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Is The Real Money In Mobile OFF The Goatpath?


Is The Real Money In Mobile OFF The Goatpath?

Tom Cunniff May 10, 2013

Mobile’s promise is that if we know precisely where someone is standing, we can shift their behavior. Are we there yet? If you’ll excuse a location joke: we’re not even close.

Today, just 5 to 10 percent of mobile ad impressions are based on latitude/longitude data. Mostly, it’s generic IP data — so inaccurate that our consumer could easily be several towns away from where the data says they are.

But humans are creatures of habit. We take the same road to work, the same road to grab lunch, the same road home. In that sense we’re not that much different from goats: we get on a path and we don’t vary much.

I predict the real value won’t lie in knowing precisely where somebody is at a given moment, but in knowing where they habitually go. The real value will be in coaxing people off their goatpath, where they are will be open to trying something new.

Auto-Mode Vs. Explorer-Mode.

Trying to exert “control” when people are doing what they habitually do is actually a surprisingly tall order. People are in Auto-Mode. It’s all sense memory: pick up lunch, grab the dry cleaning, stop for gas, head back to the office.

But if we can influence people to get off their goat path and take an alternate route, they shift into Explorer-Mode. “Gee, I didn’t realize there was a McDonald’s (or Olive Garden, or Staples, or Mobil station, etc etc) over here. I wonder what’s down that next street?”

Great mobile advertising should get people out of their ruts, and into trying brands and experiences they haven’t tried before. We don’t have to move people far, just a few streets to the left or right. We need to move people far enough off their goat path to re-awaken their senses.

Changing Paths Helps To Change Views.

It’s probably easier to get someone to try a different quick-serve restaurant one town away than it is to try one that’s just one driveway away. Novelty trumps geography.

I think over time we’ll learn that the magic of location-based marketing isn’t so much about knowing where people’s feet are, but where their heads and hearts are.

If you’ve been thinking about precise location data as the holy grail of mobile, maybe it’s time to step off your goat path.

You might see a lot of new opportunities.




Tom Cunniff

Tom Cunniff
East Coast Correspondent
Follow me on twitter @tomcunniff

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