Verve Takes Mobile Ad and Attribution Strategy Indoors

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Last month we released a white paper in tandem with Verve Mobile on the emerging art of mobile and cross platform ad attribution. It’s the holy grail of advertising in being able to track campaign effectiveness post ad engagement (cue John Wanamaker quote).

One thing I’ve been thinking of a lot is how all of the innovations in location based ad targeting and attribution will collide with the parallel advancements in indoor mapping and engagement (a la iBeacon). Getting mobile users to stores is one thing… what about after they get there.

Verve and others have already begun to answer that questions by correlating ad effectiveness to sales lifts and other metrics like location tracking and purchase data. To add another dimension, the company announced yesterday it will plug in to Apple’s iBeacon and Passbook standards.

From the press release:

Apple, Inc.’s Passbook is a pre-installed application on iPhones that allows users to save marketing messages, coupons, store cards, and other items in a “virtual wallet.” Apple’s iBeacon technology works with Bluetooth Low Energy devices (‘Beacons’) that enable iOS devices to react with a marketing message in close proximity.

For example, on behalf of a major national CPG manufacturer and in coordination with its retail partners, Verve is targeting specific users who, based on their location and context, are optimal recipients for the CPG brand message and the specific offer in a ‘drive to retail’ campaign. Consumers engaging with the ad have the option of saving the offer to Passbook. At retail, the offer is re-activated via Verve-supplied iBeacons. The solution then provides engagement, location and other analytics back to the Verve ad server.

This will clarify ad effectiveness in seeing what campaigns led to in-store sales. And the purchase data gathered can in turn plug back into the targeting engine for iterative campaign optimization. Indeed, Verve’s new integration plugs into it’s “Foot Traffic Index”.

Additionally for marketers, this solution enhances the already significant utility of Verve’s proprietary “Foot Traffic Index” a method of measuring the amount of lift in foot traffic attributable to a specific campaign. In combining Bluetooth LE beacon technology with device location observations, Verve is extending FTI’s usefulness to scenarios where location data are unavailable or imprecise, for example, indoor shopping malls or multi-story retail environments.

Verve’s unique combination of device location and beacon proximity intelligence makes FTI a much more effective tool for gauging a campaign’s performance in more challenging and densely populated retail locations. Marketers working with Verve on this new solution may either deploy low-cost beacons supplied by Verve specifically for the campaign or leverage existing beacon programs.

The Passbook tie in is interesting too. As we’ve written, Passbook has lots of potential in its standardization of coupon and ticketing formats. Planting it at the OS level fights the fragmentation that currently holds back user acclimation and developer adoption.

But it hasn’t taken off as fast as I expected: its value will be a function of network effect and how many developers build on it. I still believe that is coming and integrations like Verve’s will shine a light on its value and start that ball rolling.

Meanwhile iBeacon will sink or swim based on the same developer adoption (see shopkick’s play). But there’s great deal of momentum behind indoor location/engagement, and it’s the next logical step in the progression of mobile advertising.

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