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Measuring the Offline World for Marketing

This post was first published by Meredith L. Eaton on March Communications’ blog M+PR Nonsense.

Photo Credit: Amanda Fountain

“Devices turn the offline world into the online world.”

Chris Penn said that at a recent PRSA Boston event I attended and it stuck with me. It happened after a conversation around measurement and website analytics, and how that may translate to foot traffic for brick and mortar stores.

Is that measurable, too?

Yes. Because our smartphones, tablets and other devices make it so. With GPS tracking and location-based services, our devices can be a stalker’s… err, I mean, marketer’s dream!

Chris gave a good example to illustrate this:

Let’s say you’re walking around the mall. Your phone would be constantly trying to find a WiFi signal to connect to. Even if it doesn’t connect, each time it pings out a WiFi request, it’s revealing your location. And, by tracking that, it’s possible to monitor your movements as you walk around the first floor of the mall, and then the second floor, and then past the food court, and then into an athletic goods store, and so on and so forth.

This is what marketers can use to trigger specific ads – for that delicious food-court pizza perhaps, or what could be your next great pair of running shoes. And, with all that trackable data (generated by the WiFi ping attempts), the offline world can be measured just like the online world. Now, foot traffic to physical stores can finally be measurable in much the same way as website visits – and, more importantly, as they relate to marketing ads triggered by such geolocation data.

This can help marketers demonstrate ROI or find ways to adjust campaigns to make them more effective.

Of course, there are other forms of traffic counters in physical stores, but this example really highlighted the ability to merge the offline world with the online world with usable, measurable data for effective marketing measurement.

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