iOS 14, fragmenting digital identity, and the future of high-impact targeting.

How geo-contextual targeting helps marketers prepare for an pluralistic identity future

Wynand Van Poortvliet

The ad tech ecosystem is in the throes of an identity crisis – due, in large part, to Apple’s iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency changes, which have helped to prompt a shift toward an pluralistic identity future.

Digital identities, including Mobile Advertising IDs (MAIDs) and cookies, are often utilized by advertisers to reach consumers who are highly likely to be interested in their products and/or services. Many marketers are therefore concerned about what a pluralistic identity future could mean for the efficacy of their campaigns and ability to target with precision.

In the midst of a shifting identity landscape, brands and marketers still require the high-quality data they need to reach consumers at scale and amplify their message more than ever before. As a result, the ad tech ecosystem is seeing a resurgence in contextual advertising as digital identity shifts. Marketers are balancing risk by turning towards different strategies, such as contextual targeting.

For this reason (and many others), advertisers should consider investing in alternative strategies independent of persistent identifiers, including geo-contextual targeting.

What is geo-contextual targeting?
First, let’s talk about contextual targeting. Contextual targeting utilizes information about the environment an ad is going to appear in to evaluate whether to serve an ad for a campaign. This contrasts with audience targeting since no user data is involved, only data about the surrounding context of the ad (like the contents of the webpage).

But the current contextual targeting landscape is limiting, because its offerings are primarily online-based: content category, viewability, brand safety, etc. Targeting based on the context of a page can indeed help your ad appear in the right type of environment for your brand and increase its relevance, but this strategy misses out on the rich opportunity to understand the consumer’s environment as they engage with your content while moving throughout the real, mobile-first world.

This is why geo-contextual targeting is so critical: it provides a way to apply contextual strategies to the physical world.

How does geo-contextual targeting work?
Geo-contextual targeting uses a set of specific geofences in the form of location coordinates representing places where consumers are engaging in activities meaningful to marketers. For example, a common contextual category today might be “over 21 – alcohol websites”. With geo-contextual targeting tools, buyers can use their consumers’ location as a real-world signal for a similar context: “at a bar”. As the pandemic lifts and people are out and about more, these types of signals will become even more useful to marketers.

Once those coordinates are delivered and activated within an ad-buying platform (a DSP), the ad buying platform can determine whether the consumer is in a relevant location, even without a persistent identifier.

What specific problems does geo-contextual targeting solve?
Reaching consumers at the right moment is the marketing holy grail. Geo-contextual targeting reduces ad waste by eliminating misplaced dollars on consumers who are not in the mindset for your message. Serve highly-targeted messaging or promotions while consumers are in the midst of a grocery shopping trip to influence shopping lists and impromptu purchases. Automotive advertisers can reach consumers in the moment while at the auto dealership to influence a buying decision and stay top-of-mind throughout the buyer journey.

About Foursquare Proximity Real Time Moments:
To assist our clients in utilizing Proximity in this new geo-contextual mindset, Foursquare just released a selection of predefined custom Proximity designs in the form of what we call “Real Time Moments,” which help marketers across numerous verticals maximize ad effectiveness by engaging and influencing at the point of consumption and/or transaction during activities like dining, leisure, shopping, and much more.

What about privacy?
Foursquare Proximity is a real-time, geo-contextual solution primed to help marketers reach consumers in the most impactful moments using only a device’s location (precise lat/long coordinates) and no persistent identifier. Proximity does not track an individual’s device history or utilize any other user data. In short, this means that Proximity is not directly impacted by Apple’s iOS14 App Tracking Transparency changes.

Geo-contextual targeting: The key takeaways

  1. The ad tech ecosystem is shifting toward a pluralistic identity future – and Foursquare is prepared to help you navigate the new landscape.
  2. Geo-contextual targeting provides a way to apply contextual strategies to the physical world.
  3. Geo-contextual targeting can help reach highly-relevant consumers, reducing misplaced ad-spend.
  4. Foursquare Proximity offers a real-time geocontextual solution that is privacy-first.

To learn more about geo-contextual targeting and Foursquare Proximity, contact our team of location experts using the form below.