Happy New Year to all! As we move into a new year, what can we learn from 2013? Well, it became clear last year that 2014 will be the year mobile and location-based advertising finally takes off.

Now that most publishers have a mobile offering for driving new revenues, the question is “What’s next?”

Location is part of that future jigsaw.

Digital advertising generally has undergone a massive change in recent times. And there seems to be a general acknowledgement that the current generation of mainstream digital ads is not quite working as well as it could. This is true for consumers, advertisers, and publishers alike.

Readers can be “turned off” by some existing digital (especially mobile ads, as many are irrelevant and, therefore, intrusive banners ads). This leads to a rise of “ad blocker” services, particularly when the ads promote a product that consumers have previously viewed or have no interest in.

The advertising industry needs to change from a pure selling culture to a “helping the journey to purchase” culture.

That’s where location comes in.

Mobile campaigns that leveraged location targeting outperformed non-location-targeted campaigns by a factor of two, according to a 2013 report from Verve Mobile. The report found all location-based strategies exceeded the industry average click-through rate (CTR) of 0.4%, with geo-aware campaigns leading with a 1% click-through average.

For the report, Verve reviewed more than 2,500 mobile campaigns run across its location-based ad platform. Tom MacIsaac, CEO of Verve Mobile, said recently: “Not only is location a must-have, but it really is the key value mobile brings for marketers. Location targeting is the ability to reach consumers on their uniquely personal devices while they are out and about, on the go, and closer to the buying decision than ever before.”

Quite. As publishers, imagine the power to target relevant offers, subscriptions deals, news updates, etc., to the particular environment your customers currently occupy.

Of course, this power brings responsibility, too. You cannot abuse the relationship and trust given to you. But if your efforts are of value and relevant … bingo!

The report above also highlighted a number of successful case studies. For example, fashion retailer H&M saw a CTR of 2.3% when it used location via geo-fenced store locations in three U.S. cities, generating excitement around a new underwear line. The retailer did this via mobile ads that were dynamic, expandable, and included “tap-to-map” and social media integration.

The addition of location information in mobile advertising brings real value to users by helping them find products and services where and when they want them. We all need to realise this in new media.

Location data also can be coupled with audience segmentation data, enabling marketers to reach only the users they want to reach. And, by incorporating third-party data, location-based campaigns can reach users based on demographic or transactional histories. This location data could be as general as a town or city, or as specific as a request to capture an exact location at any given moment.

The more exact the location, the more valuable it is.

And as the industry becomes more educated on the power of location data, the expectations of advertisers and their consumers are also expanding.

Publishers are in a difficult position.

Print circulation and advertising revenues are falling and likely to fall further. The recent 2013 Internet Trends report from Kleiner Perkins shows a troubling picture on where advertising revenues are spent versus the actual eyeballs. Print achieves 6% of the media eyeballs and 23% of the advertising revenues.

Mobile, however, gets 12% of the eyeballs and only 3% of the advertising revenues.

Much to do still!

The above — combined with the growing realisation that “traditional” digital/mobile ads are just not working optimally for advertisers, consumers, or publishers — points to a huge change needed in the future advertising landscape. Location can start to offer you more creative, more powerful, more relevant, and more revenue-generating mobile ads.

The time for publishers to be gearing up to be fully on board with the mobile/location advertising is now! If nothing else, make sure you commit to investigating location as a feature for your efforts in 2014.

Please do contact me if you want any guidance or clarification. I’d love to hear from you, wherever you are in the world. Good luck and very best wishes from London, England, for 2014.