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Bank of America Paves ‘Pathways To Purchase’ with Location-Targeting

A banking exec affirms that geo-marketing is powerful. If only there were more mobile ad creativity available to match that technological prowess.

Lou Paskalis, VP, Enterprise Marketing & Media, BofA
Lou Paskalis, VP, Enterprise Marketing & Media, BofA

For all the talk of marketers and agencies needing to follow consumers more closely with a “mobile-first” mindset, most media strategies continue to relegate smartphones and tablets to supporting roles at best.

In a presentation at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Mobile Marketplace conference in April, Lou Paskalis, SVP, Enterprise Marketing and Media at Bank of America, offered his own company’s approach to location-targeting as a demonstration that smartphones aren’t another media channel adjunct; they’re uniquely different from other ad sales options and must be handled that way.

Paskalis, roaming the IAB stage at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in New York, offered the mobile-friendly attendees a glimpse at the way his thinking and that of BoA’s (“we’re a conservative company in a conservative business…”) has evolved on the matter of cross-screen marketing.

Making the Case for Mobile

“The challenge for us is that aspiration is real and pervasive, but the lead times [to realize those aspirations] don’t always match,” he said. “We need to figure out how to pre-solve that mobile experience.”

Paskalis has witnessed some cross-pollination in the ways the media and creative agencies interact. For example, sometimes the creative idea comes from the media agency, while the media shop’s analytics might influence the look and message of an ad, in addition to the placement.

Throughout his presentation, Paskalis hammered home the notion that brands must view mobile as more than just another media channel competing and/or complementing vehicles like TV and the PC-based web. Instead, mobile is the door to opening the “human operating system” since people have such a constant, intimate relationship with their portable connected devices.

“You can’t get to that consumer – and increasingly, that consumer can’t get to you [as a brand] – unless you go through their mobile device,” Paskalis said. “There’s a lot of talk about who the ‘mobile marketing muse’ is for the consumer and how he or she really is experiencing mobile.”

His point is that people are always using their mobile device, even when there’s other media present, like a TV. That other media may be bigger and louder, but when it comes to activities like social, experiences yielded through one’s mobile device will always be more pervasive.

Emphasis on Value

Ultimately, for mobile to “work” for brands and consumers, marketers need to offer something of value in a way that is transparent and allows for clear consumer control over the messages they receive. It all comes down to “adding value.”

Location-based advertising and targeting represent obvious ways of providing the basis for more mutually beneficial relationships between advertisers and consumers when it comes to mobile, Paskalis said.

“On the pathway to purchase, certainly there are opportunities where you see a mobile device and the user is searching for ‘televisions,’ suggesting that they’re about to buy something,” he said. “You have an offer opportunity there, where you can remind people, or you can divert people from another store to yours. The retail space is full of those stories.”

Teaming Up With A Location Expert

Paskalis singled out location-advertising data company PlaceIQ as Bank of America’s guide when it comes to providing a clear line to connecting with smartphone users in a way that doesn’t feel one-sided, forced, or irrelevant.

“Some of the things PlaceIQ is able to do with third-party data, as well as with their own observations of the marketplace, allow a brand to create better ad choices, and that’s huge,” Paskalis said. “Just having better ad choices alone, even with the more traditional banner ads that I was maligning earlier, will give you a much better response rate.”

Still, despite the foresight that can be derived from tools like geo-targeting, these techniques can’t address all the challenges in crafting a genuine bond between brands and the people they want to reach via smartphones and tablets. As Paskalis  explained it, there needs to be more organic connections between brands and their customers — and creative, relevant messages are at the heart of it.

“Geo-targeting is one of the best lead-state signals that marketers have ever had to work with,” Paskalis said. “I think we are somewhat limited by the creative available, and the ability to connect the dots to say, ‘If this is happening, then that is the best way to message someone,’ but I think those things are going to solve themselves. The potential is so tantalizing and it can’t be ignored. It’s just a matter of time until the industry collectively decides, ‘We have to build out this pathway.'”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.