LONDON: Location-based ads have boosted footfall at two UK retailers by more than 60% according to new research.

Mobile advertising platform xAd revealed the findings of its work with supermarket chain Asda and coffee chain Starbucks, where it used a panel of 45,000 opt-in smartphone owners and ran both a control group campaign using audience targeting and an exposed group using proximity targeting.

While both Asda and Starbucks were aiming to increase brand and product awareness they also experienced what xAd described as "store visitation lift" in excess of 60% after running their campaigns, Marketing reported.

Marketing Land delved deeper into the data and found that the picture was rather more nuanced, as it said that the geofenced ads had actually performed better from a CTR standpoint while audience targeting had driven more in-store visits, the opposite of what one would have expected.

"It may turn out that proximity based targeting is a more effective brand awareness tactic than audience targeting," it concluded. "Audience targeting may turn out to be a better direct response tactic in turn."

Either way, click-throughs were clearly an inadequate metric, which needed to be supplemented or replaced by others such as engagement, calls and store visits.

Ian Cranna, Starbucks' EMEA marketing chief, admitted as much. "Historically reliant on click-through rates, the mobile industry has struggled to showcase the full impact and potential of the mobile channel," he said.

But, he added, as a mobile innovator that Starbucks "strongly believe in the use of the channel to engage potential and existing customers".

For Asda, Chris Chalmers, head of digital marketing, said the trial had demonstrated "the true potential" for location-based campaigns. "Early results show a real lift in store visits and we can see the impact of specific promotions which is critical in the run-up to Christmas," he added.

Data sourced from Marketing, Marketing Land; additional content by Warc staff