NEW YORK: Mobile marketers are turning away from geo-targeting of consumers, based on broad geographical areas such as zip codes, in favour of increasingly precise methods that narrow a consumer's position to a much smaller zone, according to new research.

A report from xAd, a mobile ad network, entitled Mobile-Location Insights Q1 2013, was based on its own network and campaign data spanning 200 brand campaigns from January through March. This found that the proportion of campaigns that used geo-targeting had fallen to 40% in the first quarter of 2013, compared to 64% a year earlier.

Conversely, the share of national brand campaigns using "geo-precise" techniques, such as geo-fencing or targeting based on location-specific consumer behaviours, had increased to 58% in the first quarter, up from 27% in the year-earlier period.

"The rapid adoption of geo-precise targeting techniques, which enable brands to target users based on their exact location, comes as no surprise," said Dipanshu Sharma, xAd's chief executive.

"National advertisers are becoming better acquainted with the power of precise mobile location and its ability to not only reach specific audiences based on their current or past location behaviours, but its unique ability to reach users at the specific moment they are most likely to view and engage with an ad message," she added.

The report cited the example of Pinkberry, a frozen yogurt chain, which successfully used geo-precise mobile targeting to serve relevant ads to mobile users within a one-mile radius of its stores and so generate awareness of promotional offers and drive traffic in-store to try a new Greek yogurt.

Within the first two weeks, the yogurt chain said the effort had doubled the benchmarks it set for the campaign.

The sectors that most utilised mobile-location based advertising were financial services, telecoms and restaurants, while Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles were the most targeted cities

Data sourced from MarketWatch; additional content by Warc staff