Aby Sam Thomas

When I asked Jim Parkinson his thoughts on what would be the most important marketing trend to follow in 2013, the executive vice president and chief digital and technology officer at Valassis didn’t hesitate even for a moment before chanting: “Location, location, location!”

And Parkinson could very well be right. More and more companies are beginning to realize that in this age of smartphones and social media, location-based targeted advertising is an excellent way to reel in potential customers.

“I think shoppers want stuff that is relevant, and they get so much stuff that is not relevant,” said Parkinson. Location-based targeting therefore allows advertisers to make sure the messages they send out are relevant to the shopper, with respect to where they are at that moment.

Mobile marketing is one medium where location-based targeting can be easily put to good use. Be it on Facebook or Foursquare, people nowadays seem increasingly eager to broadcast their location online using their smartphones. This information can then be used by marketers in a variety of ways.

For example: a consumer checking into a store at a mall can be shown deals and discounts in the competitor’s store next to them. Or, based on their shopping list, a shopper could be shown the best possible way to navigate their way around the store they are in, alongside good deals and discounts.

The applications are plenty, and companies will need to strive harder to target locally and be immediately actionable at a local level—like, say, a message on your mobile phone that says you’d get a discount if you walk into the store located a block away from you! And this doesn’t necessarily have to be an all digital operation—print-based advertising even has a play here.

Parkinson used the example of Valassis’ Purchase Precision Technology to explain this point—the technology uses insights from both online and offline data to identify and locate customers and then uses a variety of media to reach out to them; be it through an ad in the newspaper, a coupon in the mailbox, or even a Facebook app.

“We definitely strongly believe that being able to integrate lots of media types allows us to accelerate action by the consumer,” said Parkinson. “We believe that by integrating all those pieces together, we go to an advertiser with a very differentiated opportunity.”

And that, according to Parkinson, is what’s going to define the success of a marketing agency in this day and age.

“Companies that are able to present to a client the breadth of distribution, through digital, through print, and hook that messaging together—they are the ones that are going to be most successful,” he predicted.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest, longest-running digital marketing and technology event. Check out allvoices.com/adtech for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.