Digital Transformation

Using Contextual Signals With Mobile Users




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Mobile is an interesting beast. Users have a different experience for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that you interact with mobile almost anywhere and definitely outside your home or work. Obviously that sets up a lot of opportunity if you can just figure out the signals and then figure out what you want to say.  Think with Google has an interesting article by Arjan Dijk and Tommy Wiles about, “How we use contextual signals to break through with mobile users”  It’s interesting because these are people who do marketing inside Google and have real world experience to call upon. They also have some interesting results from that experience.  I suggest you read the whole article but let me give you a great example from the article.  Personalizing the experience based on location for example can yield results.


In our case, we experimented with a campaign for the Google app. We thought carefully about users’ context and what might be most useful to them in that moment. If someone is in an airport, for example, chances are they’re traveling. And if someone is traveling, they’re likely to be curious about their destination. With that in mind, we created a series of programmatic ads that focused on travel tips, landmarks, and points of interest.

If someone was in San Francisco, they were served an ad that featured the Golden Gate Bridge and relevant questions, like “How long is the Golden Gate Bridge?” This locally-relevant approach worked, and the campaign increased daily active users by 85% when compared to our control group.

Obviously this is just an example but take a step back and think through how this might work for a variety of industries:

  1. You’re know someone is in construction based on an app they are using and when they are close to an empty field (according to Google Maps), show tool related add from a variety of vendors in that area.
  2. You want to give a better hospital experience and you see the mobile user just arrived near your hospital. That’s a great time to show them a map, invite them to use the new wayfinding functionality, or even highlight where to buy flowers for a loved one.
  3. It’s a rainy day out and they are just passing by the store…………. umbrellas are on sale right now, 15% off.


There’s too many option to mention and you are constrained only by your imagination in how you use that information.  But Google has a great point, context like time, location, apps used, etc can allow you to personalize the experience.

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