How Little Guys Can Win in Local Mobile Advertising

If you follow the mobile industry, your head may be swimming in all the recent headlines about local mobile advertising. In the last two weeks alone (take a breath here): WHERE Inc. announced the 100th partner for its seven-month-old local ad network; Google said it is moving from “local” to “hyperlocal” ads; TGI Fridays announced its first local mobile ad campaign; Verve Wireless picked up $7 million in funding in a round led by BlueRun Ventures; and Canada’s Multiplied Media launched the Poynt Offer Engine, a location-aware advertising and offer platform.

BIA/Kelsey last week predicted that local mobile advertising in the U.S. will grow from a mere $213 million in 2009 to a staggering $2.02 billion by 2014. That holds tremendous promise for behemoths like Google, Facebook and Yelp, but each of the massive players in the nascent space has its vulnerabilities. So while mobile-centric startups like Foursquare and Gowalla work to expand beyond early adopters into the mainstream, smaller guys like WHERE, Geodelic Systems, Whrrl and Verve still have a chance to compete with the big boys when it comes to local mobile advertising.

To do so, though, they must address four critical issues that I discuss in detail in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro:

  1. Protecting users’ information is paramount. The kind of information you share — and with whom you share it –matters.
  2. Pull, don’t push. Help consumers find what they’re looking for when they’re looking for it.
  3. Demonstrate positive return on investment. Mobile provides an unprecedented opportunity to give advertisers insights into how well their ads are performing.
  4. Build a better app. Smaller mobile players aren’t going to replace a Google or a Facebook, so they should focus on doing one specific thing better than their bigger counterparts.

Overcoming those four challenges alone won’t be enough for startups looking to take on their massive online counterparts, but they will be key underpinnings of those who will succeed.

Read the full post here.