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Small businesses target hyper-local mobile ads via brands? apps

Cidewalk, developed by online ad network Chitika, allows businesses to create their own mobile ad and have it appear across more than 10,000 popular mobile apps to users in a selected town. With pricing going as low as $1 for 1,000 ad views, the service opens up the world of mobile advertising to smaller businesses that may lack the resources to match strides with larger marketers. 

"I've been running five separate ad campaigns using Cidewalk for several weeks now, and I have really been amazed,? said Elie Sakhat, owner of El Basha Restaurant, a family-owned local chain of three Mediterranean restaurants, near Boston.

?For each, I picked the highest price point at 5,000 views for $5, and it was well worth it,? she said. ?I have had a bunch of customers come in during that period saying they saw my ad on their phone, which is the most you can hope for. ?Plus, I get stats showing the number of views and exactly where the ad was seen, which I really like.? 

Direct connection
Small business owners can gain a lot from local mobile advertising because everyone they reach is a potential customer, and they get a more direct connection to consumers than with a billboard or flyer. ?However, local mobile advertising has, thus far, really only been open to larger brands with big budgets,? said Chitika spokesman Andrew Waber. 

Targeting local business-customers across 10,000 apps.

?By leveraging Chitika's real time bidding (RTB) platform and its sophisticated targeting and bidding engine, Cidewalk puts these smaller business owners on the same playing field as those large brands.? 

Users can download the free Cidewalk app from the iOs or Android app stores. 

After logging in, the user picks the town where the promotion is to be shown, for example, Rye, NY. The user then inputs the ad copy. For example: Half Price Pizza in Rye! 50% off all slices at Sunrise Pizza, 12-5 p.m.

Based on promotion type, the user then picks the method of reaching customers, followed by how customers can reach the business. For example: a physical address, Web site address, phone number or email. 

Payment options include 1,000 views for $1, 3,000 views for $3 and 5,000 views for $5. The promotion goes live five minutes after payment is received. Users can choose to make the campaign recurring.

A low-cost mobile-ad option for small businesses.

The ad itself is shown to mobile users in the specified geographic area when they access more than 10,000 different mobile applications, including The Weather Channel, MLB, NFL, Fox News, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Reuters, and many others. 

Chitika's RTB platform has been heavily built out over the past several years, and is plugged into nearly every online ad exchange offering North American inventory. 

Once the promotion goes live, its progress can be tracked through the Cidewalk app. 

A stats page includes the real-time updating of views, clicks, the apps that have shown the ad, and even a map with pins identifying where the ad has been seen. 

PTA meetings
Other consumer-facing small businesses using Cidewalk have included the Worcester Public Library, and Vital Cycle, a local spin studio. PTA meetings, garage sales and even searches for lost animals also can use the app to set up a campaign in less than five minutes.

Tracking the results.

?I've advertised our daily food specials several times, and also launched one today talking about our healthy, vegan options,? El Basha?s Ms. Sakhat said.

?The funny thing is, I recently purchased some billboard space on the state highway here, and based on what I'm hearing from customers, I believe I'm getting actually more business from Cidewalk than I'm getting out of that billboard, which was much more expensive." 

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.