xAd Location Ads Produces 34 Percent Rise In Denny’s In-Store Visits

Proximity marketing isn’t just a matter of “where,” says the fast-casual chain’s John Dillon.

Following a sales dip in the early aughts, fast casual chain Denny’s needed to find a way to deliver its diner fare to the modern connected consumer.

John Dillon
Denny’s SVP & CMO John Dillon

First, the casual dining chain increased the amount of TV spots it ran throughout 2010 and 2011. But the big breakthrough came in the form of mobile marketing. With consumers spending an average of 147 daily minutes on a smartphone, Denny’s partnered with location ad platform xAd to serve up a targeted mobile campaign.

This partnership was the subject of a morning session on the second day of the Mobile Marketing Association’s New York Forum, spotlighting how Denny’s used location-based advertising to boost sales.

First Steps

An early Denny’s/xAd ad effort used proximity targeting to remind customers near a Denny’s location of an ongoing “unlimited pancakes” promotion. But while the campaign delivered a 30 percent lift over the industry average clickthrough rate, both xAd and Denny’s wanted to go further. The new goal would be to refine audience-targeting practices while also connecting the campaign’s success to the physical world by measuring in-store visits.

“Frankly, it’s all about driving butts to seats,” said John Dillon, Denny’s SVP & CMO. “That’s what we care about.”

Monica Ho
xAd’s Head of Marketing Monica Ho

xAd’s first step was to expand its use of location data. “We wanted to move beyond the where, and use location data to define the who and the what of audience targeting,” said Monica Ho, xAd’s head of marketing. After all, while a consumer’s proximity to a Denny’s can be significant, targeting someone who has been to and enjoys Denny’s will often prove more successful — whether or not they happen to be near the restaurant at the time they see the ad.

The tactic seems to have paid dividends for Denny’s. A targeted “Build Your Own Skillet” mobile ad campaign produced an 11.6 percent lift in in-store visits; a recent reprisal of the effort for “Build Your Own French Toast” delivered a 34 percent increase.

Metrics Breakdown

After breaking down their campaign metrics, Dillon and Ho dedicated the remainder of their MMA session to three points they believe are crucial for marketers attempting to drive in-store visits through mobile:

  • Build audiences: As xAd learned through working with Denny’s, it’s beneficial to use location data to segment very specific mobile audiences. Location data can be leveraged not only to find out who has visited a retail location, but also to discover what else they like. For example, a certain Denny’s customer might only think of visiting the chain late at night. But if you can determine that that customer also always goes to a specific store during the day, an ad could be served at that location to bring Denny’s to their mind during the day.
  • Location, location, location: Ho’s first point isn’t to say that proximity doesn’t matter — just that it is one of many factors. A location-relevant overlay produced a 43 percent increase in in-store visits over standard creative in one Denny’s campaign example. Integrating location into lower-funnel mobile messaging can do a lot to drive foot traffic, Ho said.
  • Offline matters: After all, over 90 percent of transactions still happen offline. In-store is a crucial moment, and the more that brands can do to connect the online and the offline experience, the better.
About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.