PayPal’s Geo-Fenced Where Ads Go Political

New product accepts donations in mobile ad unit

Just in time for Super Tuesday, location-based discovery and advertising service Where is rolling out a new product for political donations.

Where was founded in 2004 and acquired by eBay in 2011. It reports to the company's PayPal unit and works with brands and marketers to deliver ads triggered by a user's location.

To coincide with Super Tuesday, the company on Monday launched its first political product called Donate Now, which lets people make donations to political campaigns from a mobile ad unit.

"Where's whole value proposition is its ability to geo-fence and serve mobile ads based on a user's location," a Where rep said of ads that are delivered when a mobile phone user enters a predetermined geographic area. "The technology is something political campaigns could use as well."

Donate Now could be used to deliver locally relevant messaging to people when they enter a given location. (Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., used such geo-targeted mobile ads to reach prospective voters while they were at the Minnesota state fair in 2010.)

Citing S&P Capital IQ analysts, Where said that political ad spending across all media could reach more than $4 billion in 2012, exceeding the prior record of $2.8 billion spent in the 2007-2008 elections.

Where said it works with more than 100 top publishers such as Pandora and The Weather Channel and that it can reach more than 70 million mobile users with its hyper-local messaging. Where isn't running any political campaigns yet, although it only made the service available on Monday.

Looking beyond politics, Where also sees a humanitarian application for Donate Now. In partnership with MissionFish, eBay's exclusive charity partner, the product will be available at a reduced rate to charity organizations and free to disaster relief programs (but only within the Where and PayPal mobile app). A disaster relief organization could use it to reach people in a region affected by a tornado or earthquake, for example.