Are Advertisers Getting Smart About Location Intelligence?

locationinsightsThere’s an opportunity around location that extends beyond targeting consumers with ads for mayonnaise or corn flakes when they’re walking down an aisle in a grocery store.

“The location data opportunity is still unfolding,” said Tracey Scheppach, EVP of precision video at Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest. “As agencies start to get smart about things like that, the data will be used for more than just placing ads; it’ll be used to inform business decisions. The role of the advertising agency is starting to change as awareness goes up around using data to drive more than just media decisions.”

Some of the most significant inroads in this area have been around attribution.

Companies like Placed, PlaceIQ, Foursquare, Nielsen, NinthDecimal and others are all vying for dominance.

In late 2014, SMG, in partnership with PlaceIQ and Acxiom, launched a product called Maps TV that connects addressable television spots to store visits.

Maps tracks what is being watched on a particular set-top box in a particular household and makes note of the individual devices in the home. From there, it determines which person in the household ultimately made his or her way to a store location.

In tests conducted last summer with clients across three different verticals, SMG noted a lift in consumer visitation ranging from 20% to 70%.

In one example, SMG worked with a travel advertiser to target TV spots to households with a seeming affinity for visiting a certain city and later tracked whether people exposed to the ads showed up in that city within a set time period. The same philosophy was applied to a retailer and an auto dealership.

Where Did You Come From, Where Did You Go?

Another application of location data is to examine patterns around where consumers have been before a store visit and where they’re going next, both of which are strong indicators of habits and intent. Drawing these conclusions, however, requires far more than knowing whether a consumer spends time in a single location.

“People are starting to ask questions and show interest in day-in-the-life analysis – in other words, yes, people come to my store, but where did they go before and where are they going after they leave my store?” said Factual CMO Vikas Gupta. “Brands and retailers are trying to get a sense of where they fit into the daily behavior of their consumers and using that as a way to influence positioning, messaging or advertising tactics.”

GroupM agency MEC is starting to roll up its sleeves in that regard.

“Latitude and longitude plus historical location is a powerful formula for reaching the right person at the right time, but it gets really interesting when you apply location and proximity to the creative, and we’re doing quite a lot of that now,” said Rachel Pasqua, mobile and emerging technologies lead at MEC Global, North America. “At present, it’s doing things like showing different products based on the local weather, events, real-time offers, store inventory, etc., but we’re continually seeking out ways to make this kind of dynamic creative more interesting and bespoke based on where someone is.”

Tapping location data for market research can also give brands a sense of how their customer base differs based on region, state or city or whether a store located in an urban environment performs better than one in the suburbs.

From there, it’s a short leap to competitive analysis: How are my customers different from my competitor’s customers? How are they similar? What’s the overlap? How many of my customers also shop at the competition? When do they go there? What are their demographics? What are their affinities overall?

Happening or Not?

But how a vendor might actually make these connections is aspirational at the moment. One way would be to pair historical location data with demographics and behavior patterns based on place.

Take hotels. Their bread and butter is business travelers, but business travelers don’t only spend time in airports. They have other aspects to their lives. The airport is a signal, but it doesn’t do much to block out the noise.

But if a particular group demonstrates a preference for dining at a certain type of restaurant or shopping at a certain type of retailer, clocking their movements as a group could help generate predictive insights around preferences using geofences or through partnerships with location-aware apps.

Although most CPG companies are laser-focused on foot traffic and attribution, “some are thinking about how to apply location data to understanding who people are based on where they are,” Pasqua said. “We’ve worked with companies, for example, that want to see if someone is a mom or not by looking at daily patterns. Have we seen them at school and parks regularly?”

Of course, progress is sometimes held in check by how sophisticated a client wants to get. The use case is compelling on paper, but feels too experimental to get an advertiser’s attention.

“With most clients, it’s us pushing and saying, ‘But there’s so much more we can try to do with the data we have access to,’” Pasqua said.

Another creative application of location data – courtesy of companies like Intalytics, Cuebiq and PlaceIQ – is to analyze foot traffic to determine the best place to build a store. Yet even this use case is too ambitious for many brands.

“We’ve got some clients that are far more excited about insights and learnings like that,” said Duncan McCall, CEO and co-founder of PlaceIQ. “But the truth is, targeting is where most people start. It’s hard to prove the ROI of insights.”

1 Comment

  1. Great piece. Location data is beginning to unlock all sorts of potential. Relevance raises results, and creative that reflects the moment (time and place) produces better engagement, period.

    Reply

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