Marketers are open to spending on location data, but they lack the proof to show that their efforts are working.
“It’s a dilemma,” said Kevin McGinnis, CEO of Pinsight Media, a Sprint-owned mobile analytics company with access to anonymized first-party mobile carrier data from Sprint subscribers.
That’s why Pinsight, which helps its advertiser clients gather audience insights from mobile campaigns, recently partnered with Placecast, a data management and demand-side platform for location data. The pair has developed a tool that uses subscriber data to verify the accuracy of mobile campaigns.
The carrier info within Pinsight’s platform serves as a truth set, a core of deterministic data that allows Placecast to confirm whether a geotargeted ad landed where it was supposed to.
Every time a device does something on the Sprint network, Pinsight gets latitude and longitude coordinates and the associated location metadata. On average, it receives the information from a single mobile device 600 times a day.
All of that anonymous, aggregated information is matched to ad IDs and sent to Placecast, which deploys tags alongside campaigns. When a geotargeted ad is served, Placecast checks the cell tower against the time stamp of the ad exposure and calculates the percentage of impressions delivered within a set geofence.
“That allows us to verify particular impressions and location fixes accurately at a large scale,” said Placecast CEO Alistair Goodman.
For the moment, the product is “just a query,” Goodman said, meaning that the location data can only be verified on a post-bid basis. But the plan is to create a tool to verify the quality of location data before it’s used rather than just for reporting purposes.
A pre-bid solution would cut down on wasted ad spend. Location data doesn’t have the best track record in the accuracy department.
Quality varies widely by source. IP address, for example, is far less useful than GPS, although that also depends on how specific the targeting must be for a particular campaign. And everything from a misplaced decimal point to bad cell signals can diminish accuracy, and therefore the value of location data.
But even retroactive verification is a step toward gaining the buy side’s trust and unlocking more budget. Marketers are getting smarter about location data, McGinnis said. They’re starting to ask the right questions, and it’s all to the good.
“Marketers are doing more due diligence about what data they’re using rather than assuming all data is equal and that every data set they have access to will yield positive results or the results they’re expecting,” McGinnis said.
But it’s only possible for marketers to improve the performance and efficiency of their campaigns if they’re armed with insights about how those campaigns are performing, Goodman said.
“Once the advertiser knows what the issue is, they can drill in and improve,” he said.
Working with a truth set can ensure that the insights flowing in are rooted in reality.
“In location’s past, there were problems with inaccuracies,” Goodman said. “But now we’re also seeing huge demand from advertisers and brands. The opportunity there is clear, and that’s to give advertisers the extra confidence they need in the quality of location data.”