Marketers and publishers are just starting to understand that as the cookie was to desktop advertising, location data is to mobile. Location history is evolving into a kind of cookie substitute for mobile advertising, but one that is more accurate and powerful than cookies.
This goes way beyond the archetypal mobile-location use case (“You’re walking by a Starbucks…”). However, most brands and marketers still think more conventionally about location in terms of real-time geofencing or proximity targeting.
“When it comes to mobile, location is the critical piece of data that’s underutilized,” explains Factual CEO Gil Elbaz. Factual, which now refers to itself as a “location platform,” just announced expanded location-data deals with Facebook and Apple:
Our data stack is designed to distill down billions of pieces of information from millions of different sources into a clean, comprehensive, up to date database of places in 50 countries. It incorporates new inputs in real-time and can quickly rebuild the entire data set as we improve the data stack itself, giving us an incredible amount of flexibility and agility in building data. The sophistication of our data stack and resulting flexibility and agility improves our ability to provide better and more timely data to Apple Maps.
Better places data is a small but critical part of the story. More interesting is how location can unlock specific audiences, even hyper-targeted audiences. Factual has built a large number of “off the shelf” audience segments that it makes available to partners, such as in-market auto buyers, heavy QSR patrons and business travelers, among many others.
Other examples of targeting very specific audiences include people who’ve visited a dentist in the past month or female yoga enthusiasts. Such specialized audience categories would be difficult if not impossible to reliably target on the desktop.
There are a number of platforms and providers that share this vision of location as a doorway into audience segmentation and targeting (among other use cases). Beyond Factual, a non-exhaustive list includes Moasis, NinthDecimal, Placed, PlaceIQ, Skyhook, ThinkNear, Verve, xAd and YP.
Buyers and agencies are gradually becoming more educated about the possibilities. They’re starting to use location as a way to gain insights about customer behavior, as an analytics tool to determine the effectiveness of other media channels (e.g., TV and outdoor), and a way to reach prospects any time and place — not just when they’re within a mile of a Best Buy or a Starbucks.