Knowing where to place your marketing message used to be a simple matter of media selection. But "where" increasingly means literally anywhere: wherever your consumers happen to be. Advances in technology-driven location data are now unlocking information on where consumers are and what they are doing. And that means better targeting.
No surprise, then, that marketers are taking action. According to a Posterscope survey of 100 marketers, most believe location data could improve ROI by 60% and plan to boost investment in this area. They also believe location data will be "fully embraced" in campaigns by 2019.
But the UK is playing catch-up – US marketers are ahead of the curve. "In America, location is understood as a separate channel, particularly because location businesses like Uber and Airbnb started there," Postercope UK managing director Glen Wilson says. "On our side of the pond, building the tools that can ingest data and make sense of it has taken time."
There are other barriers to adoption in the UK, such as the fact that mobile operators have been slow to monetise the highly granular data they hold on customers.
EE set up mData in 2012 to sell anonymised, aggregated customer data to partners such as Posterscope and, Wilson notes, was the first carrier to offer the service. O2 parent Telefónica set up an analytics division later that year, with Vodafone following suit in 2013.
Marketers are also trying to make sense of multiple sources of data. Beyond mobile operators, there are tools such as xAd that plug into millions of apps to gather users’ location information. Meanwhile, businesses unrelated to advertising, such as satnav companies, are "becoming more awake" to the value of their location data, Wilson adds. Another example is Transport for London, whose live Tube data is available through an open application programming interface.