Where is my money going? Marketers finally have an answer for bad location data.

When proximity advertising first arrived on the scene almost fifteen years ago, the ability to serve up deals or ads to consumers based on their location was considered groundbreaking. Today, location data is used for much more. Embraced by marketers as a way to understand real-world behavior both historically and in real-time, its use cases span from planning out-of-home advertisements to building audience segments for targeting, and ad measurement and attribution.

Location data presents enormous potential for marketers to deliver personalized, and ideally relevant and timely, messaging to consumers and to do so cost-effectively–so why was $4 billion of the $16 billion spent1 on targeted mobile ads this year wasted?

Turns out, according to a Forrester study, 94 percent of mobile marketers have difficulty working with location data, with the biggest challenge being the inaccuracy of the data. Research shows that 59 percent of location data is inaccurate — this is a huge problem for marketers who have custom-created ads based on that inaccurate data. The results are ineffective advertising and billions of wasted ad dollars.

Unfavorable trade-offs

Until recently, there was no real solution to this problem. When the three most common sources of location data are GPS, Wi-Fi access points, and tower cell triangulation, marketers are sometimes forced to choose between accuracy, precision, and scale. Ultimately, these trade-offs risk running ‘targeted’ location-based campaigns that completely miss their mark.

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According to Foursquare, nearly 80 percent of location data in its bid stream is inaccurate, and Thinknear reports that 54 percent of all location-targeted mobile ads are off by more than half a mile. Even so, the real challenge isn’t precisely locating a percentage of consumers some of the time — it’s being able to get consistently accurate data across large-scale audiences. Location vendors often rely on pattern recognition to verify location data. However, in a recent study where we compared bidstream traffic from three major ad exchanges that rely on pattern recognition, we found that this method of filtering out bad data may only uncover half as much inaccuracy as is present.

Thankfully, marketers now have a new option to verify location data accuracy, so ad dollars aren’t squandered. We just launched Location Verification, a product that uses carrier data as the truth set of location data. Carrier data is persistent, uncorrupted, and reliable and offers tremendous scale, making it a highly valuable and useful source of data. Using this carrier-verified data, our Location Verification product seeks to solve the problem of bad location data and eliminate wasted ad spend.

The ins and outs of carrier-verified data

So — how does it all work?

When advertisers run geotargeted mobile campaigns, we can measure how accurate the location targeted ads are. Advertisers apply a standard campaign tag and share their location-based mobile campaign goals. Since we receive anonymized, aggregated device activity and movement from our carrier partners, we can establish a mobile user’s location at the time he received a geotargeted ad. This helps us to verify whether or not an ad is delivered within the defined campaign geofence and check “yes” or “no.”

We then share the percentages of daily impressions that met or did not meet the advertiser’s geo-targeting parameters as well as a map that shows the locations of those devices that received ads, relative to the intended geofence(s). Advertisers can use this data to work with their location vendors to optimize their advertising spend, increase ROI, and verify that they’re getting what they paid for.

Location data has disrupted the mobile advertising space. Marketers need to be smart about where–yes, where–their ad spend is going in order to fully capitalize on the amazing advances in modern advertising technology. Today, our Emodo Verification lets you do just that.

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