Location, Location, Location: Why It Finally Hits Home for Advertisers in 2017

Most people could agree that 2016 was a rough year. For digital advertising, and others, the bumps were poignant: ‘fake news’ overtook real news and distrust in agencies flared as transparency problems came to light. While some may not have been affected by the major shifts in the ad tech world, agencies and brands should take notice in 2017. The consolidation and changes happening in response to last year’s debacles will affect the tools you use to reach consumers, writes Matt Kojalo, vice president of advertising products, Skyhook. Being one of the levers advertisers have relied on in years past, disruption in the location data space is needed now more than ever. Based on Skyhook’s customer feedback, product growth, and location data challenges in the past, here’s their take on what’s in store for the advertising industry. 

Targeting the right person at the right time isn’t new to advertisers; but the depth of knowledge that can be accrued through mobile data is only just being realised. Until now, advertisers had access to audience insights based on how they used their mobile devices; but now they’re seeing the importance of gathering data based on where people take their mobile devices. To do this effectively, advertisers understand that they need contextually precise location for targeting the right user and measuring ad campaign effectiveness and ROI. When it comes to location, ‘close enough’ won’t suffice. As knowledge and understanding of location develops, ‘bad location’ can’t be substituted for real, accurate location.

Matt Kojalo, Vice President of Advertising Products, Skyhook

Why? Accuracy and context give location data its true meaning. Using ‘bad location’ can lead to inaccurate, or just plain incorrect, insights that can negatively impact campaigns. However, precision allows advertisers to target audiences based on demographic and behavioural data, deliver accurate personalisation, and engage with the right target audience at the right time. Also, accurate location can improve brand loyalty, and measure a campaign’s effectiveness at driving foot traffic and ROI. Arguably, one of the most important aspects of precise location data are the insights they provide on competitor brand intelligence. With accurate location, it is possible to measure consumer loyalty by comparing foot traffic against competitor locations and derive important user insights from that data.

Advertisers who continue to rely on inaccurate location data will pay the ultimate price: a hit to brand equity, wasted spend, annoyed consumers, and ineffective campaigns. Using flawed location data doesn’t seem like a problem when ad campaigns are viewed on a dashboard or in a spreadsheet, but the delivery of inaccurate or poorly timed personalised messages has a wider, immeasurable impact.

Picture this scenario: a gym and fast food restaurant are located next to each other. It’s easy to imagine how an advertiser using inaccurate location data could mistake a person’s location and deliver fast food messaging to someone who is really at the gym. Using ‘bad location’ for campaign targeting, not only in this case, not only leads to wasted campaign dollars, but also to frustrated potential customers. What’s more, if the same inaccurate location used in targeting is used in attribution, advertisers will never be able to measure their success in driving in-store foot traffic.

Inaccurate location can’t be that common, can it? According to Skyhook’s location filtering for DSPs, up to 80-90% of mobile ad location data is wrong. With that fact in mind, advertisers need to accept the fact that latitude/longitude points must be verified by a trusted location partner.

Accurate location data benefits all parties involved: consumers receive both personalised content and campaigns relevant to their specific location, while advertisers see more dollars and consumer trust. Soon, all advertisers in the industry will strive to implement best practices that guard against the use of faulty data. As advertisers’ value for precise location matures, consumers can expect to be on the receiving end of more innovative and personalised ad campaigns in 2017.