The powerful duo: marrying accurate and precise location data

Location-based advertising is most effective when the data used is both accurate and precise. But important differences lie between the two and using one without the other can mean the difference between talking to the masses rather than the individual. In the second of a five-part series from The Drum and Verve on everything you need to know about location-based advertising, we explore how to merge them together.

Location data offers infinite creative possibilities to target specific consumers across different moments during the day. And now with the emergence of the mobile consumer, the opportunities are endless in using their real-time location to deliver relevant and personalised messaging. EMarketer estimates US adults will spend 3 hours, 17 minutes a day using a mobile device this year, while the average Brit checks their mobile device 85 times per day.

But using data sets with limited precision or inaccurate information can not only mislead marketers, but also create terrible advertising experiences. In fact, it’s a big concern for marketers. A recent Forrester study revealed that one-third of digital marketers in North America cited inaccurate location data as the leading challenge their organisation faced.

According to ExchangeWire, inaccurate data is causing average revenue losses of 12% at over 88% of companies. But bad data can also prove detrimental for a brand’s reputation too. Research by Digital Connections revealed that 49% consumers will abandon a brand if it bombards them with too many ads or ads that are irrelevant to their tastes.

But even if marketers get hold of accurate data through traditional means, it may lack precision. As marketers make real assumptions about consumers based on this data, it needs to be accurate and precise. It lies at the heart of all audience-building and segmentation.

Ian James, general manager international at Verve, explains the difference: “Compare the statement ‘I am in London’ with ‘I am on Great Chapel Street in London at 9am with a one meter confidence that I am in the Verve London office’. The first statement may be accurate, but it is very broad. The latter is both accurate and precise. It’s this precision that provides the granular intelligence that enriches that accuracy measurement.”

Adding granularity to the data leads to more detailed customer segments and audiences, so marketers know they are talking directly to a mother and not a city worker, James advises. For instance, it can be assumed that she is a mother based on the fact that she was seen at Tesco three times this week and relaxing at home with the kids before going to bed.

Using a combination of historical, online and offline data points, marketers can capture a deeper understanding of a customers’ behaviour – as well as their interests and lifestyle.

Scott Curtis, director of business transformation at Publicis Media adds: “If the device is in one location between the hours of 10pm and 7am every day, we can assume this is their home. On top of this, we may frequently see the mobile device in pubs and bars, as well as a gym on the weekends, helping us to understand that the owner enjoys socialising but has an active lifestyle too.”

But with so many ways to derive location data from mobile devices, technology has its strengths and limitations. For Curtis, one of these challenges is achieving accuracy while maintaining scale. The more accurate a data source – the less scalable it becomes.

“A beacon can provide accurate location data down to centimetres, but it only provides a small sample size. Cell Tower Triangulation on the other hand can span areas the size of towns to reach a mobile device, but it cannot pinpoint a device’s exact location.

“Therefore, it is important to choose the location method dependent on the specific campaign strategy, and to use a blend of the different data gathering methods,” he advises.

In short, the clearer the marketers are on their objectives – the better advertising results they can expect to see. As James notes, precise and accurate data enables marketers to reach a mum or a city worker in more meaningful ways – resulting in better outcomes for the advertiser.

And what about those that are struggling to find high quality location data? Ed Keohane, director, audio at Bauer Media recommends marketers to work with experts who know what they are talking about. “This will help them to understand and trust the data that they’re collecting,” he says.

While location data may have its issues, the opportunities are boundless if marketers can find a way to get the best of both worlds; by marrying accurate with precise data to provide optimum audience-enriched experiences.

Everything You Need to Know About Location-Based Advertising is the fourth EYNTK series from The Drum, designed to help viewers get up to speed with some of the most important issues in today’s marketing industry in one short film – something they can watch in the back of a taxi on the way to their next crucial meeting on the subject.