How one mobile adtech player wants to bring transparency to location data post-GDPR

Foursquare reports that close to 80% of location data in its bid stream is inaccurate

Where other location-based mobile platforms have bowed out of Europe, Location Sciences (formerly Proxama) has unveiled a fully GDPR-compliant tool to help marketers draw better value from their location-based buys.

Location Sciences launched the feature, Verify, earlier this week, but said the timing was purely coincidental.

However, with Verve pulling out of the market entirely, Kargo reducing its headcount and cross-device ID firm Drawbridge parting ways with its media business ahead of the regulation, the confident launch from a mobile player is certainly timely.

In a market where initiatives like the IAB Gold Standard have placed emphasis on tackling the industry’s ad fraud, viewability, measurement and brand safety issues, the concept of verification location has been somewhat overlooked by trade bodies. However, Foursquare reports that close to 80% of location data in its bid stream is inaccurate – a stat that’s likely to make marketers reluctant to funnel investment into the space.

Inaccuracies can be caused by a number of issues, including poor targeting. Ultimately, there is also some incentive for app publishers operating in the bidstream, in particular, to supply fraudulent latitude and longitude data, because they get a 10 to 20-fold multiple on their ad yield if they pass on location.

Salving the issue

Location Sciences (which is uncoupled from the media buying process) has come up with a salve it says will provide advertisers, their agencies and DSPs with independent data around the accuracy of their location-based campaigns.

A controller of first-party data, the company will let its clients leverage location signal and POI radius accuracy as well as footfall and audience profile to optimise their media buys.

Essentially, the tech will help parties ensure they’re actually getting the location services they stump up for; in the same way Double Verify and Moat check viewability, it checks the location accuracy of every impression served.

Speaking to The Drum, Mark Slade chief executive of Location Sciences, said it is already trading it with several “big agencies and suppliers” but couldn’t go into details.

Consent is obtained by publishers themselves, which Slade says falls in line with the rest of the ecosystem. He added: “There are some excellent location providers in the market.

"However the opaqueness of location data and programmatic execution, combined with the significant premium for location-based inventory, means it’s open to potential abuse.”

Industry benchmark

To caveat this, Location Sciences is speaking to a number of trade bodies including Isba, the IAB and Jicwebs to make sure there’s a common framework for the industry.

“We hope to launch industry benchmarks to make the industry understand what’s good and what’s bad,” he added. “What we see in our early discussions is that there’s definitely interesting in getting these [set up].”

For Wayne Blodwell, founder and chief executive at consultancy The Programmatic Advisory, the move towards having an accurate, GDPR-compliant tool independent of media is a solid one.

“The fact it’s are decoupled from media is really good,” he said, “previously you just had to trust what the provider was telling you, so I think this solution, - so long as they’ve got sufficient scale – will gain traction.”

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