How we increased the effectiveness of Deliveroo's geo-targeted ads

Alex Keogh, digital lead at the7stars, shares how one simple change helped drastically increase the efficiency of Deliveroo's geotargeted ads.

Media verification has always been incredibly important. Whether it’s BARB for TV, ABCs for publishing or RAJARs for radio, third-party verification gives the advertising industry confidence that media owners are delivering the audiences they are selling.

Agencies are beginning to take stand on transparency in order to generate further trust from clients. Most media agencies now use verification, with Integral Ad Science and MOAT the best-known. But we think this should expand to location targeting.

When verifying our campaign for Deliveroo we found that just 20% of the impressions were delivered in the correct location.

The good news is the verification immediately discovered the issue, and accuracy rose to near 90% after a few fixes. But it makes you wonder if everyone else verifying location data.

To put this into context the UK's digital display ad market was worth £5.25bn in 2018, according to the IAB. eMarketer global estimates suggest that around 25% of the display market is invested in data, of which we estimate around 10% is spent on geolocation data specifically. So if 90% of the data is wrong, this suggests we’re currently wasting around £50m a year on mis-located ads in the UK alone.

Stating the obvious, it’s important that we can trust location data. A good example is Deliveroo’s expansion, the company has been moving its services into new towns and cities. To ensure the success of this venture it had to deliver targeting creative in specific locations as the service became available, with as little wastage outside of the defined areas as possible - was it doable?

Deliveroo provided a UK map with their delivery areas plotted. The first thing to do was identify all the postcodes within these polygon areas, spanning across 77 UK towns and cities, which provided long and complex location targeting criteria to all suppliers.

Each creative execution - both display and video - correlated directly with each area, and the dynamic audio element adapted dependent on region. In some cases, they referenced the location of participating Deliveroo restaurants, which had to be right.

After all, no one living in the Scottish Highlands, out of Deliveroo riders’ zones, needs a promo for a takeaway outlet in Liverpool, for example.

Looking practically; this would not only be a wasted impression for Deliveroo, but also a negative brand experience for a user who is advertised the product but can’t actually use it.

On a recent panel at Advertising Week, Tesco’s Nick Ashley suggested that media owners should bear the cost of verification. While I have sympathy for that view I think the onus is on everyone to raise standards.

So what to do?

The first point is that this is, in our view, a case of error above conspiracy. Although ‘non location specialists’ claim to be capable of location targeting, they often carry large inaccuracies, which hinders the potential of location marketing.

So far, only those with location as their core product have been verifying their data, but this still only applies to mobile display and video inventory. We can’t always rely on these alone to achieve brand objectives so last year we started taking steps to address the rest, including; all desktop inventory, digital audio, and in-app advertising.

Different media owners use different methods for verifying and labelling data, and so variance naturally exists, but we have confidence and know that many media owners have the technical knowledge and expertise to ensure high levels of accuracy and to continually optimise for the best results possible.

But it’s the ones who express constant interest to listen, learn and collaborate, to improve things that stand out: Mobsta, Quantcast, Teads, The Trade Desk, Samba TV, LoopMe, Just Premium, DAX, Ogury, Tabmo are some of the partners we’ve verified. And in every case, bar none, the media owners we spoke to were able to dramatically improve the quality of the targeting after identifying the errors.

Any advertiser targeting at a less than national level, whether that’s regional, targeted towns and cities or smaller ring-fenced locations, should be verifying the location data of all suppliers on their media plans.

The second point is that the fixes are relatively easy for media owners to make. Simple measures such as weekly updating of IP databases, and only trusting data based on fixed-line connections (rather than impressions using cell carrier data) can weed out inaccurate data labelling in DSPs.

And the final point is that the industry needs to take collective responsibility to improve. Agencies need to help clients understand that real, verified, audiences may command a higher CPM, but you can reap the rewards.

With the help of our partner - Location Sciences - verified location data is now standard for every location targeted campaign we run. We have been constantly impressed by their measurement methodology, technical support and expertise.

Our experience with Deliveroo and Location Sciences suggests a benchmark of around 80% should be possible within a few days of the campaign launch with the proper approach; while not perfect, that’s a huge jump from the initial average of 20% - so clearly the upside is significant.

Alex Keogh is digital lead at the7stars

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