Why the Industry Needs a Gut-Check on Location Data Use

By kkaye@adage.com (Kate Kaye)


Last year, ads for Goodwill were served to people whose mobile phones had been spotted at thrift shops or second-hand stores in the past. The goal was to convince people who were cleaning out their closets and drawers to consider donating some of their rarely-used stuff to the charity group, and to raise awareness about its education and work training programs. Seems harmless, right?

It was one of a growing number of examples of what some mobile ad tech firms are calling Location Data 2.0. Location data isn’t just about being somewhere right this instant anymore. Today, mobile ad firms and location data players have expanded their offerings to include targeting and campaign measurement services that employ location data gathered over time, showing the patterns of people’s actual whereabouts. Did a mobile device show up in several fast food joints in the past month? Do people often stop at gas stations or convenience stores after hitting the grocery store? Or, on an arguably more sensitive note, was a device regularly spotted at liquor stores, bars or legal recreational cannabis dispensaries?

By associating consumer identifiers with patterns of physical activity and behaviors, advertisers today are gaining knowledge they never had before — information that, unlike survey research or other traditional means of understanding consumers holistically, can provide a remarkable level of insight. Needless to say, mobile tech and data firms are investing resources in creating ad products and services that take full advantage of this compiled information, and more often than not advertisers are gung ho about it.

Last year, ads for Goodwill were served to people whose mobile phones had been spotted at thrift shops or second-hand stores in the past. The goal was to convince people who were cleaning out their closets and drawers to consider donating some of their rarely-used stuff to the charity group, and to raise awareness about its education and work training programs. Seems harmless, right?

It was one of a growing number of examples of what some mobile ad tech firms are calling Location Data 2.0. Location data isn’t just about being somewhere right this instant anymore. Today, mobile ad firms and location data players have expanded their offerings to include targeting and campaign measurement services that employ location data gathered over time, showing the patterns of people’s actual whereabouts. Did a mobile device show up in several fast food joints in the past month? Do people often stop at gas stations or convenience stores after hitting the grocery store? Or, on an arguably more sensitive note, was a device regularly spotted at liquor stores, bars or legal recreational cannabis dispensaries?

By associating consumer identifiers with patterns of physical activity and behaviors, advertisers today are gaining knowledge they never had before — information that, unlike survey research or other traditional means of understanding consumers holistically, can provide a remarkable level of insight. Needless to say, mobile tech and data firms are investing resources in creating ad products and services that take full advantage of this compiled information, and more often than not advertisers are gung ho about it.

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Source:: Advertising Age – Digital