Geo-Data Is No Longer Just A Targeting Tool; It’s An ‘Understanding’ Instrument

Location-specialist PlaceIQ has been looking beyond mobile and beyond geo-fencing strategies as it charts its growth plan.

PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall
PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall

Sooner than later, all advertising will include some form of location-based data, contends PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall. The question is how fast that will happen. In McCall’s view, it will depend on how quickly brands, agencies, and companies in the advertising analytics space start pushing for location information to power consumer insights, not just where they and their smartphones happen to be at a particular moment in time.

GeoMarketing: What’s PlaceIQ’s value proposition in the marketplace in general and to local retailers/businesses in particular?

Duncan McCall: For organizations seeking to understand human behavior, PlaceIQ derives intelligence from activities across time, space and devices, to uncover opportunities, learn about and connect with consumers with unrivaled clarity, quality and relevance. We understand, define and reach audiences more intelligently by delivering messages to consumers based on where they are and where they have been at the most opportune moments. Our half a trillion diverse data points absorbed from multiple sources are mapped to our patented platform, which cleans, organizes and empowers the data it collects. This allows us to effectively use the data to analyze and predict human behavior.

Who does PlaceIQ primarily serve? Agencies? Marketers? Both equally? 

PlaceIQ provides actionable intelligence for advertisers and brands based on consumer behaviors. Our data-driven approach enables brands to apply these insights across a number of digital mediums and varying markets. We work with both agencies and brand marketers to deliver advertising campaigns and gain insights about consumers.

Do you also work directly with publishers and other third-party vendors? If so, how?

PlaceIQ works with over 40 third party data sources, which we ingest, scrub and map to our proprietary tile structure. Some of the data sources are public while others come from exclusive partnerships with trusted vendors. We also have created a high quality dataset of hand drawn polygons that combine to give us an accurate, multi-dimensional view of the United States.

In addition, PlaceIQ has partnered with several ad networks and exchanges to see the movement of devices through time and space. This allows us to monitor, measure and model real world behavior of consumers.

Are “PIQ Analytics” and “PreVisit” the primary tools PlaceIQ offers to clients? What’s the value prop there?

PIQ Analytics provides marketers with a multidimensional, deep understanding of mobile audiences’ behaviors across location and time by analyzing their movements in the real world. As devices move through our platform, we can aggregate and analyze the tiles they visit. This capability enables marketers to understand the demographics and behavioral habits of audiences.

PreVisit analysis offers insight and understanding in location histories. It determines where consumers were prior to arriving at a brand’s physical location. This visibility and context into location histories adds a differentiated and realistic depiction of audience behaviors that is indispensable to brands.

We also offer Place Visit Rate (PVR), a real-world KPI that measures in-store ROI. PVR is measured by aggregating all the devices messaged during a campaign and analyzing the number of those devices that were later seen within a target location.

As a server of location-based ads, how are methods like geo-fencing, geo-conquesting and the ability to target based on mobile phones’ unique identifiers evolving for marketers?

We have been at this for over four years now and it is tremendous to see the evolution in the market. Initially the focus in the market was very much around the basic concept of proximity based targeting, but we have been constantly pushing the envelope with our clients, to move more towards mobile and location as keys to understanding consumer behavior and building high fidelity flexible audience types. This means using location and location history to build behavioral profiles (we were the first company to do this at scale) and using location as a new form of KPI with Place Visit Rate, which attributes advertising to store visitation and much more.

Looking expansively at the approaches many marketers and mobile ad tech companies take in the marketplace, what sort of trends are you waiting to develop? Which ones do you hope will fade?

One huge development we are working on — which we believe will be an important trend — is this next phase, where location moves beyond proximity-based targeting, and instead, becomes a powerful connective force to understand consumer behavior across both the physical and digital worlds.

In terms of what we think will fade, perhaps one major trend would be the concept of ‘location’ as a standalone separate silo. Location is simply a vertical enabler; it is an omnipresent force across consumer behavior and marketing. We believe smart marketers will learn to harness location in a variety of ways across a diverse set of marketing techniques and mediums.

In that vein, what do you make of techniques like “point-of-interest targeting?” Does it work? Why or why not?

“Point-of-interest targeting” can be an effective technique if a marketer simply wishes to target consumers at a specific point of interest, for example, a point of purchase such as an auto dealership. However, most often, the technique is only effective when used as one strategy in an intelligently planned campaign that includes the rest of the consumer journey. Simply targeting consumers in the narrow perspective of the point of purchase often lacks sufficient scale and presents a series of challenges when effecting purchase decisions.

A more effective campaign and an approach we typically recommend is defining the consumer journey of the intended audience and intelligently messaging that audience throughout that consumer journey at the right moments, with the right type of creative, so that by the time they might see the final advertisement at the point of purchase it’s part of a holistic marketing strategy, not just a standalone, disconnected message.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.