How Location Data Can Influence Ad Creation Not Just Targeted Placements

WPP creative shop Y&R has tapped Skyhook Wireless to provide location data that informs the start of the creative process, as opposed to the attribution at the end.

While location services platforms battle it out on attribution to prove whether an ad worked to generate store traffic, WPP Group’s Y&R is working with Skyhook Wireless on using geo-data to help shape creative decision-making at the outset of a campaign.

While the two aren’t discussing which clients they’re collaborating on, Y&R’s client roster includes Campbell’s, JP Morgan Chase, Hilshire Farms, among other major brands.

Although practically every decision in marketing is subjected to some form of “data-driven” instruction, for  JJ Schmuckler, ‎Y&R’s global CMO, the use of location can help cut through the problem of drowning in Big Data that isn’t readily actionable.

“People are often confused about how to harness data for storytelling,” Schmuckler told GeoMarketing. We feel there is a lot more potential for the use of location data than is often used.”

“The point is that most data sets can help you segment and sub-segment and sub-sub-sub-segment audiences,” he continued. “What Skyhook’s location analytics does is help us tell a more holistic story about a particular audience profile. What’s great about that is that audience doesn’t need to be refined or added to. Having a mobile data gives you a fuller picture of that customer journey.”

The Creative Side Of Data

The idea of location being a foundational aspect of the ad creation process is gaining more traction among agencies, noted David Bairstow, Skyhook’s VP, Product Management.

“We’re finding more and more that feeding the creative Y&R’s of the world with understanding that puts them in a better place when it comes to pitching clients their ideas,”Bairstow said. “The creative decision-making point is the perfect place to begin the process, as opposed to simply telling the media buyer where and when to place the ad at the end. We can do audience building and segmentation and attribution, but we can also help start the conversation.”

For the most part, the role determining the use of geo-data has typically been the province of the media buying and planning part of the agency holding company, Schmuckler acknowledged.

“Most data partners inside our family of WPP Group companies tend to work directly with [media buying and planning unit] GroupM,”Schmuckler said. “For us, using location is about making the creative more insight driven. We use it as a foundation to build context, validate or refine ideas we have about creating a campaign.”

The advent of other channels and real-time data collection and targeting has forced the change in how location and other forms of analytics are employed by agencies. Aside from mobile, the rise of the Internet of Things, voice-activated search via digital assistants, as well as augmented reality and virtual reality are opening new avenues for personalized messaging.

“As a data guy, what frustrates me is that any time people are talking about data and marketing, it boils down to one of three things,” Baker Lambert, TBWA Worldwide’s global data director, told us back in January. “They’re either talking about targeting, or they’re talking about efficiency and ROI, or they are talking about audience segmentation.

“In 90 percent of peoples’ minds, that is data. That’s what you do with data and marketing,” Lambert said. What I am much more excited about, and what gets me out of bed in the morning, is the creative side of data.”

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.