How Location Data Providers Can Filter Out Bidstream ‘Noise’ For Quality Attribution

Hill Holliday’s media shop Trilia is adopting NinthDecimal’s offline attribution technology to track physical world ROI for cross-channel campaigns.

As geo-data becomes a central component to drive cross-platform ad delivery, Hill Holiday’s media buying and planning arm Trilia is aligning itself with omnichannel measurement provider NinthDecimal.

The deal calls for Trilia to receive real-time access to NinthDecimal’s audience insights and ROI analytics offering, the Location Conversion Index, which is based on consumers’ mobile-based, physical world patterns.

Trilia’s clients, which include Dunkin Donuts, John Hancock, TJX and other major brands, can now use NinthDecimal’s location-based audience ad targeting for direct and programmatic campaigns.

“Trilia will be able to overlay their clients’ CRM data with NinthDecimal’s audience insights so they can better understand what their customers are doing in the physical world as well as digitally,” says NinthDecimal President David Staas. “As a result, Trilia will be able to create a full view of their clients’ customers, which will help inform content, messaging, media strategy and bring even more accuracy to data-driven decisions. The partnership also sets the framework for creating value in media activation, leveraging unique audience building capabilities powered by NinthDecimal specific to each Trilia client.”

Where Does The Location Data Come From?

By getting an even closer understanding of clients’ needs through a data exchange with Trilia, NinthDecimal is able to better align its product roadmap to specific market demands as brands put more resources into mobile advertising and omnichannel strategies, Staas adds.

While there are several ways of accessing consumers’ location data to prove that an ad led to consumers to purchase an item in a store — such as relying on patrons to actively check in to a place using social media or rewards-based apps — NinthDecimal’s own attribution and targeting data comes from filters billions of monthly impressions in an effort to attach the correct audience and consumer segments to targeted campaigns.

“We have proprietary relationships in addition to working with a number of exchange partners (for scaled bidstream data) and will have added new exchange partners by the end of 2016,” Staas notes. “Additionally, we have made great strides in adding more private marketplace partnerships that have scaled our access to direct inventory.”

Private marketplaces are a programmatic tool for publishers and ad sellers that gives them more control over pricing and what kind of marketers get to access to their inventory. In a sense, it automates the traditional sales process by allowing publishers to pre-select the brands it works with.

“Often times, this direct inventory has high-quality, location data attached,” Staas says. “In addition, we are starting to enter into ‘Publisher Solutions’ relationships, that allow NinthDecimal to ingest an ample amount of non-advertising related data, enabling us to enhance our audience and user profiles even further.”

Challenges of Bidstream Data Sources

As marketers demand greater transparency about the data sources, there has been a good deal of debate and confusion about the value and limits of bidstream, or data that comes from exchanges.

One of the problems that is regularly mentioned by marketers, is that this data often depends on a person opening an ad on their phone while they’re in a specific place. The publisher who’s ad is opened in that moment receives the data and passes it on to the network or vendor that placed the ad. If that person who saw the placement then goes to a store that was advertised, that visit counts as being “attributed.”

Of course, a phone’s location services records signals from hundreds of places in a given day. The odds of the information being attributed coincidentally (i.e., incorrectly) is a challenge that comes with real-time data platforms.

Quality bidstream location data, like those coming directly from publishers, is generated from the mobile device native location-based services, which use a combination of GPS, wifi, and other signals. That data is then pulled by the app developer via the phone’s SDKs. The process is the same whether the app sends location data via the exchange (bidstream) or direct. Regardless of a location data’s origin, bidstream or direct from publishers, it’s important to filter data and curate sources as well as recognize and filter low-precision signals.

“NinthDecimal believes it’s extremely important to filter location data in order to achieve the highest precision possible, which is why we take three key steps to ensure we are reaching that pinnacle,” Staas tells GeoMarketing. “Only after this process has happened does location data truly become physical world behavioral data and worthy of making decisions with.”

Those three steps are:

  • Step 1: Knowing that only 60 percent of inbound data is the type we want, we use several filters to eliminate cached IP Addresses, centroids, any signals less than five decimals. We only process data inside The Drift Zone – accuracy range for mobile location signals generated by today’s mobile devices.
  • Step 2: We study the length of user sessions to understand when in the session is prime-time for accurate signals.  We do this to refine what is known as horizontal accuracy (how we know the “blue dot” is one meter vs. 100 meters). We’ve created a robust process to understand the Blue Dot Effect ingesting location services data makes it the most precise.
  • Step 3: Multi-geocoding process to determine the context of a location. We use several, ever-refreshing map databases to cross-reference the address, boundaries of a location, and the category of this entity (restaurant, office, park).  Most companies only partner with one map database, or worse, use their own uncorroborated understanding of places.

Those steps have won Trilia’s confidence.

“Our agency is founded on the principle that combining science with ideas leads to better outcomes, and NinthDecimal’s precision and accuracy makes them the perfect data partner to drive intelligent and informed campaigns on behalf of our clients,” said Trilia President Cindy Stockwell. “We already share a number of major clients, and the new partnership will streamline the way we integrate NinthDecimal’s unique data into every aspect of our campaigns.”

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.