Major Media Buyers Endorse Placed As Main Metric For In-Store Traffic

The Seattle company is “one step closer” to claiming it’s the ad industry’s “single currency” for location analytics.

Placed's David Shim
Placed’s David Shim

Six of the largest media agencies are formally getting behind panel-based geo-analytics company Placed as their primary measurement tool for in-store visits.

“Preferred, non-exclusive” is the operative term in the agreement struck between Placed and its new partners, which include Publicis Groupe’s DigitasLbi and Interpublic Group’s Mediabrands on the holding company side, as well as independent shops Horizon Media, Southwest Media Group, and Crossmedia.

The IPG Mediabrands deal is an extension of the pact Placed reached with that agency’s sister shop, IPG Media Lab, back in September. At that time, David Shim, Placed’s CEO and founder, said that his goal for 2015 was to have the Seattle-based insights recognized as the ad industry’s single currency covering consumers’ brick-and-mortar retail activity.

The Path To Common Currency

By highlighting these formal relationships, Shim can demonstrate that Placed — and the insights into m-commerce and connected consumers’ shopping patterns — is moving from being an ad hoc service to being considered a permanent part of media buyers’ decision-making arsenal.

“These are new partnerships that have only recently been finalized,” Shim said. “That said, many of the client accounts at these agencies have utilized Placed prior to this agreement, and this formalized agreement highlights each agencies’ commitment to using Placed as the common currency for location analytics and attribution across their organization.”

The company’s metrics offering, dubbed Placed Attribution, works by collecting consumer location-based data using a GPS-enabled app that hundreds of thousands of U.S shoppers have downloaded onto their mobile devices.

Users opt-in to an agreement with Placed to have their physical location and demographic profiles anonymously gathered in return for points that can be converted into cash, gift cards, or charitable donations. It’s a system that keeps things safe and private for consumers, which Shim says is a key reason it’s the top choice, and one that won’t be changing.

“The double opt-in [feature] is a key part of our business,” Shim said. “We’ve got 500,000 — about 1 in every of 500 adults in the U.S — and from each of those panelists, we see about 1,000 locations per user per day. That’s about one latitude and longitude every 90 seconds.”

Placed has been picking up speed fast over the past year. Last June, it raked in $10 million in a second round funding. Less than a month later, it declared that it was covering roughly 200 million daily physical retail sites — up 60 percent from the start of 2014. By last fall, on top of the aforementioned IPG Media Labs deal, Placed signed a deal with mobile programmatic player, Adelphic — its first contract with a demand-side platform.

In addition to its six official partners on the buy side, Placed is also working with 35 publishers, who share their aggregated users’ geo-data with the company.

More players will jump on board throughout 2015 as more money pours into the mobile ad space, Shim says, asserting that “dollars are going faster into mobile than anyone expected, especially in 2015.”

Beyond Ad Serving

Increasingly, marketers see mobile as a part of a wider cross-channel advertising strategy. The approach is to look “beyond the device” and see mobile as another touch point for understanding consumers’ interests, personas, and attitudes in context with other media usage. In this emerging view, mobile is more than just another format to serve an ad on.

So as mobile becomes an “insights hub” for marketing in general, the value of positioning Placed’s analytics as the common thread will help it better compete, and in some cases, even collaborate with other geomarketing service providers, including FactualThinkNear, PlaceIQ, xAd, Verve Mobile, and others.

“Advertisers don’t want 30 different options,” Shim said. “People have learned. They want one single standard so they can move forward when it comes to investment in mobile.”