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Placed Vies To Be ‘Geo-Measurement’ Currency, With A Little Help From IPG

The location-analytics player banks additional investment and adds three new ad tech partners.

David Shim, Placed's CEO
David Shim, Placed’s CEO

The strategic partnership between Interpublic Group and location analytics provider Placed represents the latest example of how geo-data is becoming a permanent part of the mainstream advertising landscape. The non-exclusive agreement between the ad holding company’s IPG Media Lab unit and the location-measurement platform comes with an undisclosed investment from the global agency powerhouse into Placed, which last June raised a $10 million second round funding.

The same week Placed scored its latest backing, geo-marketing platform xAd raised $50 million to advance its global expansion and product rollout. In April, the New York-based company released FootPrints, a data visualization program that highlights real-time in-store mobile activity on a digital map. FootPrints is being aimed at agencies and marketers as a way to see what locations are most active and ripe for in-store ad targeting.

Like xAd, Placed has been prepping for the take-off of geo-marketing for years. Both companies started out focusing on targeting ads and gathering data in proximity to brick-and-mortar businesses; but over the past year, they, and others in the space such as Factual, ThinkNear and Verve Mobile have looked for ways to strengthen their indoor retail metrics and skill sets. Other geo-data specialists, like PlaceIQ, are expected to release additional in-store ad products by the end of the year.

What Bubble?

The increased focus on location data by the more traditional parts of the ad industry, and the investment money pouring into companies operating in the space, also brings with it some degree of doubt and a number of questions. Is there enough differentiation in the location-based ad marketplace? With investment capital rising, is there a chance of a bubble bursting at some point?

“Recent investments in the location space highlight the maturation of location as a requirement for mobile, advertising, and analytics,” says Placed CEO and founder David Shim, waving off talk of a bubble.

Certainly, Placed doesn’t want the focus to be only about the money. Instead, Placed would like attention to be paid to the range of partnerships it has racked up in recent months, such as its in-store analytics work on behalf of The Weather Channel and Ace Hardware. The timing of its announcement also provided the three-year-old Seattle analytics company a reason to mention the addition and expansion of other ad tech companies: audience buying platforms Collective and Dstillery, and mobile ad tech marketplace SessionM.

“Each partner brings with them a unique set of offerings that make them best in class,” Shim says. “Placed simply quantifies the offline impact of each partner’s digital solutions to provide advertisers an omni-channel view into conversions.”

Mainstreaming Mobile Commerce

As mobility and commerce become more mainstream, the notion of how mobile is part of offline shopping has made the need to understand and target based on consumers’ on-the-go behaviors more necessary for marketers. In staking out its own point of differentiation, Placed aims to show clients how consumers are interacting with a brand on their smartphones. On top of that, Placed claims it can clearly demonstrate the impact of mobile ads driving sales at physical retail locations.

Placed has a set of attribution tools built on its two-year-old “Placed Panels” audience measurement offering. The product was typically aimed at publishers as a way to package their audience to marketers as an alternative to talking about demographics, which is vague in comparison to the profiles gleaned from location data patterns.

The Placed Panels are comprised of roughly 200,000 people who have downloaded the company’s app. As an incentive to get its Placed Panelists to opt-in and report their location, the company’s partners offer consumers deals that include store coupons and donations to select charities. Because Placed’s app is opt-in-only, marketers and agencies don’t have to worry about issues pertaining to consumer privacy.

Agency Endorsement

But there are other pressing concerns, namely the question of whether Placed has a broad enough reach to have all the answers. The company claims that it can measure the location of nearly a quarter of a million devices daily as consumers check-in to brick-and-mortar establishments, yet it only has 200,000 Placed Panelists. If the company’s analytics are to to be regarded by the whole industry as the definitive in-store measurement currency, Placed will have to continue to prove its panelists reflect the wider consumer population.

The endorsement of IPG Media Lab is certainly helpful in backing up Placed’s claims and value. The partnership with IPG and its Media Lab unit highlights Placed’s position as a provider of a specific kind of attribution tool.

Billed as a think tank and a “real-world proving ground” for marketing experimentation, the IPG Media Lab is heavily focused on developing strategies around mobile advertising and social media marketing, two areas that are increasingly entwined with the use of geo-data.

“Mobile spend is the fastest growing media category,” says Chad Stoller, managing partner of the IPG Media Lab. “Placed allows our network to easily and confidently measure attribution and provides marketers with valuable, actionable data to help shape mobile spend.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

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