PlaceIQ: Location Is Not Mobile Data — It’s Consumer Data

'Location is about much more than mobile,' said PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall. 'It's an all-channel enabler.'

With the proliferation of connected IoT devices and intelligent assistants, marketers have more data to make sense of than ever before — but location is still the glue that can help answer the classic brand question: Where do customers really go, and what do they do there?

“When you start providing services to people across a multitude of new devices, location is one of the omnipresent forces that gives [that interaction] context,” said PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall. “Everyone now knows from smartphones and their applications how important location is. But I do still think there’s still a massive challenge there to have this universal, contextualized dataset that makes sense across different devices that’s also keyed to location.”

At Cannes Lions, McCall and Nadya Kohl, EVP of business development at PlaceIQ, talked to GeoMarketing about the official launch of PlaceIQ’s LandMark location offering — and the challenges of making sense of universal data sets.

GeoMarketing: At Cannes, the application of location data — from smart cities to IoT — has been a hot topic. How do you see the state of location marketing today? Has understanding of the space gone mainstream? 

Nadya Kohl: For us, it has always been about the eternal quest to understand the customer in a 360 degree way. That has become, at this point, a big cliché — but [that means] everyone is finally talking about it.

Back when we started out, the key ingredient that was missing was, “What does the customer really do?” Location data answers that question. Today, people see that.

Duncan McCall: The latest iteration, really, is that we now see the data is powerful enough. The power of location is that it’s a connection between people, places, and things — and it [gives us] a dataset that can be queried in a multitude different ways.

Really where we see it going now is that we’re starting to get to do many of the things that we dreamed about — in which is location is an all-channel enabler, right? It’s not just about doing something mobile; for us, location is not mobile data. It’s consumer data. It happens to be keyed to a device, but it now can be keyed in a priority-friendly way to display, to video, to social. To audiences in SnapChat. You can push it into Facebook. And television: We also work closely with comScore, so from Addressable TV, to linear TV, to out-of-home, there are a whole other multitude of applications.

I think the really exciting thing we see in the market now is this level of intelligent adoption of location [and understanding of what it can provide] that really has taken a long time. We’re there now. And that’s part of what’s behind the launch of LandMark.

You launched LandMark [which is intended to expand and complement PlaceIQ’s existing tools, such as its Place Visit Rate that measures in-store ROI] officially in May. As you described it before, Duncan, LandMark can help narrow a brand’s focus on customers it can reach more easily, as well as striking deals with related hospitality and on-demand services. How was it developed, and what is it doing for marketers today? 

Nadya: We had a beta program [for LandMark], and it was the most successful beta program I’ve ever been involved in — we actually had to close the beta program because literally people were hand raising [wanting to be] part of it. We were able to have a client in each vertical, so that helped us to prove out that value and across different verticals, and in fact, outside of the marketing realm, too.

Duncan: Here’s an example: With Jet Blue [one of the beta testers], we could show them which of their customers are flying with Delta and where are they going to. If they’re flying to the Bay Area or Florida, which are places that Jet Blue has a strong presence in, they can serve ads to geo-conquest those flyers. At the same time, we can avoid sending ads to people traveling routes that Jet Blue doesn’t fly, thereby increasing their ad effectiveness.

Let’s talk about one of the hot topics at Cannes: Looking forward, how are you preparing yourselves for new IoT technologies, intelligent assistants, and more — all generating more data points than ever before? How should brands and marketers be thinking about these technologies?

Duncan: I think you see that companies like Amazon— and to a much greater extent, Google —  have these universal datasets.

Obviously, when you start providing services to people across a multitude of devices, location is one of the omnipresent forces that gives [that interaction] context. Everyone now knows from smartphones and their applications how important location is, but I still think there’s just a massive challenge there to have this universal, contextualized dataset that makes sense across these different devices that’s also keyed to location.

I think there’s going to be a huge opportunity for companies like ours that have built this contextual dataset that spans all these different mediums, but it’s still going to be some time until we really see some mainstream adoption. We’re at the beginning of this large revolution whereby all these data sets [including from connected devices] are getting tied together, but I think there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Nadya: To build on what Duncan is saying, I think that there are aspects of what’s coming that are super sexy — like Alexa, right? Here’s the issue: If I’m a marketer, I now have about seven different “sexy “things I have to learn and understand before I can even figure out how you can effectively use it to sell more things. At the end of the thing, the cash register has to ring, right? [But there’s a learning curve] with these technologies before marketers can even get to that step.

What’s next? What are you thinking about looking at the rest of 2017 and into 2018?

Duncan: We’ve never approached this like a walled garden. We’ve always had different offerings. But now, in particular, we see all these different opportunities, and there are some pretty big deals we’re now doing completely outside of the marketing space.

Some of them are direct to the retail industry but nothing to do with marketing. We’re working in the financial space as well. There’s some interesting stuff there. Really, if you think about the application of the location, it’s incredibly broad if you think simply of the mission to understand consumer behavior — it can be applied to just so many different ways. It’s much bigger than retail.

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Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.