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PlaceIQ: Making Location Data The Essential ‘Building Blocks’ For Marketing Decisions

'Instead of using it just to inform media decisions, we're seeing extremely advanced use cases for location data that are completely separate from media,' says Place IQ CEO Duncan McCall.

With spending on location-targeted mobile ads (including pure play, radio, television and newspapers) set to reach $38.7 billion by 2022, location marketing has expanded far beyond the “serve a customer a coupon” use case of the early smartphone era.

Still, too many marketers have kept location data in silos, using it to power hyper specific geo-fenced campaigns, but failing to make it a part of holistic media strategy.

But according to Duncan McCall, CEO at PlaceIQ, that’s starting to change: “We are starting to see customers eschew using location data in silos. We’re seeing location-based insights feed a virtuous cycle of that informs media strategy and audience measurement, which provides a constant stream of new insights.”

GeoMarketing: Cannes Lions is a definitely a time for ideation and inspiration. Now that we’re back in the real world, what trends discussed at the event will you seek implement in your work at PlaceIQ?

Duncan McCall: Innovative creative campaigns definitely took the spotlight on the main stage of Cannes Lions, but the most common conversation we had there focused on driving for efficiency and transparency for advertising. Brands and agencies are spending significant marketing dollars on crafting campaigns on the front end, but when it comes to targeting delivery to potential customers, there is a sense they could do better. We’ve been working to introduce new offerings to increase targeting efficiencies, called Smart Market Areas, which help brands avoid targeting customers who will never visit brand locations.

The other common theme was the need for location data accessibility and versatility. Brands and media agencies are understandably meeting with dozens of technology vendors in Cannes, each with their own promise of adding value, but there’s a fear that new technology will add complexity to media decisions. The industry is looking for ways to streamline access to new datasets, instead of having to spend time vetting and onboarding new datasets. Brands are looking for datasets that are ubiquitous and ‘plug and play,’ while also being datasets they can at trust. We’ve been fortunate to team with long list of partners who are leaders in the data ecosystem that have validated our data against others. We’re already partnered with leading DMPs, as well as multi-touch attribution companies and expect to expand our scope there as well.

What we’re focused on, which was another common theme at Cannes, was being able to treat location data as essential ‘building blocks’ for marketing decisions instead of using it just to inform media decisions. We’re seeing extremely advanced use cases for location data that are completely separate from media.

At Cannes, we also showcased another one of our longstanding partnerships with comScore. In addition to the added benefit of a TV viewership data element, this partnership has helped drive increased demand in the publisher realm. Publishers are a rapidly growing customer subset of ours because they’re looking for ways to demonstrate the value of their inventory and prove that brand advertising on their websites lead to real-world visits.

Speaking of location data accessibility, how has location-based marketing advanced over the past year or so, in your opinion? Where are we with understanding (on the brand side) and sophistication?

We are starting to see customers eschew using location data in silos and increasingly use it holistically to inform end-to-end media strategy.

Some brand customers come to us with a pre-existing idea of who their consumers are and how they should be marketing to them, which we can help validate. In cases where the data doesn’t support their initial hypothesis about customers, we’re helping brands discover new opportunities for audience engagement. Either way, we’re seeing location-based insights feed a virtuous cycle of that informs media strategy and audience measurement, which provides a constant stream of new insights.

What about in regards to targeting accuracy and standards?

On the accuracy front, brands are looking for new ways to refine their approach to media targeting. Many brands still rely on using traditional market areas as their media targeting mechanism. The downside is that these market area definitions were created decades ago and do not take into account the way that consumers actually interact in the real world. By targeting large market areas by default, brands are wasting significant ad dollars on consumers who live/work too far away from their brick-and-mortar locations.

On a larger scale, we’re seeing more customers demand that the data they ingest is high quality. Most customers are searching for validation that the location data they’re getting can be trusted. Clients and partners are now testing vendors against ‘truth sets’ or real world outcomes. This process has significantly changed brands’ view of certain data providers in terms of what premier data actually looks like, as most are moving the desire for simple ‘probabilistic location signal’ in favor of a closer understanding of reality. PlaceIQ performs well in these evaluations and data validation processes because data quality and data refinement have been our focus since day one.

You recently partnered with LiveRamp on the creation of location-based audience segments. What’s next for PlaceIQ? Any other upcoming news to share?

PlaceIQ is in a unique market position right now. We started more than 8 years ago and because of that, we’ve been able to understand and learn directly from our customers. We’ve learned a lot about what works best for different customer verticals, particularly retail, CPG, automotive and dining, and will introduce new solutions custom-made to success in each. We’re hard at work on new solutions and expect to announce those soon.

We’re going to continue to invest in our technology and make sure they can access our data in any format they need it in. We’ll continue to partner with data industry leaders to add increased sophistication to the questions brands can answer with location data as well.

Finally, we’re also in the midst of rapid team expansion and are looking to bring on talent for nearly every part of our company.