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Simpli.fi’s Conversion Zones Draw A Line Between Geofences And Store Visits

The attribution wars remain hot and the battle is expanding beyond mobile to include cross-channel metrics.

Local programmatic platform Simpli.fi is creating Conversion Zones to sharpen the boundaries of its geofences as part of the company’s work to prove that the ads it serves not only reaches the desired consumer target, but that those location-based marketing messages also drives consumers into a store.

Conversion Zones are customizable geofences around a set area that counts the number of consumers that have received a place’s mobile ad and could be tracked physically to mark that they visited a location. The promise of Conversion Zones, like other  forms of attribution, is meant to give advertisers a clear view of how effective their geo-targeted ads are along consumers’ path to purchase.

Simpli.fi’s offering comes amid a flurry of other online-to-offline attribution products entering the mobile and cross-device marketplace. Last month saw the introduction of Foursquare’s aptly named Attribution analytics system. Foursquare’s tool measures over 600 million latitude and longitude pairs sourced from 1 in 300 U.S. adults (a population close to 700,000) who have opted-in to share their locations.

At the same time, geo-data specialist PlaceIQ partnered with Acxiom’s LiveRamp to power location-based ads for automotive, retail, and travel brands to specific households’ set-top boxes with the claim that the two drove a higher average lift in store visitation of 46 percent across the three verticals.

The Year Of Local Attribution

And for the past two years, Placed has struck deals with dozens of agencies and third party platforms on in-store visitation metrics tied to mobile and out-of-home.

It’s easy to see why those companies have been racing to lay claim to the title of “online-to-offline attribution specialist.” By 2020 more than 72 percent of digital ad spend will be aimed at mobile devices, according to a 2015 eMarketer study.

To set itself apart from its rivals, Simpli.fi’s Conversion Zones use the company’s unstructured data capabilities — the term essentially refers to the avoidance of pre-determined, pre-packaged analytics modelling  — to target locations more precisely than grid-based systems.

“We predicted that 2016 was going to be year that saw localized advertisers focus on attribution and ROI of their advertising spend,” said Simpli.fi CEO Frost Prioleau. “Given the growth of the mobile advertising market, we continue to innovate around geo-location services. Last year we introduced our geofencing capabilities, which let advertisers precisely target consumers within defined, customizable geographic area.”

“There are certainly a few companies who are marketing some version of mobile measurement and optimization location visits,” added Simpli.fi CRO James B. Moore.  “However, until now, almost all innovation occurring around feofencing and geo-conversions has come from mobile-only or mobile-specific point solutions.  Simpli.fi has built a complete programmatic targeting stack for display, mobile, video and social.  As such, all of our solutions can be accessed via self-service or through our managed services.”

Most, if not all, demand side platforms operating across all devices and creative types typically embed a third party mobile solution into their User Interface, and thus, increase user costs while sacrificing control around further innovation, Moore noted.

Conversion Zones: An Instrument, Not A Silver Bullet

Conversion Zones will be used in concert with other metrics, Moore noted, suggesting that anyone that claims to have found the “silver bullet” for connecting mobile ads to other channels and, ultimately, store visits, is over-promising.

“Almost all forms of advertising outside of SEM and Yellow Pages have a distributive impact on consumer behavior,” Moore told GeoMarketing. “So, a well-executed display and mobile campaign will lead some to visit a location, others may visit the website, some may perform a branded search, and still others may pick up the phone and make a phone call.  My point is that some clients will specifically deploy audience targeted campaigns and creative designed to drive foot traffic.”

“In this instance, many clients will use Conversion Zones, total location visits and Cost Per Visit as a primary goal, and we will optimize to this metric in the same way we would optimize to a CPA on an e-commerce campaign,” Moore added.

That said, on any campaign, adding the ability to measure foot traffic into one or more locations in relation to online ad exposure is another significant piece of the puzzle in a multi-signal attribution evaluation, Moore said.

But the true challenge is being able to be seen as different enough from other online-to-offline attribution providers.

“The most striking difference between Simpli.fi’s Conversion Zones and panel-based systems is that our technology denotes actual users going into the defined zones, while panel-based systems represent a sampling of users that are statistically amplified using look-alikes, meaning that not all the users noted in a panel actually entered the defined zone,” Moore said. “The difference here is important; our Conversion Zones provide real-data that our clients can make actionable vs. suggested data from a panel-based system that suggests a correlation between actual users and look-alikes.”

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.