The Guardian And xAd Form Online Insights Panel On Location Advertising

The UK media company and the geo-marketplace platform hope to predict and chart the direction of ad tech.

xAd and The Guardian attempt to "locate the future."
xAd and The Guardian attempt to “locate the future.”

With location ad technology moving from the “niche phase” into a more central part of mainstream marketing, xAd and The Guardian Media & Tech Network are partnering on a virtual forum designed to both provide insights as well as shape the path geomarketing is taking.

Aside from serving as a hub for news and The Future of Advertising, as the project is dubbed, it also represents the latest iteration of content marketing and native advertising that traditional media outlets such as the UK-based Guardian and New York tech companies like xAd are increasingly finding themselves involved in. (GeoMarketing, for instance, is solely sponsored by Digital Presence Management provider Yext, though that company plays no role in our news gathering or reporting functions, which are completely independent.)

The content on The Future of Advertising includes a mix of non-bylined xAd posts like “Is Location The Holy Grail of Advertising?” It’s also running opinion pieces such as “What Will 2025 Look Like?”, which was authored by xAd partner Havas Media’s Amy Kean, who heads up the media agency’s Futures unit.

“One of the key focuses will be on how mobile and the location insights it provides affect the future of media, marketing, and advertising,” says xAd in a blog post heralding the launch of its Guardian partnership. “This program is especially exciting for us, as it shows the broad interest in location growing around the world.

Geo-Education 101

The partnership is driven by trends in online publishing, along with the rapid rise of “location” as an advertising discipline and the desire of companies in the space to have the concept clearly defined.

For publishers like The Guardian, which is well-regarded for its left-leaning coverage of political and global events, finding ways of extending its tech and business news content more internationally has been a major part of its growth plans for years (More full disclosure: I worked for a news site called paidContent that was once owned by The Guardian).

As a sign of how deeply The Guardian has considered its involvement with ad tech, about two years ago, the media company created a sell-side trading desk and private marketplace with programmatic operator MediaMath.

“Modern advertising is one of the most fluid and complex areas within media. The Guardian Media & Tech Network is delighted to be working with xAd to bring perspective and clarity to some of the key themes driving change in the sector, through our world-leading journalism and expertise in the media and technology space,” said Robin Hough, editor of The Guardian Media & Tech Network, in a statement.

Thought Leadership Steps

xAd's Sarah Ohle
xAd’s Sarah Ohle

For xAd, working with The Guardian is another step in crafting its own “thought leadership” profile in the marketplace.

Last year, xAd created its Location University, which is something of a virtual think tank. It also introduced Location Labs as an area in its New York office to test new programs around geo-data. Before those two efforts, xAd developed research studies under the heading “Mobile Path to Purchase,” with Nielsen and Telmetrics, that is now in its fourth year.

That timeline is interesting, since four years ago, xAd was considered a mobile ad network that happened to specialize in “hyperlocal” targeting. As the company grew, it updated its image to be seen as a mobile/location-ad based “platform company.” These days, it prefers to be described as a location marketplace, where all parts of the industry, buyers, sellers, and even third party platform players like programmatic player PubMatic, can congregate.

With its expertise and persona set around geomarketing, xAd is continuing to build out its Footprints data tool. Along with its Location Lab showcase, Footprints is a digital display clients can access to view blips on a map showing smartphone activity at any given moment.

As a data visualization tool, Footprints provides real-time data on over 100 million consumers’ mobile visits at more than 18 million businesses, said Sarah Ohle, xAd’s marketing director.

“It’s always going to be updated and refined,” Ohle said of Footprints and xAd’s other data tools. “So many of the things you’re seeing from us these days is all tied to understanding — and explaining — what agencies and brands think is important. From there, it’s about translating that importance to everyone else about what’s happening in location-based marketing.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

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