How Brands Are Getting More Sophisticated at Using Location Data

And a look at what’s next for marketers

By Brian Czarny

Location data is powering ad targeting, customer insights, user engagement and campaign measurement and has established equal footing with traditional assets like purchase histories, digital interactions, and email response rates. Marketers need to keenly focus on leveraging location data or miss out on crucial opportunities to engage customers and acquire new ones.

For instance, during an Adweek-hosted roundtable last fall, a HotelTonight exec stated that well-timed, location-targeted ads have been “incredibly successful” for the brand. BMW has won accolades for measuring campaign effectiveness with location data when it comes to dealer visits and sales. According to researcher BIA/Kelsey, location-based ad spending in the U.S. will grow to $38.7 billion in 2022, up from $17.1 billion last year.

Such tremendous growth isn’t shocking when one considers positive, tech-based developments in modeling mobile device state (i.e., a consumer’s “state” denotes if he or she is at home, work, on the move, at a restaurant, at a park), quality filtering of device source data, and building “places” (or point-of-interest data), all of which now leverage machine-learning techniques and large data assets for training and modeling.

But even with the growing importance of location data, it’s often also one of the most misunderstood areas in marketing. Let’s demystify the space a little with an overview of the rise of location data and how marketers are increasingly using these insights to target ads, develop customer experiences and build their businesses.

Geofencing garnered early-days buzz

Location data has always been of interest to marketers, but it really came into vogue circa 2010 with brands like Starbucks, The North Face and L’Oreal testing geofencing, a technique that employs GPS or radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, such as beacons, to define a geographic boundary to trigger a location-based mobile ad in real time.






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