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Mobile Data: More Than Location


laurenmoores“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Lauren Moores, vice president of analytics at Dstillery.

Mobile is becoming the primary bridge between online and offline data, driven largely by the availability of location data via mobile devices. The ability to link a prospective customer’s online and offline behavior promises to be a game changer for ad relevance.

Experts predict rapid revenue growth in the mobile space. Mobile advertising spending will hit $18 billion this year and reach $42 billion in 2017, according to Gartner. Global app revenues, minus advertising, will top $32 billion this year and grow to $66 billion in 2017.

In light of these expectations, the major online properties have been looking for ways to go deeper into the mobile game. A case in point is Yahoo’s recent purchase of Flurry, a mobile analytics firm and supply-side platform with more than 542,000 mobile apps carrying its software development kit (SDK). Why does access to mobile app SDKs matter? Data. Specifically, it is the behavioral and location data from the opt-in users of those apps.

The role of the SDK for mobile apps is equivalent to the role of pixels and cookies on websites. The SDK is a way to report information about the user and the user’s interactions with the app back to the publisher, marketer or developer. Similar to website data, this data can be shared, if permitted, throughout the mobile advertising ecosystem.

We are familiar with the use of location data for building audience profiles and insights based on physical visits to stores, events and other points of interest. But mobile offers much more than location data. Behavioral signals can be picked up from the use of apps, interactions on social media, ecommerce purchases and playing games. More importantly, if you are the owner of the app or the SDK, you may have direct access to demographics or other registration data, which can then be used to create deterministic device matching, ultimately leading to the ability to engage your consumer with relevant content on multiple devices.

The importance of mobile data has not only spread throughout the ad tech industry, it has actually led to the creation of an entirely new subsection of the industry. In addition to mobile marketing agencies, we now see a proliferation of mobile analytics firms following pioneers Flurry, Localytics and Apsalar, as well as companies providing a mobile CRM layer integrating mobile data with data from other media channels, such as CommandIQ and MobileBridge.

These last two companies pitched at the recent MobileBeat Innovation Challenge in San Francisco. It is great to see these new solutions for accessing and integrating mobile user data to guide marketers’ efforts. Location data and app behavioral signals are extremely important on their own, but the combination of the two can tell a much more nuanced story about consumers. Finally, layering this combined data with other channel data can help marketers gain a complete picture of their consumer base and, based on this detailed insight, they can create new comprehensive audience segments to boost relevance and drive results.

Not only can marketers gain insight into their audiences, they can also use this robust data set to deliver cohesive cross-channel campaigns. As consumers jump between devices, matching mobile data to digital data and delivering campaigns seamlessly between the two allows marketers a new set of tools for storytelling that is relevant, timely and compelling.

Mobile has a ways to go to overtake the revenues in TV, print and digital. There is no question, however, that mobile is being woven indelibly into the fabric of the ad tech industry. Mobile data can offer tremendous opportunities to gain insight into consumers or provide new metrics, especially in concert with other channels.


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Mobile offers more than location data, and smart marketers will discover the ability of all forms of mobile data to augment existing data sets and create rich, accurate audience segments that can be activated across channels.

Follow Lauren Moores (@lolomoo), Dstillery (@dstillery) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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