Location-Based Mobile Data Powers Verve’s New Programmatic Offering

Cookies are notoriously useless on mobile, but they’re the bread and butter of the Internet.

If you go to diapers.com and then hit up Buy Buy Baby’s site, it’s likely you have a new baby in the house. If you use your phone in an airport in Miami and then check in to a restaurant in Philadelphia five hours later, it’s pretty clear that you’re a traveler on the move.

Mobile ad tech platform Verve Mobile wants capitalize on the intersection between mobile location data and programmatic with Monday’s launch of Verve Direct.

“Just like cookies create profiles of who people are, location data is stored based on where people go in the real world,” said Verve CEO Tom MacIsaac.

The SaaS tool, which has been in beta for the past three months with several of Verve’s agency and brand clients, allows advertisers to either programmatically buy Verve audience geosegments or target potential customers based on proximity.

In the first instance, users can select from 18 standardized segments based on behavioral profiles derived from location, anything from business travelers to soccer moms to sports enthusiasts. In the second, they can target people within a certain geographical area. Sometimes you want female heads of household with an $100,000 annual income who live in Poughkeepsie. And sometimes you want anyone in-market for a car who’s within a five-mile radius of your car dealership.

“There are two fundamental building blocks when it comes to reaching people — who we think people are based on their psychographic and demographic profile, and where we think people are,” MacIsaac said. “That’s one of the great benefits of mobile, the ability to reach people when they’re out and about rather than when they’re seated at a desk behind a PC.”

Users of Verve Direct also have access to Verve’s in-house mobile rich media platform, which enables them to generate and serve creative assets through the programmatic interface.

The Verve platform, which MacIsaac said sees about 15 billion ad impressions a month, gets its mobile data by collecting multiple observations of unique device IDs as recorded over time along with the businesses where a user shared his or her location. When Verve receives an ad call from an opted-in device, it sees that device’s coordinates as lat long, which the platform uses to determine where the device is, be it at an airport, a hotel or a grocery store. Each location is automatically stored as an attribute, painting a picture of who the consumer is over time.

While the programmatic direct platform was developed with advertisers and regional agencies in mind, MacIsaac said that certain publisher clients have been using it for reach extension. One such client is Richmond, Va.-based publisher Media General, which tapped Verve Direct to help its local newspapers or TV stations purchase additional inventory in order to boost its buys and deliver ads outside of Media General properties.

Although Verve Direct is completely self-serve, MacIsaac said advertisers who need more customized segments will still have access to managed services.

“Some agencies or buyers just want to interface with a software platform, while others will want to continue to interact with a human,” he said. “We’re providing the choice.”

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