Targeting consumers according to their demographic profile is one area where online and offline media buying methods still closely resemble each other. While many ad tech companies have pitched alternatives, such as relying on the social graph to segment consumers, that approach is hindered by guesswork when it comes to drawing on offline behaviors.
When it comes to “opting-in” to sharing user data with marketers, there’s nothing clearer than the ability to turn off a location function through smartphone apps. Still, when asked, most consumers try to avoid marketing messages any way they can. Location analytics provider Placed has these challenges in mind with its latest pitch to marketers, which is nevertheless a twist on one of the oldest analytics methods: panels.
The company’s “Placed Panels” product is being released today and is aimed at publishers as a way to package their audience to marketers as an alternative to talking about demographics. Since users are constantly attached to their mobile devices, Placed is promising to better connect online and offline behaviors, along with brand affinities, says David Shim, Placed’s CEO, in an interview with AdExchanger.
“From a market research standpoint, we’ve found that people are more likely to participate in a location panel, when there is an incentive offered,” Shim says. “Additionally, there is a strong correlation with the panelist’s level of engagement and the value of the incentive.”
That sounds reasonable enough. But then, why would this appeal to marketers, who still spend relatively little on mobile marketing compared to the PC-based web? What’s their incentive to offer consumers incentives?
“Keep in mind that outside the cost of the incentive to panel participants, Placed Panels is a free platform, no strings attached,” Shim responds. “Our goal is to drive the growth of location analytics, and by eliminating one the largest barriers to entry, cost, Placed Panels is democratizing location. With Placed Panels we provide the recruitment page, co-branded app (Android and iOS), and the analytics to analyze your panels’ offline behaviors. All this can be setup in our web interface and live in less than 15 minutes.”
In terms of the packaging of “brand affinities,” Placed Panels believes that segmenting a consumer by knowing that their favorite grocery store is Whole Foods, that they tend to buy gas from Shell stations, that they buy clothes at Nordstrom’s, and bank at Citibank, will aid in forming fuller purchasing profiles than can be found by using demo data.
Like most things, this form of analytics may work better for some marketers than it does for others. For example, a glance at Placed Panels’ top rankings suggest that the opportunities may be reserved for quick serve restaurants and convenience stores. (See the release here for the details.) Shim contends that if the benefits appear weighted to these kind of impulse-oriented businesses, that’s more reflective of the early-stage use of location-based services. He expects the use of geo-targeting to expand over time.
“In the early days of online advertising, the only quantifiable metric was clicks, thus click-through rates became the standard form of optimization,” Shim says. “This lack of measurability hampered the shift of ad dollars to online, that is, until third party ad servers were introduced. TPAS changed things in that it allowed marketers to move beyond clicks, and focus in on conversions, helping drive ad dollars online. Placed Panels and the business rankings are doing what TPAS did for online advertising in that they are quantifying location, making the case for marketers and publishers to push more dollars in mobile, and location based ad targeting.”