PlaceIQ Dives Deeper Into Location-Based Ad Targeting With New Tools

DuncanMcCallWhile location-based ad delivery was once limited strictly to geofencing, the ability to combine device identifiers, geographic coordinates, and customer history data has added sophistication to location targeting.

PlaceIQ is one of the latest companies attempting to introduce more value into location advertising via two product roll-outs last Friday. PIQ Analytics and PreVisit are designed to empower advertisers to target ads against consumers’ behavioral, demographic, and location information.

PlaceIQ builds audience segments using information from publishers’ ad requests. This information often includes persistent device identifiers (such as through Apple’s identiferForAdvertising [IDFA]) as well as latitude and longitude coordinates. PlaceIQ combines this information with other data points including census data, demographic and social data, and any other information that consumers opt into sharing through mobile apps to create audience profiles, said company CEO Duncan McCall.

“We have a team of 15 to 20 data scientists who do what we call ‘social anthropology,’” McCall said. “They’re processing all kinds of data to make sense of consumers’ patterns.”

PIQ Analytics adds to these capabilities by identifying which competitors a brand’s audience is most likely to visit, the restaurants and stores that they typically frequent, and the type of device that they use. PreVisit estimates where consumers were before arriving at a brand’s physical location. Marketers, for example, can use information from PreVisit to target ads to the places their customers travel from most often.

Both tools complement PlaceIQ’s “place visit rate” (PVR) metric. Launched last year, PVR uses location data to determine the percentage of customers that were served a retailer’s mobile banner ad also visited a physical store.

Because the effectiveness of PIQ Analytics and PreVisit depend on scale, retailers in densely-populated areas are most likely to benefit, McCall said. “If you want to know where people were before they arrived at a bakery in Des Moines, Iowa, for example, that could be more difficult to find if many people are not checking their phones and there’s less foot traffic in the area, compared to a Walmart or McDonalds where we are more likely to have a larger sample size that has statistical meaning,” he said.

PlaceIQ also does not identify people’s exact locations. The company’s technology can tell marketers that someone is inside a certain store in a shopping mall, but it would not know which floor or aisle, for example.

Despite these limitations, location data is becoming increasingly helpful in giving marketers a more comprehensive understanding of where consumers’ interests lie and where they are in the purchase funnel, said Shelby Saville, EVP of digital at Spark, a Starcom MediaVest Group agency that uses PlaceIQ’s PVR metrics and is considering its Analytics and PreVisit tools.

“What’s interesting is that two years ago location data as a targeting tool was hardly on anyone’s radar outside of geofencing,” said Saville. “Now we’re using it for insights into people’s shopping behavior as we think about the consumer’s journey and location data helps us understand the customer further.”

PlaceIQ faces competition from other companies that also offer location-based ad targeting capabilities such as Placed, Maponics, xAd and Foursquare, as well as data behemoths like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

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