As Advertisers Clamor For Location Data, Can Publishers Deliver?

jamiemolnarThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Jamie Molnar, senior manager of mobile client solutions at The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

Precise and accurate location data is invaluable. It provides a wealth of information on consumers based on their real-world behaviors – not just what they say they are doing.

This data set goes beyond stale demographics and allows for the inference of intent. On mobile devices, location targeting gives brands a way to connect with consumers like never before, in the moments that matter the most.

Location is a powerful data set for several reasons. It enhances a marketer’s ability to develop insights about consumer behavior and mobility. It also aids hyperefficient targeting and message relevancy while improving attribution.

Due to the growing demand and revenue potential, many publishers offer some type of location targeting. However, most publishers don’t have true first-party data at scale so they have to rely on partnerships with ad networks, who in turn get their inventory from many disparate apps. Location targeting has become the Wild West, with no set industry standards that publishers must adhere to, which leaves some to speculate that at least 90% of the location data appended to ad inventory is inaccurate.

With location-targeted ad revenues estimated to hit $18.2 billion by 2019, are publishers doing everything they can to provide marketers with a robust location solution?

As publishers, our goal is to create meaningful experiences for our consumers, but those experiences shouldn’t end with the content on our platforms. It should extend to the advertising experiences we present to consumers.

Understand The Brand’s Goals

It starts by partnering with advertisers, really digging in and determining what a successful campaign means to them.

Are retailers, for example, leveraging location data but still measuring success with click-through rates (CTR)? Are they looking to drive and measure in-store traffic? Do they want to go beyond foot traffic to measure in-store purchases?

CTR is a great measure of engagement with an ad, but today’s savvy marketers are thinking far beyond click-through rates. Attribution allows us to finally draw a straight line between ad exposure and consumer action. Thus, it’s imperative that publishers can help measure in-store foot traffic.

But true attribution doesn’t end there. There are also in-store beacons. If device location data can determine if consumers went into a store, beacons can tell us a whole lot more about the behavior within a store footprint, which adds another level of granularity to location data.

In-store beacons are important because they allow brands to determine exactly where a consumer is, the path they take from one department or product to another and how long they spend in each section of the store. They help brands connect in-store behavior to online info, such as demographics or interests, and payment, depending on the app. They also close the loop between ad exposure and in-store purchase or activity.

Understand the Industry

For both publishers and advertisers, all of this can be an intimidating challenge. Marketers are asking themselves, “Who can I trust with my media dollars?” With publishers and ad networks all vying for the same dollars and promising to deliver their ideal consumer, it can be tough to navigate. Marketers need to educate themselves and ask the tough questions. The “IAB Location Data Buyers Guide” does a great job outlining the questions any media buyer should ask a publisher.

For publishers, the task can be even more daunting. First, they need a dedicated app team in place to ensure that the data they are appending to ad inventory is accurate enough for quality ad targeting. They must educate their internal teams with resources such as the recently released “IAB Mobile Location Data Guide for Publishers.”

Since the industry is rallying around the need for a set of standards to ensure that advertisers are truly reaching their intended target, publishers need to educate their sales teams so they can have a quality dialogue with their advertisers on the subject.

Finally … don’t forget the creative.

The Creative Matters

Hypertargeted ads are a wonderful thing, but if the creative isn’t compelling to a consumer a brand’s message will fall flat. Publishers spend hours focused on great storytelling, but if all they offer advertisers is a standard banner ad, everyone’s strategy fails.

Publishers need to think about their platforms and what truly unique ad offerings they can provide marketers that are unique to their platform? Do publishers have location-aware creative that points consumers to the closest retail locations? How about creative that consumers can share socially? Do they have an in-house creative studio that can help brands develop and build beautiful creatives that are unique to their platform?

Marketers are smart. They know their business and have a robust location strategy to reach their ideal consumers. They have plenty of options when deciding where to spend their media dollars. For publishers, the key to making sure marketers spend their budgets with them is to offer unique and differentiated offerings from targeting to attribution.

Follow The Weather Company (@weatherchannel) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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