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The Power of Online and Offline Location Data

Location data, like all data used for targeting, has a lot of complexity, sources and value. Often it’s overlooked or just added to a campaign without much thought. In this post, we look at how location data is collected and some best practices on how to maximize location data as a marketer.

In the online world, using location-based targeting in digital media campaigns is nothing new.  As the rise of mobile location-enabled inventory increased so did the number of companies offering different sets of “online” location data. Many companies track and aggregate this online location data. For example, they target anyone who has driven past a certain chain store location in the last 30 days or frequently visits a particular place. Again, this is information about where a person/phone has been.

In the offline marketing world, location information has been at the core for more than 30 years –  direct mail sent to someone’s home. While it may sound simple, when you think about homes also being apartments, duplexes, multi-family dwellings, retirements facilities, targeting an address is half the battle. Not to mention dealing with the changes when people move. Acxiom and other companies have spent more than 30 years compiling location information about the people who reside in a given physical location at any given time.

As Doc Brown told Marty, in Back to the Future III, “Marty, you’re not thinking fourth dimensionally!” Most markets, like Marty, “have a real problem with that.”

Marketers need to know more than just what has happened in the past; they need to know about the future.  Since no one is a soothsayer, how can a marketer know where people will be – and when? Bringing together online and offline data allows marketers to anticipate interactions before they happen.  For example, by targeting a specific group of people who frequent a location that is also more than 500 miles from their home during the work week, you can start to put some real context into understanding more about who these people are. From there, you can target specific messages based on what you think they are going to do.

Here are a few ways we’ve helped marketers increase the value of location-based targeting, by combining offline and online location data.

  • Looking for business travelers? Find people during the week who are within 10 minutes of popular hotels after 5 p.m. but still more than 1,000 miles from their primary residences.

  • Want new airline customers? Target people who live near their hub but are currently in a spot that is more than 500 miles from their home.

  • Someone with a young family just moved to a new house two states away. Find friends and relatives who might want to take a flight to visit them.

Location data is most valuable when combined with offline data.  Marketers should look for data suppliers that can offer rich, accurate and privacy-conscious offline location data that can be used to augment digital location data. Acxiom offers not only a rich set of offline location data but also quickly onboards that data to major digital platforms.

Where does online location data come from? It is usually gathered from phones via an application that sometimes is running in the background. Most games and other free apps use a software development kit, or “SDK, that allows the app to access the phone’s location, sometimes as specific as latitude/longitude.

This information can be sent to the application to help power the ads that are delivered. The ad server, SSP or any other system in the supply chain uses this location data to determine if there is any geography-specific offer available.  This is a common practice for local car dealerships. They log into a Google account, set up a simple banner ad and target anyone within 50 miles of their dealership.

And to all my local car dealerships with the 0% APR offers: I don’t tend to buy a car when I am traveling for business. Save the inventory for someone who lives nearby.

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