Using Geofence Data to Understand Local Consumers

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With all of the locational data being logged these days, it’s becoming more and more important to have ways to contextualize and understand it all. While this kind of analysis obviously is very important in government, military and non-business environments, it is also highly relevant for merchants and advertisers focusing on hyperlocal targeting and campaign assessment.

Street Fight recently caught up with Frank Moyer, the CEO of geospatial analysis firm GeoIQ, which has developed technology for real-time collection and analysis of locational data. We spoke with him about some of the tools available to marketers for analyzing location data, and how geofencing can be used to suss out the behaviors of consumers on a hyperlocal level.

How can merchants or marketers use geospatial technologies like yours to understand and reach consumers on a hyperlocal level?
Right now, what we’re seeing is an explosion of media channels greater than we’ve ever seen in history. GeoIQ provides a single place where marketers can bring those channels together and analyze where their campaign is most effective across those channels by geography, at a hyperlocal level. We bring all that information into a single analytics dashboard to help them optimize their campaign dollars.

We work with companies that are providing SMS text messaging as well as companies that use geofencing technology to send push notifications on a mobile app. We are channel-agnostic.

In the case of a hyperlocal push notification within a geofence, we analyze how far from the merchant that the deal or advertisement was best received. We’re not just dealing with radius searches. We’re dealing with [the fact that] the inside of the store, to the north of the store, may be more effective than the south side. How do you get more targeted in your push notifications or your mobile advertising so that it doesn’t feel like spam? That’s where we’re trying to move — from the world of spam to the world that is a value-add to the consumer.

We provide additional information layers — demographics, weather — to help [marketers] look at correlations with certain factors. We tie into social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Flickr, and YouTube so clients can pull that information into back-end databases. If they want to bring in their sales data, it’s literally three clicks to connect into their back-end database.

Where do you access the demographic data?
GeoCommons [a Web-based community data and mapping platform, published under Creative Commons] is our asset. It has over 60,000 data sets, including data from The World Bank and the US census. We also work with partners like Experian and Nielsen to provide additional demographic information.

How do you get more targeted in your push notifications or your mobile advertising so that it doesn’t feel like spam? That’s where we’re trying to move — from the world of spam to the world that is a value-add to the consumer.

Any recent hyperlocally-focused case studies you can discuss?
We did some work with Old Navy about 3 months ago to analyze their Booty Appreciation Weekend campaign. Any time someone mentioned “booty” within social media and showed [the mention], they got a 20% discount. We looked at different social media — YouTube, Twitter, Facebook — and compiled that into a real-time visualization for Old Navy to see where their campaign was most effective. It was a beautiful dashboard that was animated over time to show the effectiveness of the campaign throughout the weekend.

Merchants are developing their own apps, focusing on local audiences, and communicating on a hyperlocal level. This seems to mesh with consumers’ increased willingness and desire to track and report on their own behavior.
We look at consumers wanting to report on their lives, and share that with their friends and family through social networks in interesting ways, and which brands they want to engage with at which times. The world of mobile and social [networking] removes that barrier. We believe geography is the key to making that very effective. We see a tremendous opportunity for the application of GeoIQ for both marketers and consumers.

What do you see as the next frontier of geospacial analytics?
The world that we live in now has a lot of open data. That presents a tremendous amount of opportunity for what a lot of the incumbent analytics platforms focus on: closed data, data within the firewall, data that is static.

The data we analyze — and this comes from the work we’ve done with the US Intelligence Community — is dynamic data in real-time that uses geography, which we believe is very important [as well as] providing access to that analysis for everyone. Imagine a world where Twitter has [captured] all the information available of what’s been said in this world, and has stayed “in the wild.” How can we provide analytics in the wild?

Incumbents in traditional geospatial analytics are investing more and more in social media and mobile monitoring, and a lot of start-up companies are attempting to measure this as well.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.