Factual Adds Context to Location With New API

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Factual has added deeper analytics to its compendium of location data services with the release of its new Geopulse API this morning.  The API enables developers to retrieve contextual information — commercial profiles and density scores as well as demographic indicators like age, gender, and median income — for a given location across Factual’s 50-country reach.

The API will serve as the umbrella for a group of forthcoming products, which appear largely aimed at helping ad tech services optimize their targeting parameters. Bill Michels, VP of business at Factual, says that new “pulses,” which the company plans to release iteratively over the next month, will likely focus on “other great targeting parameters like pulling together social information, social scores, and social pulses around different geo points.”

Factual was launched in 2008 by Applied Semantics co-founder Gil Elbaz, and has since built a business on selling its data through APIs and direct partnerships with big players like Facebook and Newsweek. The company has pieced together a massive dataset largely on the backs of web crawlers, which use machine learning to identify and structure place information from across the open web.

“We have a great business with developers using our API’s for place data, and this is sort of a natural evolution,” Michels told Street Fight. “We want to add more contextual relevance to the queries they make and open up new use cases with that same place data.”

The Geopulse API gives Factual a much-improved presence in the growing advertising technology space and puts the company in direct competition with location intelligence providers like PlaceIQ.  Though its unclear how the services stack up at this point, Factual will likely go after the mobile exchanges and networks that make up PlaceIQ’s bread-and-butter.

Part of the “natural evolution,” which Michels refers to, is in moving beyond thinking of location as a question of “where” and beginning to tap into its ability to provide answers around who, what and why. The latter questions not only open up new use cases for local information but are, in a sense, substantially more scalable for larger brands. Though the “ping me when I walk next to your store” use case remains attractive on a high-level, tying location to indicators outside of proximity opens a dataset like Factual’s to national brands and their advertising partners, which talk in terms of audience, not location.

The company also announced that it has hooked up with hyperlocal advertising startup ThinkNear, a fellow Los Angeles-based company that runs proximity-based mobile ad campaigns, as a launch partner.

Steve Jacobs is an associate editor at Street Fight.


ThinkNear’s CEO Eli Portnoy and PlaceIQ’s CEO Duncan McCall are both slated to speak at Street Fight Summit West in San Francisco on June 5th. Ticket prices are about to rise — reserve yours today.