Conference Notebook: Location Data Takes Center Stage

Share this:

biakelseyLocation data was a major topic at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local conference in Boston Tuesday as speakers and panelists discussed the evolving landscape of local marketing services. Much of the conversation focused on how marketers can leverage new and existing data sources to create a more compelling experience for the local consumer.

In a keynote Tuesday, Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot, set the stage, arguing that the web has fundamentally shifted marketing from an “outgoing” to “incoming” behavior.  Halligan, who founded the ecommerce marketing service in 2006,  argued that marketers need to stop looking at messaging channels as a megaphones, which project messages to consumers, and begin to think of themselves as magnets that draw consumers through engaging content. “[Effective marketing] is more about brain cells, than your wallet,” he added, positioning the shift as an opportunity for cash-strapped local advertisers.

The concept plays to a growing focus among local marketers on using data to deliver value to consumers in messaging. During a succession of interviews focused on mobile advertising, speakers discussed the evolving role of location data in the still-nascent mobile display space. Eli Portnoy, the chief of Telenav’s mobile marketing division, Scout Advertising, said that the way in which mobile advertising companies traditionally leverage location needs to expand.

“When location-based advertising first came out, it was a way for us to understand proximity,” said Portnoy, who ran ThinkNear before the startup was acquired by Telenav last fall. Now, the industry needs to expand its definition of, and use case for, location beyond the right-here right-now use case, Portnoy argued.

That means extrapolating location data to define audience, as PlaceIQ, and now, Verve Mobile have done, as well as expanding the reach of location targeting by analyzing historical location data through device identifier analytics.

Speakers also spoke about opportunities in using consumer information — namely, payment data — to help local businesses customize the re-engagement experience (e.g. loyalty) for customers. In an afternoon panel, Angus Davis, CEO of Swipely; Dominic Morea of First Data; and Tom Beecher of Cartera, dissected ongoing efforts within the payment industry for existing players to drive incremental revenues as a marketing channel as well as opportunities for new companies to navigate a notoriously complex sector.

“If you can take [the current invoice] that Bank of America gives to small merchants today, and redirect that money to something that grows that business, you can get them to adopt new programs without incremental costs,” said Davis about Swipely, which has shifted away from the stand-alone loyalty marketing service since its launch in 2009. “The companies that are looking to build stand-alone loyalty products will eventually fail.”

First Data, a legacy transaction processor, is evolving to support this ecosystem by providing the infrastructure for merchant-facing service like Swipely to scale payment integrations. “There’s important information [in payments] that now can be leveraged in a very permission-based and smart way, that can be moved on the demand generation side,” said Morea about the company’s recent efforts. “For us, it’s about being able to prove that there’s been marketable increase in [spend] as part of those programs.”

The takeaway for local marketers is that scaling access to a small business’s customer data, and using that data to drive marketing, is quickly becoming a differentiating asset in the industry. Data should play a key role in not only defining the audience to whom a message is delivered, but in shaping the content of that message as well.

Steven Jacobs is deputy editor at Street Fight.