With Disparate Data, Factual Founder Sees Opportunity

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TT3_2527In a fireside chat with Marketing Evolution CEO Rex Briggs at Street Fight Summit West Tuesday, Gil Elbaz, chief executive at Factual, the location data company, said there’s a massive opportunity for startups to help digest and analyze the massive amount of data coming from mobile devices. The challenge, says Elbaz, is folding additional information into location data to help better understand the context of the user.

“There’s a huge pressure on companies to use every piece of data that comes in today,” said Elbaz. “The opportunity for new companies is to start to combine [proprietary data like] location with something like a social signal, or other third party data sets is massive.”

Elbaz’s focus on fusing location with other data is part of a wider shift within the industry to frame location data as a means to an end, not an end in itself. For some in mobile advertising that means using location in conjunction with traditional marketing data to help determine familiar concepts like audience or engagement that transcend local.

“What we’re talking about today is the transition to where, at a national scale, you can leverage pockets of hyperlocal inventory and targeting,” said Elbaz. “It requires lots of thinking across the stack, not only what does this campaign look like, but what dynamic user experience could make the user experience more engaging.”

For Elbaz, it’s a familiar shift to navigate. The company he sold to Google, Applied Semantics, helped form the foundation for AdSense, and usher in an area in desktop advertising in which contextual targeting is accepted as an absolute.

“There was a time where it didn’t make sense that ads should be contextual on the web,”said Elbaz, speaking about the state of mobile advertising today. Then people started seeing contextual ads, and it made sense that advertisers are going to move to a world where ads would be based on the [context of the user].”

The trouble with mobile, however, is that that unlike on the desktop, the user’s physical context is constantly changing. In addition to the content that a user is consuming (e.g. website or mobile app), mobile introduces a new, geographic dimension for advertisers to consider.

To understand that context, marketers and developers need to trust their data scientists (“don’t hate on them”), said Elbaz. “Build a culture of respect. Ask the right questions, and then let data tell you the answers,” he added.

Street Fight Summit 2013 is coming soon to NYC. Find out what’s happening and how you can get a seat at Street Fight’s flagship event here.

Related: Check out “Hyperlocal Targeting on the Mobile Platform,” a new white paper on the opportunities and challenges in this dynamic new area.