With New Dashboards, Factual Puts a Face on Its Data

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5ca5f_factual_logo_dec10Factual is making a bigger push into the media business. The data company has released a new self-service tool to allow agencies, publishers and demand-side platforms to segment and build audiences using the company’s location analytics toolset.

Last year, the firm entered the mobile ad fray with two new products. A geo-fencing API called GeoPulse Proximity and more recently, GeoPulse Audience, an API that returns a psychographic profile for a potential user based on historical location data collected by a publisher or technology firm.

The dashboard effectively puts a front door on these APIs. The products, Proximity Designer and Audience Designer, offer partners a way to visualize and analyze the data, which they collect, using the company’s analytics and audience segmentations tools. Before, a client, say a demand-side platform, would have to rely on Factual’s team to process and create the audiences on a one off basis; now they can use tool to create their own segments directly.

The dashboard isn’t a surprising move; but it’s another indicator that the well-capitalized firm is serious about the advertising technology industry. The dashboards do not impact the core targeting capabilities, but they provide the sales teams at partner firms such as StrikeAd and The Weather Company with the visualization tools needed to demonstrate the capabilities of Factual’s dataset.

From a strategic standpoint, the emergence of a data play like Factual could undercut the position of location-centric mobile advertising firms such as xAd and Thinknear. The company essentially packages the location data expertise, which contributes to these firms competitive advantage, into a white label service, allowing more general firms — the Strike Ad’s and Turn’s of the world — ro offer competitive technology to the focused verticals. Of course, these firms have other assets — most notably, their networks — but it undoubtedly chips away at their advantage.

Here’s what Bill Michels, SVP of product management & partnership at Factual, told me about their competitive position.

“Since we’re not in the I/O game, we do not compete directly with [the mobile-local ad firms. At the same time, we are giving a unique data asset and stack for other publishers as well as DSPs to compete against those firms. But again, it’s less of location and more of audience. “

The data business is a difficult one, and we have seen others — namely, PlaceIQ — monetize through the media side of the equation.  I talked with Duncan McCall, chief executive at PlaceIQ, yesterday about the company’s attribution partnership with a television network and he says the company has already expanded beyond media, but it remains “early days” for its non-marketing data business.

For the most part, it’s about budgets. Large companies have existing budgets allocated for media spending, but little for data. That may change, but until then these location data business need to at least need to start with the ad market.