PlaceIQ Looking to Build a Role for Location Tech Into TV, OOH, and Even Direct Mail

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As brands look for insight into what ads succeed in driving consumers to their brick-and-mortar locations, they’re turning to companies like PlaceIQ. By tapping into consumer’s mobile phone location and movement data — anonymously and with the user opted-in — the NYC-based startup can track what impact a targeted ad had (i.e., whether, over a certain period of days, that person visited the advertised place).

But brands don’t want only to measure the persuasive powers of their mobile ads. They also want to know the efficacy of their TV, OOH, online, and even direct mail efforts, which is where PlaceIQ, with its freshly acquired $25 million, wants to deliver bigger results.

It’s a long way from where the company started in 2010, but PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall insists that the company’s mission has always been to monetize data across the board.

“When we launched six years ago, we were almost too early,” McCall told Street Fight. “It was the height of the recession, and one of the markets that was interested was mobile and mobile advertising. We realized this mobile space was one that people were willing to invest money in.”

Mobile advertising is still important, but McCall underscores that its mobile’s location-detecting powers that is the real goldmine for advertisers in all types of marketing.

“We’ve bridged in TV, and mobile, and cross-screen,” said McCall. “If we have 5 million users [we’re looking at], we will target 90 percent of those users and then observe over next 15 days how many of those we targeted, versus those we didn’t target, actually go to the quick-serve-restaurant [that sent out an ad]. You have a legitimate understanding of the lift it’s created. It doesn’t work for everything, but foot traffic attribution using mobile, TV, mail, and display is a new type of attribution that understands consumer behavior.”

In other words, incorporating location data learned from a consumer’s mobile device is the key to reading attribution in other advertising channels. Thanks to its partnerships with TV ratings firm Rentrak, media communications network Starcom MediaVest, and marketing technology firm Acxiom, PlaceIQ can also tell if, after a person was exposed to a TV ad in their home, they visited the store that was advertised in the following days.

“In a privacy-friendly way we can match the mobile devices that dwell in those households and [see whether] these mobile devices end up going to the store,” McCall said.

It’s not the sturdiest attribution method, especially if you consider the types of brands that have the dough to advertise on TV — many big retailers like Target are potentially being visited regardless of their ad.  But it’s a compelling start, and it’s where McCall sees the location data-focused industry heading at large, with PlaceIQ at the helm.

McCall also described himself as “bullish” on Out-Of-Home, a space where he says PlaceIQ will soon be making announcements, as its yet another channel that is becoming connected to mobile.

Somewhat surprisingly, McCall is also bullish on direct mail, a form of targeted advertising that has been widely considered to be on the verge of extinction.

“Direct mail has gone out of fashion, but ironically more people open spam mail because there’s less of it now that there was before,” McCall said. “The ability to target and measure and analyze direct mail the same as we do email and display will happen.”

And in the not too distant future, McCall thinks that using location as a basic targeting ingredient will continue to evolve as an essential marketing ingredient.

“In 2012, [location-based data] was massively nascent for us in terms of just people saying, ‘hey this sort of makes sense,'” said McCall. “2013 was a gigantic growth year, and in 2014 a whole bunch of other companies dove into the space — which was frustrating but made for a healthy ecosystem. 2015 [served as] the top of the hype cycle. Now its less of a standalone category, and more of a unified piece that connects everything together.”

Nicole Spector is a contributor to Street Fight.