Why Marketers Must Focus On Data ‘Far Beyond Location’ to Build a Sharper Picture Of Consumers

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With brands and marketers stepping up efforts to harness location as a powerful proxy for audience, there’s a growing realization that, when it comes to customer data, more is indeed better. But the best results come when companies can access a range of data from companies and providers that add new depth and dimension to their understanding of customers.

Tom Laband, the CEO of adsquare, recently spoke with Street Fight about the rise of mobile data, the positive impact on targeting and the company’s wider strategy to “go far beyond location” to provide intelligent mobile data for holistic and effective mobile campaigns.

On the heels of the news that Mastercard has teamed up with adsquare to make its purchase data available via your mobile data exchange, what can you share about the significance of this announcement and what it means for advertisers?
Effective advertising is about understanding all aspects of the consumer. This month’s  addition of Mastercard Advertising Insights to our growing list of branded data providers gives advertisers another important view into consumers: namely purchase information. The anonymized and aggregated audience segments are informed by activity of more than 24 million UK payment cards and include insights on shopper segments such as automotive, retail, CPG, restaurants, hotels and more. Combine this with other data on our platform, and advertisers are one big step closer to building a truly panoramic view of their customers.

But the addition of this data isn’t the only attraction — it’s the accuracy of how we use it. We purposely harness precise GPS data, rather than large ZIP code areas, which as we know from the online world are IP resolved and up to 50% off the mark entirely. Therefore, with our approach, advertisers can achieve a higher degree of granularity, and hone their audience targeting beyond ZIP code area level to the residence. This is where our platform plays a major role in connecting the dots in the data, and it does by processing more than 12 billion location signals in the U.K. monthly, filtering out  imprecise and fraudulent traffic and recognizing the patterns that allow it to build specific and accurate household segments. All this happens in an anonymized and privacy-friendly way — which is pretty much the DNA of a European company as you would expect.

As you point out, Mastercard is just the latest addition to a growing list of data partners and companies that bring customer insights depending on where they sit in the scheme of things. What data dimensions are available via your platform?
Data — from mobile, online and offline data providers — enables more precise targeting and segmentation. This is why our mobile data exchange offers advertisers and agencies access to a vast array of multidimensional data. Take our point-of-interest database, for example. Thanks to data from maps and navigation companies such as TomTom, we are able to offer precise location and POI data at scale. To understand the local context, not just location of consumers, we have also onboarded dynamic data around events, weather and even traffic to our platform.

Unlike most companies in this space we see that location can also be used as a proxy to onboard additional offline data, such as household and purchase data, our partnerships include companies with precisely these data assets including Acxiom, Experian and consumer research company GfK.

Finally, there is the place of data around behavior, which is why we partner with innovative companies such as VisualDNA, which offers a rich set of psychographic data, and adgnitio, which builds audiences based on app usage. All this combined allows marketers and companies to target people in the right ‘mobile moment’ and thus boost the relevance of their advertising at the top of the funnel and activities deeper in the funnel around engagement and retention. It’s about understanding every step of the customer journey, and each new data provider we bring onto our platform brings us a step closer to our goal of making all data accessible for marketing so marketers can look beyond location.

As you say, it’s about more data brought together to build a more panoramic picture of the customer. How can advertisers access your data exchange?
First, it’s important to understand that advertisers may want data, but they also demand flexibility in how they use it and maximum transparency. Our platform is mainly used by agencies and their trading desks — these are clearly programmatic pros who appreciate streamlined access to a wide range of data dimensions, sophisticated modeling tools and, of course, detailed reports about their campaigns including reach and cost forecast. It’s why we developed our self-service Audience Management Platform to literally put them in control and give them access to our data partners. After data buying and audience modeling, the agency or trading desk can choose to activate these customized segments on their prefered DSP.

adsquare CEO Tom Laband
adsquare CEO Tom Laband

We are deeply integrated with leading buying platforms including AppNexus, TheTradeDesk, Sizmek and Google’s DBM. This separation of media and data gives advertisers and their agencies more transparency, compared to managed service DSPs, which sell location-derived audiences overpriced in a package with media.

There is also significant value that can be extracted from second-party data. As an industry we’re on the cusp of a significant development potentially poised to improve advertising — and much more. In a recent opinion piece you called second-party data the “silver bullet for advertising relevance.” Can you elaborate?
Sure. As we know, second-party data is the first-party data of other companies drawn from their direct relationship with consumers. App developers, retailers and telcos — all these companies have a different view into the consumer based on where they sit in the journey. Holistic and effective advertising and marketing is about making this data available for campaign targeting as it adds new and exciting levels of granularity. But it’s not just a matter of unlocking this data, it’s about tackling the issues around data leakage and ownership that have made data owners so cautious when it comes to sharing their data. It’s a huge challenge for our industry — but it’s also a huge benefit if we can encourage it.

To start, and to open up these opportunities, our industry has to treat data misuse as a serious matter, and agree on respecting ownership and penalizing misuse. In addition to this mindset, we need to offer data owners the tools that will allow them to share their data without loosing control and transparency. A great example of how this can function — and benefit us all — is the private marketplaces we know from media buying which allow publishers to share their premium inventory with full control. A secure and trusted environment is clearly the key to unlocking this value for premium inventory, and the same applies as we look for ways to unleash the real potential for first-party data in mobile.

It’s interesting that you call out players such as app companies that are not among “the usual suspects” when we think of data marketers can and should leverage in their campaigns. How can this data enhance the advertising experience?
Clearly, what we do on our apps says a lot about who we are as individuals. If we consider that 90% of time spent on smartphones is spent in apps, then it’s obvious that finding a way to add app usage data to the bigger equation will allow marketers to get closer to their customers in ways that go far beyond proximity. It will allow companies to connect with consumers based on their passions, preferences and pastimes — all of which are enjoyed and expressed on mobile apps.

Peggy Anne SalzPeggy Anne Salz is the chief analyst and founder of MobileGroove, a research and consulting firm providing analysis, custom research, and strategic content marketing to the global mobile industry, and mentoring and consulting to tech startups.