Using Mobile Location Data to Target World Series Fans

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Major advertisers paid upwards of $500,000 for each 30-second TV spot during the World Series this year, but using real-time mobile location data, savvy brand marketers could have reached targeted groups of consumers for much less.

Using GPS data to track the physical movements of its panel of opted-in users, the location analytics firm Arrivalist found that fans who attended games at Dodger Stadium during the World Series were more likely to be local than fans who attended games at Houston’s Minute Made Park.

Forty-four percent of fans at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles were from fewer than 50 miles away and 26% were from more than 100 miles away. In Houston, just 16% of fans were from fewer than 50 miles away, while 39% were from more than 100 miles away.

This type of location data could be extremely useful for brand advertisers as they build targeted campaigns, not just around this year’s World Series, but around other major sporting events, as well.

According to Arrivalist CEO Cree Lawson, fans in Houston were better targets for advertising focused on hotels, dining, and travel directions this year because they were more likely to be from out of town. On the flip side, Arrivalist’s data indicated that because Dodgers fans are more likely to live nearby, they would be better targets for retailers and other local brands.

“We’re finding new use cases for this data set almost weekly,” Lawson says.

Arrivalist’s analysis also found that the percentage of “opposing city visitors”—that is, Houston fans attending games in Los Angeles, or visa versa—was very low. Just 2.5% of attendees at Dodger Stadium were from Texas during the first game of the series, and an even smaller percentage of attendees (1.8%) in Houston were actually from California.

To collect its data, Arrivalist relies on a panel of 120 million mobile app users who have consented to sharing annonymized location data.

“Location attribution, or measuring the way media influences people to visit places, is the primary use case for Arrivalist’s 120+ clients,” Lawson says. “In the case of the World Series data, Arrivalist simply looked at the movements of it’s panelists devices from their area of residence to the ballparks on game days, regardless of whether those panelists had been exposed to media or not.”

Unlike some competing location analytics firms, Arrivalist does not use proxy data. Lawson explains that because his company’s location data comes from mobile phone movements, it’s often more accurate, more representative, and quicker to process than alternatives like survey data, spending data, or ticket sales information.

“Survey data and credit card spending data can take longer or be less representative than location data because almost everyone brings their mobile phone to the park, whether they pay cash while they’re there or use a certain credit card or not,” he says.

While some brand advertisers might be tempted to use the consumer analytics collected during the ticket sales process for targeting, Lawson cautions against the practice. The ubiquity of online ticket exchanges like StubHub have made it so that tickets may change hands multiple times, so the original purchasing data is not representative of actual visitation.

Although Arrivalist is still a relative newcomer in the location analytics field, the firm has been able to carve out a niche within the industry thanks to a lengthy client roster that includes many organizations focused on the travel and tourism industry. Lawson says his clients are finding new ways to utilize location data on an almost weekly basis. In one recent case, a client was able to gauge the popularity of a certain attraction by looking at the duration of stay. The client also analyzed cross-visitation patterns between two points of interest, like an airport and a convention center

“We’re also able to help advertisers build aggregate visitation profiles based on the locations that certain segments of visitors are more, or less, likely to visit,” Lawson says.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.