#SFSW18: Closing the Location Attribution Loop

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Left to right, Andy Ellwood, CEO, Basket; Cameron Peebles, CMO, InMarket, speak on the “Closing the Location Attribution Loop” panel at Street Fight Summit West, the premier annual event for hyperlocal content, commerce, marketing, and technology professionals. Held at Vibiana in Los Angeles, California, January 31, 2018.

Marketing technology companies and agencies abound, but with recent advances in location technology, the only advertising and marketing solutions to which brands will turn in the future are those that can prove their solutions actually work. 

Enter Asif Khan, president of the Location-Based Marketing Association, who sat down Wednesday morning at Street Fight Summit West in Los Angeles with executives from Foursquare, InMarket, and Basket to talk the latest in location tech and attribution.

Of course, while location data points are accumulating at a fast clip as consumers walk into stores with location-enabled smartphones in hand, not all location data is created equal. 72% of marketers want to use location data, but only 63% of them believe the data available to them is of a good quality, Khan said. 

The good news, said Andy Ellwood, founder and president of Basket, is that much has changed since the days when early location companies like Foursquare and Gowalla, where Ellwood used to spearhead business development, were founded. “We went head-to-head like Biggie and Tupac,” Ellwood said. 

Today, the competition is just as fierce, but location-based businesses have access to reams of data provided by customers who are widely comfortable sharing their locations. 

The bad news is that some data is fraudulent, and other data is put to bad use by businesses that do not know how to apply it to the right use cases, said Jared Hand, head of attribution at Foursquare.

“As long as you’re applying good data and the right data to the right use cases, you can have great results,” Hand said. On the other hand, the right data in the wrong hands goes to waste. 

Cameron Peebles, CMO of InMarket, joined Hand and Ellwood in emphasizing that data should not just be used for attribution — to prove past ad placements have worked — but also to predict future consumer patterns and increase long-term marketing success. 

“Consumers don’t live their lives in points; they live their lives in patterns,” Peebles said. There is “a continuous loop … in what attribution means” that expands beyond an assessment of an individual campaign.

Khan concurred. Location-based advertising is a three-layer cake that involves generating traffic, improving customer service and engagement, and feeding data back into long-term marketing practices such as POS and loyalty systems, he said. 

There are two sides to advertising’s benefits, Hand said. One is affecting customers and pushing them into stores. The other, missed by many, is using the location data tied to advertising campaigns in order to understand “the whole of consumers’ behaviors overtime.” If marketers deploy location data to develop an understanding of their customers’ lifestyles, interests, and socioeconomic attributes, they can reshape their businesses and even plan future locations based on what their existing customer bases are seeking.

InMarket gave loyalty scores to retailers of different sizes and determined that loyalty is one of the biggest predictors for retail health, Peebles said. Location data indicating that customers fail to return to stores they’ve visited has foretold the recent downfalls of certain companies, such as Toys R Us.

Unfortunately for new companies looking to get into the location tech and attribution business, the key to existing players’ success is first-party data accumulated over years, Hand said.

“We’ve got a mountain of first-party data,” which marketers want to onboard into their targeting efforts, Hand said of Foursquare. “From a measurement perspective, it’s all about capturing that data.”

Joe Zappa is Street Fight’s news editor. Photography by Shana Wittenwyler.

Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015. You can contact him at [email protected]