As the location data and marketing industries experience heightened calls for privacy and quality control, location data verification solution Location Sciences is expanding to the Americas. The London-based firm also announced on Tuesday morning its appointment of digital marketing veteran Warren Zenna to take the helm on this side of the Atlantic.
Nate Sterken: Location data generated from cell phones powers many of the ad-tech products with which we all work every day, from in-person attribution to targeting segments based on visitation patterns. Earlier this year, I got to work with data generated from a completely different source — professional football players.
Foursquare announced on Friday, coinciding with the ten-year anniversary of its launch at SXSW, a new feature called Hypertrending that shows users the most popular places where people are meeting up around them.
Jake Moskowitz, head of the Emodo Institute, debunks some myths about location data. Here’s the first shocking one: Location data can’t find you 60 million devices that visited a Hyundai dealership within the last month or two… or three, because that’s impossible. Throughout all of 2017, across the entire US, there were only about 17 million cars sold in total. That includes Hyundai, Honda, Ford—indeed, all brands. In data stores, users run across super-sized segments all the time. It’s not uncommon for vendors to claim that their single-brand auto dealership visitor segments include tens of millions of consumers. Location data is powerful, but it can’t make up shoppers.
“Location data offers the ability to turn universal ads into local ads. Same as local TV. The issue is how location targeting is being executed,” says location-based ad veteran Warren Zenna. “People don’t look at ads on their phones when they are out doing things like shopping and driving around. They look at them, sometimes, when they are inactive. Mobile ad creative needs to be better — more engaging and more contextual — and presented when someone is in a contextually relevant mindset.”
Dan Silver: Why should small businesses be limited to one great day of sales a year? Now more than ever, owners have an arsenal of tools at their disposal to help them drive more visits and generate revenue. Here are a few sustainable solutions for local businesses.
Not only did Facebook’s “Research” app, which paid 13- to 35-year-old users $20/month to access their search history, emails, and private messages, set off every imaginable alarm on the this-will-look-bad-when-the-exposé-comes-out PR radar (one of the world’s most powerful corporations must be lacking one of those), but the app also blatantly violated the terms of Apple’s Enterprise Developer Program, which proscribes distributing apps to consumers. It probably didn’t help that Facebook was searching tweens’ data for dirt on its competitors.
Making a big splash in privacy, the ongoing story that has dominated location data-based marketing buzz in 2019, DuckDuckGo, the search engine that does not store user data in order to sell pricey ads, announced that it is using Apple’s MapKit JS to power searches. While the search engine’s results are sought out by far fewer users than search industry leader Google’s, the growth DuckDuckGo is experiencing further validates the impression the tech media has practically been screaming about this year: The winds on privacy are definitively changing, and data-driven companies that fail to heed those changes are in for quite a storm.
Having pivoted from a location-centric social app of sorts to a location intelligence platform, Foursquare has positioned itself well to offer brands attributable marketing success and verified data points at a time when concerns about both data quality and privacy are as widespread as ever. Foursquare says it throws out about 80% of the third-party data it consumes, an act intended to preserve the quality of its largely first-party data store.
AT&T announced late last week that it will stop selling location data, following an investigation from multimedia publication Motherboard indicating that a bounty hunter (yes, bounty hunter) equipped with a few hundred bucks and a phone number can track down the phone’s owner within a couple blocks’ radius. Verizon and T-Mobile joined AT&T in saying they would soon wind down any remaining location-data sharing deals.
While the Gap says its decisions are being made based on traffic trends and profits—the brand saw a 7% decline in quarterly comparable sales—data scientists from top technology firms are working feverishly behind the scenes to use big data to predict which store closures could come next. Having a heads up on which retail locations have a high likelihood of closing could benefit those in the commercial real estate sector, as well as retail brands looking to decide on future store locations.
The move is representative of changing winds on attitudes toward privacy in the location data ecosystem. Following a series of New York Times Facebook and location data exposés and explainers, and with America’s own GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, slated to go into effect on January 1, 2019, companies are waking up to a new reality in which selling and sharing user data to the tune of billions of dollars in revenue with little oversight is over.
While visual search isn’t exactly catching on like fire yet, its evolution is buttressed by powerful developments of late in the tech industry. Among these: smartphones are increasingly ubiquitous, more efficient, and we’re all more accustomed to using them; investment in AI from both big companies and startups is widespread, making machine vision more effective; and augmented reality (AR), a similar modality in which tech overlays graphics onto images captured via camera lens, is taking off. Below are a few ways visual search will play out in local and retail in 2019.
Jake Moskowitz: In media, transparency demands accountability. In other words, it means asking media suppliers to “prove it.” It means expecting suppliers to “show me the viewability and fraud percentages, and allow me to suppress ads from running next to unsafe content.” Today, when it pertains to data, transparency just means “tell me where the data came from”—that’s it. That is not enough.
Greg Isbister: The next year will see a marked shift for location data. As consumers and businesses alike see more value and additional uses for this data, industry growth will continue to increase exponentially. Until regulations are put in place to increase security and transparency, it will be up to businesses to institute their own best practices, getting ahead of legislation to come.
What exactly did Facebook do wrong, and what do its supposed wrongs portend for the future of data-driven, and especially location data-driven, marketing? Here are some major takeaways pertaining to future legislation, likely consumer reactions, and the distinction between data selling and sharing.
Though their terms are not identical, in essence both GDPR and CCPA are designed to give consumers the power to stop companies from collecting personal data, to review all personal data a company may have collected, and to request deletion of any stored data. Both regulations strike a major blow in favor of the concept that ownership of personal data ultimately resides with the individual and not with companies who may profit from it.
Beacons have grown into a nuanced component of successful mobile marketing. We’ve learned what they do best—strengthen advertiser approaches to metrics and measurement as well as the relevance and contextual richness of on-the-ground, in- or near-store experiences—and we’ve figured out that while push notifications can be a part of the story, they aren’t the main narrative.
Platforms, brands, and vendors benefiting from the reams of location data used to hit consumers with highly targeted ads should be paying attention to a change suggested by Google and Facebook’s appearances before government authorities, a New York Times exposé out Monday, and most importantly the impending arrival of GDPR-like legislation in the United States: 2019 will be the year privacy actually matters, posing a potentially devastating threat to the status quo of the location-based data and marketing industries.
You need proven industry benchmarks if you want to set realistic goals and expectations for location data-driven marketing. Going forward, these norms can help you form and answer key questions about location data-based tactics, so you can make more informed data decisions.