3 questions to ask your location targeting provider

geometric graphic with text overlay “3 questions to ask your location targeting provider”

While not a new concept, audience location data has come under the spotlight over the last two years, largely as marketers begin to adopt its technology, and partly as the scale and capabilities of the tools increase.

We've pinpointed three of the most critical questions to ask your location targeting vendor to assure you're getting the best quality data for your investment.

1. Is it Location Targeting, or Geo-Fencing?

While the semantics can be argued for days, it's important to note the distinction between location targeting and geo-fencing.

Location Targeting is an audience-building tool that maps a mobile device's historical points of location, and develops a comprehensive picture of the person behind the device. By knowing where the device has been, and the places it visits frequently, we gain a more clear understanding of who the user is and what they want.

Brands use this 3rd party data to reach their competitor's audience, their own brand loyalists, business travelers, and other custom audience segments with tailored messaging.

Geo-fencing uses the devices current GPS coordinates (while the user is on a GPS-enabled app such as maps, weather, transit, or social and dating apps) to serve an ad to the user while the device falls within set GPS coordinates. Simply put, they see an ad when they fall within proximity to a set point.

Brands use this 1st party app data to capture a user's attention when they're near a store, restaurant, other location of interest.

There's a place for both Location targeting and Geo-fencing on each brand's mobile plan, but it's important to know their different purposes and how they function.

2. Can I control my lookback window?

If your location targeting partner only allows for one set lookback window on an audience's location history, that's a red flag.

Not all brands can use the same lookback window. Data integrity is actually compromised when you don't set the lookback to align with the brand's objectives and audience.

Example 1:

John's Ford's target audience of In-Market Ford Enthusiasts has been seen at a Ford dealership in the last 60 days. Knowing that their audience typically makes a purchasing decision or purchase in that timeframe or else fall out of the sales funnel, it would be foolish to set a 6-month lookback window.

Example 2:

Karen's Auto Service's target is purchasers of used cars within the last 6 months. By segmenting an audience that was seen at several used car dealerships within the last 6 months but not in the last month, the team knows they are reaching shoppers who purchased a used car in the right time frame, and can now send coupons and service specials to that device.

They key is understanding your objectives and audience, and their real world behavior - to pinpoint the optimal look-back window.

3. How is the data verified?

It's not enough to merely look at a device's location history. Other factors come into play:

  1. Was the device moving, and at what speed? If the device was registered at a McDonalds but the user was only driving by, that information's not very useful to a marketer.

  2. What is the accuracy? Mobile phones pass an estimated accuracy, but is it taken into account?

  3. How often was the device seen at a location? An average visit of 4+ a week likely indicates that the user is an employee at this location, and not merely a brand enthusiast. Are those users being scrubbed out?