Mobile Advertising:  Understanding Location Targeting Capabilities and Data Sources

19-Mobile Advertising Understanding Location Targeting Capabilities and Data SourcesTargeting audiences via mobile devices continues to be a challenge for advertisers. While more individuals are consuming more content via smartphones, many of the targeting tactics that have worked for desktop ads aren't available or practical for mobile advertising.  Considering the growing availability of mobile location data as a viable targeting tool, the time is right to ensure your organization's approach to location targeting is sound.

Marketers face a pretty steep learning curve with mobile location data and there are some important factors to consider as you decide how location data fits into your mobile advertising strategy.

A Big Opportunity for Powerful Brand Connections

Mobile location targeting is not only for businesses with physical retail locations. The absence of cookie data from most mobile devices means that much of the cookie-based user behavior data is absent on mobile devices.  In some cases, accurate mobile location data can provide a proxy for some of this user behavior.  Mobile location data creates a trail of digital breadcrumbs allowing advertisers to target their ads with this data in a number of ways: 

  • Current location – also known as a geofence, this type of location targeting is the oldest and most basic. It allows you to target individuals based on their proximity to specified location at the time the ad is served.
  • Location visitation history - some location targeting platforms store location history at a device ID level, allowing targeting based on both proximity to a location along with frequency of visits to the location.  Because the data is stored, the opportunity is also there to connect with users even after their visit.
  • Location-based profiles – Using data from visitation to multiple different locations across a period of time enables the development of more nuanced profiles.  For example, an individual who is at the local elementary school every weekday morning and afternoon, who also visits the grocery store weekly, goes to the gym 4 times per week, and visits the local dry cleaner occasionally, may be a good profile if you're looking to connect with someone in charge of making household decisions.
  • Location Interaction (including dwell time) – This allows advertisers to see how long an individual is at a location and could help distinguish shoppers versus drive-by's  and employees versus shoppers.
  • Engagement within a location - More and more physical buildings and locations are adding technology to their space to track visitor interaction with the in-building environment. This allows for even finer granularity than a standard visitation measurement, providing deeper insights into where specifically someone went within a location.
  • Layering location and third party data - Adding third party data on top of location data helps to further qualify your targeting to ensure that the individuals you reach are more likely to be valuable to your organization.

When sourced properly, location data can be a very powerful tool for connecting with valuable audiences on their mobile devices.  

Not all Location Data is Equal

Unfortunately, the increase in mobile location data availability does not mean that every lat/long data point available to advertisers, is equally accurate or precise. Lat/Long data comes from:

Dynamic sources-

  • GPS - location provided by a smartphone application using the devices gps to provide coordinates. This is the gold standard for location data and is accurate down to 5 meters and has decent scale.
  • In-Store Beacons- location is provided by smartphone applications and a devices proximity to a bluetooth sensor within a location. Issues of scale are the limiting factor for beacon-based targeting. While the potential is there for greater accuracy and precision than GPS, this data require the beacon hardware to be installed in a physical location and the smartphone to have bluetooth turned on.
  • WiFi - location is provided based on interaction with a location enabled wireless router.  Accuracy is dependent on the range of the router but usually within 20 meters.
  • Cell Tower Triangulation - location is provided based on the a devices location relative to a group of cell towers.  Widely varies depending on cell tower positions and is only accurate to around 150 meters.

Static sources-

  • IP Address - This is  based on the IP address of application's servers and is not relevant to the locations of the app's users.
  • Registration Data - This is sourced from registration information when an individual signs up for an app or service and is not relevant for advertisers trying to target based on an individuals current location.

When exploring potential partnerships it is important to verify that a advertising platform uses only dynamic location data sources and to confirm what percentage of the ads they serve use GPS data for the targeting.  

How is Location Important to my Organization?

Just like other available technologies, how you decide to use mobile location information for a specific initiative will be up to you.   As campaigns are being planned, get in the habit of asking how location data can help drive success for the organization.

Hopefully this information is helpful as you explore mobile location targeting.  If you have specific questions or would like to discuss this topic further please feel free to chat with us or contact us anytime!

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