The proliferation of smartphones and IoT-enabled devices has resulted in a data explosion — a treasure trove for marketers looking to better understand and find their target audience and more accurately measure their marketing efforts.
Geospatial data — the dataset that tells you exactly where a person or thing is at a particular time — is the advertising commodity catching everyone’s eye. In fact, more than 84% of marketers use location data in their marketing plans, and 94% plan to in the future, according to a recent study. The same research found that nine out of 10 marketers believe location-based marketing results in higher sales.
But, location data isn’t just valuable and popular — it is also changing. Nearly every aspect of the space is evolving, from the types of technology used to collect and interpret the data, to the legislation that informs the way things can be done. If marketers want to capitalize on location data’s potential, they need to understand these changes.
Location data volume is set to grow
The more data you have, the more efficiently and effectively you can target your audience and measure campaign results. Brands segment their customers based on various factors, including demographics, preferences and behaviors. Coupling this information with location data enhances results and unlocks new use cases.
For example, you can offer users personalized product or service recommendations based on their traffic patterns, or update ad creative to reflect their real-time whereabouts to drive immediate action. Advertisers also use geospatial data to power sophisticated measurement strategies, such as measuring the effect digital, CTV or out-of-home (OOH) advertising has on foot traffic.
Location data volume will only grow as the number of IoT-enabled devices — such as wearables, home security solutions, cameras, medical devices, voice-activated assistants and connected vehicle-related devices and infrastructure — increases.
This year, experts estimate the installation of 35 billion IoT devices worldwide. By 2025, this figure is expected to hit 75 billion. But whether marketers can access and benefit from that data depends on a few factors. The plethora of information is useless if you don’t have tools for collecting location data and analyzing it.
Contending with data protection regulations and policies
Marketers need technologies, strategies and partnerships that enable them to leverage location data to improve targeting and measurement, while reflecting ever-evolving data privacy policies. Legislations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act promote industry transparency and give consumers more control over their personal data.
Likewise, Google and Apple have taken steps to give mobile users more control over how their location data is used. In the past, the bulk of background location data was available to apps and to advertisers. Now, many users are opting not to share data with apps when they are not in use.
Apple’s September 2019 update included pop-ups that remind users when apps are leveraging their location data and prompt them to choose between sharing data one time, sharing only when the app is running or sharing all the time. Less than 50% of users opt to share data constantly, according to some ad tech sources. Google also reports that less than half of Android users opt to share data with an app that is not in use.
Google plans to put policies in place for restricting location data sharing only to apps that use the data to enhance the user experience or deliver some sort of clear value. On the Android Developers Blog, Google says it will be “updating Google Play policy to require that developers get approval if they want to access location data in the background” later this year.
These changes will likely decrease the supply of high-quality location data, but not the demand. As marketers work to leverage location data to improve their advertising, they should ask questions of themselves, their location data providers and their ad tech partners, such as:
- What is the source of this location data? How was the location information acquired?
- What tools do you use to ingest and organize location data? How do you translate location data into something of meaning?
- How do you measure the performance of your location-based advertising? How do you balance accuracy with compliance and privacy concerns?
Advertiser interest in location-based marketing strategies and measurement will continue to grow, as will the volume of geospatial data. But the space is becoming increasingly nuanced and regulated. To benefit from location data, brands will need advanced tools, strategies and partners, and an understanding of the evolving location data landscape.
Jared Morante is the director of engineering at Wrapify Inc., where he leads the software engineering team in developing Wrapify’s software infrastructure, as well as the client and internal dashboards and mobile software for Wrapify drivers. Jared has been nominated for the San Diego Top Tech awards on two occasions for outstanding technology leadership and, outside of his job, has worked in various industries in the San Diego tech scene, including working in the defense industry and IEEE standards for IoT device communication.