30
Jan
2018

The 4 Most Common Questions About Location Data, Answered

01/30/2018

In the marketing world, things change a lot — constantly, in fact, which sometimes makes it hard to keep up. This is especially true of location data, which has become an essential part of any successful mobile advertising strategy. But like any new kid on the block, there’s an air of uncertainty surrounding the emerging use of location-based targeting — most of which can be attributed to its novelty.

That’s where we come in. Here are some of the most common questions we get about location data, and a deeper dive into why it’s become such an essential marketing tool.

Where does location data come from?

Before we go too deep, it’s important to note that there are many forms of location data, the most common of which, and the kind we use, is GPS (Global Positioning System). The reason GPS is so well-known and widely used is because it’s the most accurate form of location data out there, and Simpli.fi only uses data that’s been confirmed by at least three GPS satellites in orbit — because confirming with one or two satellites just isn’t enough.

We gather GPS coordinates from two different sources, both of which meet the above criteria for precision. The first and primary source is what’s known as bid stream data — i.e., data from the approximately 240 billion daily bid requests we collect via the top programmatic exchanges. After some filtering and scrubbing to ensure validity and accuracy (more on that in a minute), this yields over 3 billion lat/long requests and somewhere in the ballpark of 500 million unique lat/long coordinates each day.

The second source, a growing number of high-quality third-party vendors, draws from a pool of millions of mobile devices across the U.S. — a number that will only continue to grow as we onboard other third-party data partners. Simpli.fi gathers third-party data from hundreds of popular mobile apps, doubling the amount of viable lat/long information available to us and forming a powerful tandem with bid stream data.

Our foundation as a technology company allows us to collect, process, filter, and store this vast amount of data, and because we have access to both pools, our user base isn’t restricted to those who use specific apps — allowing us to reach any user across any app that serves display ads on mobile devices.

How accurate is location data?

There’s a reason for all that filtering and scrubbing we talked about: to weed out any fraud, bots, or data that our platform deems to be faulty or low-quality. Our quality standards for GPS data are exacting, and we’re confident that the data we employ is as precise as you can get; through our rigorous Data Science methods of cleaning and filtering, we’re able to ensure that the right users are targeted and conversion tracking is as on-the-dot (literally) as possible.

Whether it comes from the bid stream or a third party, the location accuracy of today’s cell phones are, in general, accurate down to around 4.9 meters. But after our platform scrubs and analyzes the information, that accuracy could tighten down to a matter of mere inches, if the device is capable. Of course, with all GPS technology, there can be an occasional hindrance that could potentially impact accuracy — things like satellite blockage from bridges or skyscrapers, indoor or underground use, signals reflecting off buildings or walls, and the age of the mobile device being used. But our capabilities are as effective and accurate as the phone allows, and as cellular technology becomes more advanced and GPS infrastructure continues to expand, accuracy will continue to improve as well.

And if you were wondering whether Simpli.fi’s innovative use of unstructured data would come into play, the answer is an emphatic yes. Every so often, a mobile app will cache its location to save battery life, but since we’re able to target users with recency (an unstructured data point), our platform is able to retain the individual timestamp associated with each and every GPS data point. When it comes to location data, no other platform offers this same degree of accuracy and flexibility.

But wait, there’s more! Many publishers use something called header bidding — a new way to offer inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously — as a way to ramp up the bidding process. With more exchanges involved, we’re able to refine the accuracy of the location data by comparing GPS coordinates from each exchange and filter out any faulty or inaccurate information.

Why is location data important for marketers?

Whew, where to begin? For starters, it’s a highly targeted way to reach the right consumer at the right time through the ubiquitous use of mobile data and location services. But if you need more reason than that, there are several. Access to actual location data can:

How do you measure location data as part of a mobile strategy?

The ability to measure a mobile campaign’s effectiveness, with precision, has long been an elusive but so-close-you-can-taste-it slice of conversion pie. And with the rise of projection-based panel methodologies, which make broad assumptions about 99% of users and therefore are not a viable solution for localized advertising, the industry was ripe for a reliable tool to measure online-to-offline conversions — and Simpli.fi delivered.

Through our unique use of unstructured data — recency, in particular — the Simpli.fi platform is able to determine when a user visits a specific Geo-Fence and target them with an ad right away or up to 30 days later. Conversion Zones, as we call them, are virtual boundaries drawn around an advertiser’s brick-and-mortar location, employed to track consumers who previously had visited a specific location, saw an ad, and then visited the business. This is good, hard data and evidence of a campaign’s effectiveness at the most granular level, so we record these incremental increases in foot traffic and package them into a metric called Geo-Conversion Lift. We think it’s pretty cool.

So, as you can see, the advantages to using location-based technology aren’t just numerous — they’re virtually boundless. For an in-depth glimpse into how we use it or answers to any other questions you might have, feel free to reach out to us at hi@simpli.fi.