Catalina Brings In Ex-Kraft Exec Tom Corley To Head Retail Analytics

Shopper analytics provider Catalina has appointed Tom Corley as Global Chief Retail Officer and President of U.S. Retail.

Corley, who has held executives posts at Kraft Foods Group and CPG sales consultancy Acosta, will lead Catalina’s U.S. retail business and provide additional leadership to Catalina’s retail clients in Europe and Japan.

“We are excited to welcome Tom to our leadership team,” said Andy Heyman, CEO of Catalina. “Catalina is focused on expanding our capabilities and value proposition to help retailers efficiently grow and meet the opportunities of a fast-changing marketplace. Tom brings a fresh perspective to those efforts and a deep understanding of how to drive win-win relationships between CPG manufacturers and retailers given his extensive experience working with both parts of our network.”

Catalina has struck a number of high-profile partnerships with location data providers like PlaceIQ and has been tapped by Pinterest to expand its insights into CPG purchasing decisions.

By its nature, CPG brands have tended to rely on retailers to manage point-of-sale and marketing campaigns at the store level. Over the past three years, CPG brands have been aggressively exploring new ways to reach connected consumers directly, typically via app-based offers to drive store visits. But the ability to capture attribution data — did this mobile ad lead to an actual sale — has required layers of proof.

And that’s the challenge Catalina faces in a crowded analytics landscape where so many companies are promising to deliver the facts on in-store attribution. Finding the right allies and helping demonstrate Catalina’s positing in the retail space is what Corley is charged with.

He’s got a lot to work with already, as Catalina boasts of its partnerships with retailers encompass more than 27,000 stores in the United States and 53,000 globally, reaching more than 528 million shoppers with personalized digital and in-store marketing solutions that drive trial, loyalty and sales volume for retailers and CPG brands. Catalina’s advanced shopper analytics and team of 150 data scientists deliver powerful, actionable insights that improve marketing performance and efficiency.

“Catalina is creating exciting new opportunities for retailers to connect with shoppers to build loyalty and engagement,” said Todd Morris, Catalina Global Go-to-Market President. “Tom is the right person to drive those innovations forward and build even deeper partnerships with our retailers.”

“I am excited about the value Catalina delivers to its partners and in the investments it continues to make in advancing its technology to drive shopper intelligence for retailers,” said Corley. “Catalina has an unparalleled opportunity to be a catalyst for retailers as they work to more effectively engage shoppers, including the 97 percent of households that shop at brick and mortar stores every week.”

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Does Location-Based Advertising Have A Viewability Problem?

Location-targeted mobile ad sales are expected to rise from $9.8 billion in 2015 to $29.5 billion by the end of 2019 — but with that rising demand comes greater expectations about ROI, attribution, and accuracy.

The issue of geo-data accuracy has always been a thorn within the great promise of location-based advertising to bridge online and offline, desktop and mobile (and we first outlined the problem here back in 2014).

Placed, which was acquired by Snap this summer to provide attribution services for Snapchat ad clients,  is the latest geo-data specialist to offer guidance on the matter of location analytics accuracy in a report, Accuracy & Bias In Ad Exchange-Derived Location Data.

The analysis for the report is gleaned from the company’s primary product, Placed Attribution, which is based on an audience of over 150 million device generated over 140 billion latitudes and longitudes on a monthly basis.

Thanks to its extensive alliances with dozens publishers, networks, and demand side platforms, including ncluding IPG MediabrandsDigitasLBiHorizon MediaTapadDataXuDrawbridge, among others, Placed’s data sources have grown to include first and third party data as well.

As Placed CEO David Shim describes it, location ad accuracy is a viewability problem.

  • Average location accuracy was 4 New York City blocks
  • Only 1 percent of locations were accurate enough to identify a store visit
  • 80 percent of bid requests with location occur when they are in-between visits, with a good portion of the visit based impressions occurring at home

“With location accuracy not in the forefront of the viewability conversation, bad players have been able to capitalize,” Shim said. “Placed’s recent research and findings arm advertisers with an understanding of the location landscape that has been missing to date, independent of media.”

The Viewability Issue

In the larger ad tech sense, viewability has been a considerable cause of mistrust between buyers (brand and agencies) and publishers. In essence, viewability refers to whether a display ad placement was seen by an actual person or if it fraudulent ad impressions were generated by the “visits” of bots.

“In the near future, marketers will require a viewability-like metric to gauge the accuracy of location used for media, targeting, attribution and analytics,” said Benjamin Bring, VP, Mobile Media Director at Ansible, in the Placed report. “To date, the siren’s song around the potential of location has been able to drive the early adoption, but scale won’t come until the industry delivers a standard verification solution.”

“Viewability in location is directly aligned with accuracy,” Shim told GeoMarketing. “In an ecosystem today, where anyone can claim any location, it is important to not take location at face value, and continually verify the source of the location.”

‘Not All Geo-Data Is Created Equal’

Among the most difficult issues for marketers who want to use location data comes down to the sourcing of that information. Those sources, or signals, can come from a variety of channels, including GPS/satellite, wifi, computer IP-addresses, cell phone towers when it comes to pinpointing the specific lat/long the device accessed. Panel-based check-in services  like Placed’s— the location-based ad equivalent of a Nielsen diary that contains what a viewer watched on TV — are another popular avenue for accessing location data.

As programmatic advertising has become mainstream, the general purpose for for location advertising is two-fold: there’s the desire to provide real-time ad targeting as well as developing a greater understanding of consumers according to the places they go that provides more actionable insights than mere demographics (age, gender, household income, etc…) can offer.

Placed also leverages a proprietary behaviorally-derived measure of store location that it calls ‘Survey Geometry.’ Similar to the store geometries that measure the outline of the building or parcel (i.e., car lot).

One of the problems with a source like bidstream data is that its not a persistent signal like wifi or GPS. Bidstream data often depends on a person opening an ad on their phone while they’re in a specific place. The publisher whose ad is opened in that moment receives the data and passes it on to the network or vendor that placed the ad. If that person who saw the placement then goes to a store that was advertised, that visit counts as being “attributed.”

Of course, a phone’s location services records signals from hundreds of places in a given day. The odds of the information being attributed coincidentally (i.e., incorrectly) is a challenge that comes with real-time data platforms.

Quality bidstream location data, like those coming directly from publishers, is generated from the mobile device native location-based services, which use a combination of GPS, wifi, and other signals. That data is then pulled by the app developer via the phone’s SDKs. The process is the same whether the app sends location data via the exchange (bidstream) or direct. Regardless of a location data’s origin, bidstream or direct from publishers, it’s important to filter data and curate sources as well as recognize and filter low-precision signals.

“Not all data is created equal,” said Joao Machado, director of Mobile at OMD, in the Placed report. “You have to be very diligent in determining the accuracy of location data coming off the exchanges.

“Quality beats scale all day long and 1st party data is the gold standard in quality of location data,”Machado added. “A horoscope app dumping location data into an SSP before landing in the exchanges is the example of what leads all of us to scratch our heads around lack of value around so much of what goes on in the market.”

As we noted above, the average location accuracy Placed found was within four blocks — and only 1 percent were able to identify a store visit. That all sounds pretty dismal and much less reliable than the image a user has when looking at their own location on a map and seeing the accuracy within 3- to 20 feet on average, according to industry sources we’ve spoken to.

While it’s a given that location accuracy is, all over the map (pardon the pun), is this a matter of the difference of location signal sources, such as GPS versus cell towers versus wifi versus bidstream data?

“It’s a combination of factors,” Shim said. “When measuring directly from the device, location signal can vary based on a number factors include environment.  This said, the primary source of location inaccuracy is bad players on the exchange that treat cell tower location the same as GPS, map IP address to latitude and longitude, or commit outright fraud by applying a latitude and longitude to a non-location based impression.”

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4INFO’s Business Model Shift Reflects Mobile Attribution’s Central Marketing Role

4INFO is continuing its evolution as a location-based analytics ad platform to encompass more customer relationship management tools as personalization and individual targeting is changing the demands of brands, agencies, and publishers.

The bottom line is that programmatic advertising and marketing has made the series of inter-connections among platform companies more intrinsic to advertising that crosses desktop to mobile and online-to-offline. As such, the San Mateo, CA.-based analytics provider is making its data onboarding solution generally available to give its clients and their own partners greater ability to seamlessly target and attribute advertising programs.

Mobile At The Center

The program is built on the company’s customer identity and engagement platform and is focused on how mobile is at the center of shoppers’ media consumption, as people spend nearly three-quarters of all digital minutes on their portable devices.

“We’re quickly seeing traction in the market since introducing our onboarding solution because our expertise in mobile is helping customers achieve higher match rates with the scale and accuracy they need to monetize data and maximize revenue,” said Mari Tangredi, general manager of 4INFO’s Identity Platform.

The main promise of 4INFO’s opening of its onboarding solution is that it will capture the shifts in mobile ad budgets. The company notes that mobile ad spending is expected to more than double desktop display, even as most identity and data onboarding solutions on the market today are rooted in desktop as a starting point for mapping people and data to devices.

“4INFO was born in mobile. More than four years ago, we solved the biggest challenge of connecting people and data to mobile devices helping marketers precisely target national mobile ad campaigns with our patented methodology,” Tangredi said. “With our onboarding rollout, we’re expanding access to this proven approach for marketers’ use across platforms and publishers.”

Matchmaking

4INFO CEO Tim Jenkins is also making the case that partners include Kantar Worldpanel Shopcom, DataStream Group, and StatSocial have seen 3x- to 6x higher match rates.

“One of the big drivers in opening up our solution was that we had brands, advertisers come to us and say, ‘Hey, we’ve worked with you for years on a media side of the business, but we see so much marketing potential to your data and being able to work with you in a more open fashion. We want to be able to work with you directly with our CRM files. We want to be able to have a way that all of this is onboarded together so we can ingest, for example, location data and purchase data back into our own CRM system to be able to have a much greater feeling for the customer experience.’

“The other thing we heard from clients, which really prompted us to open this up, is that they said, ‘When we work with you directly, our match rates, whether I’m a third party data company like Kantar Shopcom or I am a big brand who is trying to onboard their CRM file against digital identity… When we work with you, our match rates are somewhere between four and six x what they are when we work with our other onboarding partners,’” Jenkins said. “It was kind of a no-brainer for us that we needed to work with them and enable their data in an open fashion.”

Calling All Verticals

For the last three years, 4INFO had been heavily working on its appeal to retailers and consumer packaged goods brands by being able to match UPC and SKU — the barcodes on products at the shelf-level that can then be tracked directly at the checkout line by partners like Kantar Shopcom — to mobile devices and the company’s insights on households’ consumption.

But the onboarding solution is intended for any physical business, from retail to restaurants, that wants to better get a seamless view of customers’ media and shopping information.

“This program is for every vertical out there,” Jenkins said. “If you look at the data partners that we’re working with, like Kantar Shopcom, They have a lot of transaction data that they’ve accumulated through the various loyalty programs they track. The onboarding solution works perfectly in those environments where the advertiser is focused on addressability where the advertisers focus on wanting to be able to measure the impact it has on offline sales.

“CPG is all about getting down to the UPC level, while retail is all about trying to be able to measure things at a SKU level,” Jenkins added. “But let’s talk about quick serve restaurants. QSRs want to be able to measure more broadly than single products. They’re not asking, ‘Did you buy a hamburger and fries?’ They just want to know, ‘Did you spend $25 at my restaurant?’ We can provide that answer.”

 

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xAd Rebrands As GroundTruth In Expansion Effort To Broaden Location Data Services Beyond Ads

As the location technology landscape continues to grow amid rising demand to power technologies such as artificial intelligence and a wider array of industries such as real estate and healthcare, xAd has decided to rebrand itself and will now be known as “GroundTruth.”

The new name reflects the 8-year-old company’s evolution from its origins as a hyperlocal ad mobile ad network to a programmatic location marketplace.

Now, with the rechristening, the company seeks to broaden its vision amid an international expansion and last February’s acquisition of its first consumer-facing tech property, the meteorological info service Weatherbug.

As GroundTruth, xAd is also vowing to “decouple” its advertising and media sales services from its location data analysis so that its insights can stand on their own.

“The name xAd was too limiting for our business,” said Dipanshu “D” Sharma, CEO of GroundTruth. “The power of location data doesn’t have to be limited to media and can be realized in other applications from real estate, traffic and out-of-home planning to layering in weather to determine its impact on visits, something we recognized after acquiring WeatherBug. As GroundTruth, we’re able to realize our ambitions beyond media.”

xAd’s transformed into GroundTruth

According to the plan, GroundTruth will continue to support marketers and agencies through products like its geofencing data visualization tool Blueprints, which debuted in 2015, and Footprints, which rolled out in 2014 to provide real-time data on consumers’ mobile movements near brick-and-mortar businesses.

Just last month, xAd initiated its new performance-based ad format, dubbed Cost-Per-Visit, which guarantees marketers’ ROI, since they don’t have to pay unless their ad generated a walk-in.

“As a brand, xAd represented ‘location advertising’ with ‘x’ being ‘x marks the spot for advertising,’” GroundTruth CMO Monica Ho told GeoMarketing. “But we found over the last year-and-a-half it actually became limiting. People, especially those professionals who were not often involved in our category, struggled with what the name was.

“When we explained the vision of the company, we always focused on advertising primarily,” Ho continued. “But the rebrand signifies the evolution of our product set and our offerings. It also represents where we want to go as a company in terms of making core investments and sharpening our strategic focus.”

GroundTruth’s dictim: Build off something real.

The Rebranding Process

The rebrand was produced in collaboration with global brand strategy firm, Siegel+Gale. Aside from the new name, visual identity and there is something of a brand position in the form of a dictim: Build off something real.

While the challenge of switching gears is always a daunting gamble for an established brand, the company says the timing couldn’t be better: GroundTruth picks up from xAd with a first-party database of 95 million active monthly users and 17 million active daily users, across 100 million places and points of interest across 21 countries — in other words, it has significant reach and scale.

In terms of employee growth, xAd had 83 employees at the end of 2013 and 450 employees at the end of 2016 — before the purchase of Weatherbug. Meanwhile, since its launch in 2009, the company now known as GroundTruth has raised about $116 million over six funding rounds, according to Crunchbase.

The process for remaking the brand name and positioning began about 10 months ago, Ho told us.

“We needed a brand and a platform that represented our larger story and gave us the room to grow in the future,” Ho said. “But we also thought long and hard about name that would accurately and fully represent the ideals and values of the company.”

And how was GroundTruth decided on as the new name?

“We thought GroundTruth was perfect, simply because it represented a ‘fundamental truth’ about seeing things from the ground level and up,” Ho said.

Third-Party Verification Secured From InfoScout

In addition to widening its view on serving clients outside of the confines of ad campaigns, GroundTruth commissioned market researcher InfoScout to verify “the precision and coverage of its data” at select retailers.

According to the independent survey based on a representative U.S. panel, GroundTruth is able to interpret physical location with more than a 90 percent accuracy rate.  The “Accuracy Audit” analyzed 10,000 matched panelists who shopped at a sample of key retailers, consistently submitted receipts to InfoScout, and used location-based services via GroundTruth.

“InfoScout has the largest purchase panel in the U.S.,” Ho said. “We matched our data with InfoScout’s purchase panel, which represents 1 out of every 500 retail visits in the U.S. We were able to see 1 out of 3 retail visits that we saw in our platform and matched it to their purchase receipts.”

The importance of third-party verification was a crucial step in the process of transforming xAd as a media sales marketplace based on location to being a provider of data and insights based on consumers’ geospatial patterns. After all, clients don’t trust a partner who simply “grades their own homework.”

As a media seller, xAd relied on its five-year partnership with attribution specialist Placed — which last week was acquired by Snap — as well as online audience measurement firm comScore to verify its the location data that powered its ads. But as it looks to build a business beyond those industry ad metrics, it needs to maintain an ongoing system that can say whether or not its location tech is accurate.

“When we’re interpreting the location data that comes across our system, you need to be able to differentiate whether that person is in a Target store or if they’re nail salon next door,” Ho said.

In just its early trial period, GroundTruth has “made significant headway” in brand safety, assessing viewability, and guarding against ad fraud, Ho said. The company will to continue to investment in third-party verification and validation of not just its data, but GroundTruth’s entire platform.

“InfoScout is just the first step in that process,” Ho said. “There will be more coming,” she added, possibly hinting that GroundTruth may be accredited by the Media Ratings Council, which was established by Congress in the 1960s to serve as a watchdog for TV ratings’ validity in the use of broadcast advertising. The MRC has since gone on to serve as a clearinghouse for all manner of ad measurement procedures, including online and mobile, and recently oversaw the IAB’s geo-data and location ad standards.

(Location) Data As Service

The emergence of Data-as-a-Service, as a more narrow adjunct to software business models, is particularly important in the location space. As different signals provide varying levels of actionable intelligence, data quality and accuracy remains a major issue for tech company’s clients.

Perhaps more than any other targeting or analytics capability, getting location wrong even by several feet can severely diminish the value of geo-data.

As Sharma, who also founded xAd, has described it, location technology is a utility that can not only tell all kinds of vital details about a business’s place, as well as who’s been there, but it can intently extrapolate deep knowledge about consumers’ behavior and shopping profiles as well as power connected intelligence devices’ responses to users’ queries.

“Data and insights have always been a part of the company,” Ho said. “But in the past, we’ve always forced the data/insights together with a media and ad sales component. The rebrand marks the fact that we’re ready to decouple data/insights from ad sales.

“We will always offer a data and targeting solution” Ho said, referring to the above-mentioned products like Blueprint. “But the way the category is unfolding, and marketers and agencies, as well as areas outside of those buckets, such as analysts, can use our data on its own. And this is about allowing that flexibility.”

xAd’s Footprints

Scratching The Surface

Both Blueprint and Footprints were core technologies at xAd and they’ll certainly remain so at GroundTruth, Ho said.

“We only scratched the surface in the past, because these technologies were always tied to media purposes,” she said. “So we want to continue to invest in our core tech, but in different ways based on the variety of audiences we see as potential customers.”

As for how products like Blueprints will evolve under GroundTruth, Ho described it as something that’s always been an internal tool that to integrate accurate mapping data with its location targeting.

“In the future, we’ll expand Blueprints to be more open, more crowdsourced,” Ho said. “In those future cases, one of our partners or someone outside our category could look at location data and unique segments, we’ll let them identify the area they’re looking at. From there, they’ll be able to pull unique, custom data sets and behavioral insights from something like Blueprints.”

Next Steps

As it has in recent years, GroundTruth will have a presence at this coming week’s international gathering of the global ad industry in Cannes.

But don’t expect a heavy marketing effort to ensure the name is known far and wide, Ho said.

“We’re going to communicate to our existing client base,” Ho when asked about the communications effort around this move. “But the next few months will be an internal focus for the most part.”

In the meantime, GroundTruth will steadily seek to expand its work in non-ad areas. While real estate,  health care, traffic/smart city planning has generally been far afield from the company’s purview, Ho is quick to note that projects in those categories is not at all unfamiliar work.

“Real estate is not necessarily a new area for us,” Ho said. “But we’ve have certain scenarios come up in the past, where we’ve been asked to provide store planning. Or analysts have asked us for behavioral data and insights tied to certain places. We’ve had so many opportunities, but at the time, we chose not to invest further. Now, with the new brand, and the new technology focus on data-based solutions, we’re really diving in to coming to market with a new set of offerings and products that can address issues not tied to advertising.”

Just as with its promotion of the new brand and direction, GroundTruth is not in a feverish rush to get its positioning solidified within a month or two. As Ho noted, it will take time to sink in both for its staff and the wider marketplace of new and existing clients and allies.

“This is a big change,” Ho added. “Our move into data and insights is an important one. And until our employees really embody and feel empowered by the brand, that’s when we can make good on this new promise and direction. There will be a bigger marketing push later in the year. There is a lot more to come.”

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