How Marketers Can Use Location Data To Find Brand Affinities Among Holiday Shoppers

With everything from voice search to omnichannel ad targeting changing the way brands attract holiday shoppers, the use of location data to make the connection between brick-and-mortars and consumers.

But figuring out the best ways to use location data remains an issue. While retailers pay attention to online browsing patterns, consumers still make the majority of purchases in stores, and how they move in the physical world influences their path to purchase, notes Ocean Fine, VP, Agency and Strategic Accounts at geo-data specialist Factual.

One of the things that location data does best is find the unusual shopping patterns of mobile consumers so that brands can anticipate who, when, and where shoppers might be more receptive to a geo-targeted ad.

Among the things Factual found at the start of the holiday shopping season:

  • 3.6 percent of Target customers visit a Starbucks before, while 6.3 percent visit a fast food restaurant
  • 4.6 percent of Walmart customers visit a gas station, while 4 percent visit a Walgreens
  • 9.9 percent of Macy’s customers visit a clothing and accessories retailer

“This kind of data could help retailers understand where they should focus ad dollars — Walmart could advertise deals at gas stations, or Target could partner with fast food restaurants,” Fine says.

GeoMarketing: Does Factual’s data have anything to say about the state of retail at the start of the holiday season? Was this a strong opening for retail? Or too soon to tell?

Ocean Fine: Per Adobe, Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017 were among the highest sales days of all time – definitely a strong opening for retail! What remains to be seen is how sales will hold up throughout the season and, most importantly for brand marketers, how well their campaigns perform to drive people to purchase, both in store and online.

What does this data say about affinities between brands in terms of being able to reach a store’s likely shoppers before they’re in a retail location?

Understanding where shoppers go before and after they visit particular stores, as well as their brand affinities, helps marketers paint a more complete picture of their habits and interests, and better design advertising experiences that will elicit a positive response. Messages that are personalized and make sense in context are preferred by consumers, and a clear map of the consumer journey allows marketers to create them.

Are there any particular ways that retailers should look at location/mobile data when trying to figure out when as well as where its best to reach potential customers?

Mobile is a primary point of purchase for consumers, now more than ever. Using location-based behavior data combined with the insights derived from mobile purchase behavior, retail marketers can understand the entirety of the path to purchase, allowing them to tailor relevant content and achieve the marketing trifecta, targeting the right consumer, with the right message, at the right place. Marketers are able to see patterns in their consumers’ place visits over time, make inferences about their interests and build custom audience segments to ensure they’re reaching those who are interested.

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Why WeWork Is Buying Meetup

WeWork has acquired app-based community gatherings and events promoter Meetup as the co-working space renter is racing to open and expand its global presence.

With the 235 offices across 54 global cities — 23 of which are in the U.S. — WeWork will look to Meetup to ensure that its locations become the center for startups and communities they hope to deepen its ties with.

The deal, details of which remain undisclosed, comes at pivotal times for both companies as they seek to consolidate and build on their respective growth. Meetup, which launched in 2002, has as its motto: “Bring people together IRL to create real community for everyone.”

While it first gained noticed among supporters of Howard Dean’s Democratic Party campaign in 2004 by aligning traditional grassroots organizing with “netroots” online associations, individuals and brands of all stripes have sought to use Meetup as a way to intersect digital and physical connections.

A WeWork office in Philadelphia

In a Medium post announcing its acquisition by WeWork, Meetup touts its 15,000-plus daily gatherings in over 100 countries : “ mostly weeknights and weekends; WeWork is 10 million square feet of space in 17 countries (and growing) — mostly occupied on weekdays.”

In a sense, the arrangement codifies an existing symbiotic relationship between the two brands. This year alone, 100,000 people have attended Meetups at beautiful WeWork spaces, Meetup says  — that’s a lot of RSVPs and related data that Meetup contains.

As WeWork concludes its seventh year, which started with a $4.4 billion investment from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the company needs to balance its startup identity — after all, those are who its primary clients are — with the imperative to rapidly expand into new cities, new neighborhoods.

Over the summer, WeWork tapped geo-data specialist Factual’s umbrella product, Global Places, which gathers data covering over 130 million local businesses and points of interest across 52 countries, help it select potential office locations that would meet the needs of the workers and companies it hopes to attract.

“Our real estate team surfaces myriad potential locations for our workspaces,” says Aaron Fritsch, head of product systems and operations at WeWork, told us last month. “Every space and location has potential but this also means we need to evaluate each lease and consider each location carefully.”

Some of the amenities WeWork was looking for included high-traffic places such as coffee shops and fitness centers, as well as areas with active nightlife — in other words, locations that office workers might want to take advantage of outside of work during the daytime and after business hours.

Considering that Meetup boasts an estimated 35 million global subscribers, being able to connect the right amenities and locations to those members’ groups, WeWork is likely to be using the information from those users to help plot out its next office locations as well.

In turn, awareness of those locations should spur attention from the local businesses that are also looking to attract the same workers WeWork and Meetup are aiming for as well.

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Snap Layers On Location Services, Adds Factual To Geo-Data Partner Mix

Snap is adding geo-data specialist Factual’s Global Places data as the social media “camera” and messaging platform continues to build up a roster of location technology providers.

The deal comes a week after Snap acquired attribution platform Placed. That purchase came after months of assembling location data and digital presence knowledge from partners such as Foursquare and Yext (full disclosure: Yext is GeoMarketing’s parent company. More details on that relationship here).

Factual’s Global Places data covers more than 100 million places across 52 countries. The company has also found itself in demand by other high-profile tech brands such as Uber, Apple Maps, and Facebook, which just expanded its nearly year-old partnership with Factual worldwide.

“As the neutral location data company making data accessible to everyone, our mission has been to build the biggest trove of location data in the world and share it with developers, marketers and enterprises,” said Factual SVP of Revenue Rob Jonas in a blog post heralding the deal. “We believe location is an incredibly valuable signal and a core differentiator for mobile based products, and will be more and more embraced by the best mobile companies.

“Snap Inc.’s innovative use of location has continuously impressed us, and we are thrilled to partner with the company to help drive more fun and surprising user experiences,” Jonas added. “During Snap Inc’s first earnings call in May 2017, the company announced it had 166 million daily active users on average.”

While Snap representatives have not be available for comment on the Factual deal, it’s clear that location has long been a crucial aspect of its product line, particularly its Geofilters, which have been available to marketers for two years, starting with McDonald’s in Aug. 2015.

Snapchat rolled out Geofilters — illustrations that can be overlaid onto photos while in specific locations —back in December 2014, but were initially unbranded. For example, a “snapper” on the island of Manhattan could choose a geofilter that simply read “Manhattan” in creative text. But particularly in the past year, Snap has sought to find deeper ways to build a better advertising and consumer experience around the concept of location sharing.

For example, in mid-August, Snapchat acquired mobile search and local recommendation app Vurb for a reported $110+ million to help promote discovery of local places — something that Foursquare’s flagship app also provides.

It is not clear how Factual’s data will fit in — or operate separately — with Snap’s other location intelligence tools.

What is clear, is that Snap, like most platforms, marketers, and agencies, view location data as fundamental to the way it engages and appeals to its users and marketing partners.

As marketers continue to become more data-driven and ROI focused, publishers that offer measurement tools that show a direct correlation between online campaigns and offline results can gain competitive advantage with brands,” said Brian Czarny, SVP of marketing at location intelligence platform Factual, told us last week when asked to comment on the Snap/Placed deal.

“That’s where having access to location data becomes so critical,”Czarny said, adding, “from the initial targeting of an audience all the way through to measuring device movement for attribution – and publishers will increasingly partner with location data providers like Factual or seek to acquire the data themselves.”

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What Snap’s Acquisition of Placed Says About The Value Of Location Tech

This week’s acquisition of attribution specialist Placed by social media giant Snap is reflects trend that has been gathering over the past few years: the notion that location technology is crucial to the implementation of online-to-offline marketing, the powering of artificial intelligence platforms, search, and indoor and outdoor engagement between consumers and brands.

Since geo-data is so essential to all those activities and purposes means that possessing the tools to measure and target and direct the underlying technology is raising the profile of other companies in that area of tech and software. We checked in with Brian Czarny, who was recently appointed SVP of marketing at location intelligence platform Factual, about what the week’s big deal means from his vantage point.

GeoMarketing: What does Snap’s acquisition of Placed say about the importance of location data and publishers/developers’ access to it within the wider first-party data they possess?

Brian Czarny: As marketers continue to become more data-driven and ROI focused, publishers that offer measurement tools that show a direct correlation between online campaigns and offline results can gain competitive advantage with brands.

That’s where having access to location data becomes so critical — from the initial targeting of an audience all the way through to measuring device movement for attribution – and publishers will increasingly partner with location data providers like Factual or seek to acquire the data themselves.

What this means for the entire location space / importance of location data

The acquisition is great for the entire location data market and shows the increasing importance of location data to not only advertisers in how they target audiences, but for publishers who want to offer deeper understanding of how online marketing translates to offline behavior of their users.

How are brands moving to incorporate location data into their marketing mix (understanding of customer behavior and tailoring experiences)

Brands are increasingly incorporating location data into their marketing mix and broader business initiatives. In doing so, they are gaining a deeper understanding of customer behavior, tailoring online & offline experiences, targeting the right buyer at the right time, and measuring the impact of online campaigns with real, offline results in ways not possible without location data.

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