Google, Facebook & Twitter Trade “Services” for Your Location

In a span of two weeks, Google, Facebook and Twitter (in that order) have introduced new location “services.” Behind the consumer facing appeal for these new services is an understanding by these platforms that location is a critical piece of data that is increasingly in demand by advertisers big and small.

This interest in location is being driven by widespread consumer adoption of mobile devices and demand among these users for contextual mobile experiences. Recent comScore data showed that mobile now accounts for 69% of all digital media time spent, helping answer the “why” behind a flurry of newly released location tools and services that are made possible by mobile devices.

Google Maps released a location sharing service that allows users to share their real-time location with friends directly on the platform. While most of the discussion focused on selling consumers on the practical application for the tool, Google’s ability to capture location data has a variety of advertising implications (targeting, attribution, insights, etc.).

Facebook announced location sharing to Messenger, where a user can share their location with friends who will see the user’s location on a map for the next 60 minutes. The product update comes shortly after the company was reportedly testing an “enhanced local search feature” which is an expanded version of Nearby Places. All of which demonstrates Facebook’s increased focus on location-based content and tools.

Finally, Twitter has made it possible for multi-location businesses to request a user’s location. Once the location is shared with the business, the business can share information with the user for the nearest storefront. The use case (below) with TGI Fridays shows how the company uses the tool to make it easier for users to find and engage (reservations, order, etc.) with the brand locally.


Historically, digital advertising spending was largely driven by traffic, and in many ways this remains a driving force. However, advertisers are demanding more robust and targeted offerings in order to reach the “right” consumers instead of the most consumers. These announcements, though varying in execution, all lead to the same thing: location.

Location data is valued from a targeting and audience building perspective, and given Google, Facebook and Twitter’s massive reach comes an opportunity to offer very unique location targeting capabilities. However, the most intriguing use of location comes as it relates to attribution, and there has been some major releases on that front as well.

xAd, Blis and Retale have, in the same time span as these announcements, introduced some form of cost per visit or pay per visit performance models. These metrics are intended to help advertisers understand the foot traffic impact of digital efforts. The objective is to use location data to connect the dots between online and offline behavior, helping advertisers see more meaningful performance.

It has been a very interesting couple of weeks as it relates to location and these developments are just a beginning. As platforms embrace tactics for capturing location data, innovative ways to use the data will continue to emerge, accelerating the space towards the location era of advertising.

LSA will be showcasing location intelligence and its uses — proximity marketing, indoor and location analytics — at the Place Conference in New York City on September 18, 2017. Learn more.

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