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Not All Location Data is Created Equal

Insider Interviews is a series that features Q&As with innovators in local commerce. See the full series here


To prepare for Localogy’s Place Conference next month and get the juices flowing, we’ve begun to interview speakers throughout the program. The latest is with GroundTruth co-founder and CEO Sunil Kumar. The company continues to innovate in location intelligence for marketing, attribution and a growing list of operational functions impacted by location signals.

Kumar will speak on a panel discussion on Day 2 of Localogy’s Place Conference on the state of location-targeted marketing. See our full interview with him below.

LSA Insider: There’s lots of talk about imprecise or even fraudulent location data in location-based marketing today. What do you believe separates good data collection practices versus bad ones, and how does GroundTruth differentiate in its collection methodologies?

Sunil Kumar: There are several ways to capture location data, however not all methods are created equal, and the quality of the data collected varies by method. At GroundTruth, data quality is defined by everything we do to accurately assess whether a physical “visit” has occurred. To accurately define a visit, we apply three key areas of data purification: Location Determination, Place Determination, and Visit Determination. These three areas have been developed internally over several years of research and implementation, and differentiate us from other location data companies.

Visits are the KPI we’ve built our business around. It’s how we’re able to reach people based on where they are; it’s how we’re able to build better audiences based on where they’ve been; it’s also how we’re able to build predictive targeting products and performance-based buying models.

LSAI: What’s the biggest challenge facing location intelligence today? What are some of the looming uncertainties, whether they be regulatory or technological (e.g. shifting standards and policies at the mobile OS level)

SK: Over the past year or so, there has been increased chatter around location intelligence and the trajectory of the location industry overall. While the value of location-based marketing is clear — 90% of all retail transactions still happen in the real-world — the biggest challenges location companies face as technology evolves is accuracy and trust. While it’s important to advertisers that they can trust the quality of the data they use, it’s also important that technology providers deliver on those promises. At GroundTruth, quality location data is the foundation of everything we do, and it’s now more imperative than ever that we collect and deliver high-quality information as we expand our services and platform offerings.

Regulatory issues continue to be a challenge that we are facing head on. We’ve seen more and more discussions in the past few years about consumer privacy and compliance. We’ve seen big companies and small companies alike be affected by GDPR and will likely to see more conversations continue in the US.

LSAI: Location intelligence was once primarily used for advertising and marketing, such as ad targeting and attribution. But it’s evolved and broadened into other areas such as product planning, operational support and even equity research. What are the untapped or underserved areas where you believe location intelligence could thrive in 2020 and beyond?

SK: Moving beyond ad-targeting and attribution and looking to the future, we believe location intelligence will be a critical component to the internet of things, as well as many advanced services like AR/VR, AI analysis and predictive modeling. At GroundTruth, we are heavily investing in these emerging capabilities and are working towards building a platform that is able to better predict store visitation behavior across a myriad of channels. We believe machine learning and voice will be central to the industry as well as the success of GroundTruth, and we are excited to see what the future holds.

LSAI: We’re already coming up on the holidays. GroundTruth recently published a Holiday Season Strategy Guide for insights into foot traffic trends and tactics for media planning around the holidays. What are some of the key takeaways?

Since our location data can help businesses identify potential customers and direct them toward the shopping experience of their choice, every year we publish a holiday strategy guide that covers consumers’ foot traffic patterns during the holiday season.

Our guide includes several helpful key takeaways for businesses. One takeaway for Black Friday: this retail holiday provides good business for malls, which see 159% uptick in foot traffic. While visitation patterns showcase that Black Friday is still a huge holiday for brick-and-mortar, Thanksgiving Day seems to appeal to those recovering from their meal on the couch and shopping and online — 38% of eCommerce sales last Thanksgiving Day came from smartphones, compared to only 33% on Black Friday.

Additionally, our Holiday Season Strategy Guide includes some interesting findings about last-minute shoppers. We know in the last 2-weeks leading up to Christmas to do their shopping — 51% of consumers plan to make their remaining purchases, 41% plan to head to department stores, 25% to discount stores, 21% to apparel stores, and 17% to electronic stores. And just who are the true last-minute shoppers who shop the week before Christmas? That would be Generation Z consumers, whose foot traffic increased 71% the week before Christmas compared to the total holiday timeframe.

See more about the Place conference here


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