#PlaceConf: Marketers Ignoring Real World Behavior Are ‘Seeing with One Eye’

In the opening remarks at the 2018 Place Conference in New York City, LSA’s Greg Sterling kicked off the event discussing the powerful role of location in understanding people. He argued that where people live, work, play and shop are powerful signals that offer clues about identity, affinities and intent.

From the marketing context, prior to the smartphone, the online and offline marketing worlds were completely separate. Online KPIs looked at CTRs, impressions, views, opens, completes, etc., which ignored offline behavior where the majority of retail and service transactions took place. In many ways, marketers were “seeing with one eye.”

Today, mobile devices are now the dominant platform for accessing the Internet, and roughly 9 in 10 smartphone owners use location services. These mobile users are generating a massive amount of data, which can help marketers discover a more holistic view of people both online and offline.

According to Greg, the potential uses of location data include:

  • To understand and identify audiences
  • Better understand buying behavior, preferences, intent
  • Competitive insights (where else does customer go, how often)
  • Contextualize and personalize content/experiences
  • Match ad exposures with offline actions/visits
  • Benchmark performance (internally or competitively)
  • As a financial predictor: earnings, M&A activity

However, as the market matures, the location data space faces a number of challenges which include:

  • Data quality and transparency
  • Privacy
  • Potential regulation
  • Differentiation among data providers
  • New capabilities = new complexity
  • Understanding on the buy side
  • Ongoing need for education (consumers, marketers)

The rest of the day’s sessions at the Place Conference are dedicated to exploring many of these challenges as well as finding the way forward for the location data space. Speakers include Google, PlaceIQ, OMD, Placed, Pandora, GroundTruth, Blis,, Gravy Analytics, Ninth Decimal and many more.

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