Street Fight Summit: Location-Based Ads and the Magic Metric

I was honored to head a panel at the Street Fight Summit a few weeks ago, and I’m not finding it too awkward to watch myself on the video now. The topic was a doozy – basically how do you use measurement to justify the value of location-based digital marketing? Sure, location-based couponing tends to end in a recorded conversion, but is couponing the be all and end all of this channel?

My panelists – Duncan McCall, CEO of PlaceIQ; Lee Karchawer, National Sales Manager at Placecast; and Carolyn Eckhaus, Head of Data Management & Analytics for MapQuest – had good reason to disagree and made a strong case for location-enabled tools being used to connect online and offline behavior.

“We’re now in a world where location is at the foundation of the operating system,” McCall commented. “When it comes to mobile, it’s hooked into everything.”

There is no magic metric in location, but you could call location itself the magic metric. Really, it’s the glue for advertisers tying together disparate online and offline data to better understand audiences and the journey down the purchase funnel. 

For example, PlaceIQ has been heralding its PVR (place, visit, rate) metric, dedicated to driving consumers to certain destinations. Placecast recently launched PlaceAds to push its on-location retail data into a more traditional (yep, I wrote that) advertising product.

And as a piece of Aol, MapQuest is interesting because it feeds location data back into the larger advertising machine at that organization. While the forthcoming MapQuest app will offer an advertising component, the value of the data is much higher – and at the same time, harder to quantitate. 

We actually didn’t get a chance to delve into privacy issues, though someone in the audience broached the topic. I don’t believe we’ve yet seen the effects of privacy in the mobile space, possibly because the loudest advocates are still obsessed with desktop cookies, possibly because consumers don’t understand how device IDs work (it’s arguable whether they get cookies either).

As I commented at the end of my device identification opus this summer:

“While they may not understand the specifics and internalize it, consumers are likely to be more aware of mobile identifiers. That’s the first milestone in building a media marketplace in which consumers actively understand the value of their data and use them to transact for content and services – replacing the overarching “Internet is free!” mindset with an upfront realization that data is digital currency.” 

Location will be a highly prominent part of consumers taking agency of their data.

If you have a spare 40 minutes, I think the panel is worth a watch, or you can just throw it on for the soundtrack. Of course, then you miss out on the opportunity to gaze longingly at that handsome moderator…