Location data: the new frontier for digital marketers

01 May 2017

  • Analytics
  • Technology
  • Data
  • Digital Marketing
  • Marketing Technology

By: Greg Houston, Founding Partner, HoustonKemp

With smart technology making its way into every facet of our lives, humans are more connected than ever before. And with this connectivity comes a new wave of possibilities for marketers and advertisers that has the potential to change the way we interact with brands.

When it comes to successful marketing, it's important to know not only who your customers are but also where they're going to be. Without this crucial data there's no way of predicting the outcomes of your campaigns to ensure you're reaching the right audience and getting return on investment. This is true for all forms of advertising, from online banner ads to roadside billboards, but as the technology we use to collect data evolves, so does our ability to connect with our customers.

We are hungry users of data, since that is key to understanding ‘what’s going on’ in everyday markets. Our economists at HoustonKemp are always on the lookout for new datasets to help us understand the world around us and predict outcomes for the future. Location data in particular has the potential to provide a whole new layer of insight for economists, but they can also unlock new marketing strategies, both in the digital space and in the real world.

HERE Technology is at the forefront of development in this space. With access to vast volumes of real-world location data of people and vehicle movements around cities, combined with data from their social media partners, HERE is able to offer incredible new insights into consumer behaviour, which can help marketers create more effective campaigns.

Connected vehicles

Up until this point, the methods we've used to collect and measure data on travel patterns has been old-fashioned and rudimentary. Road strips, cameras and manual surveys can only provide us with a fraction of the information we need and are already being overtaken by new digital means.

Many new cars now automatically collect information and transmit it to a central data point. For example, some of the latest internet-connected Mercedes models collect up to 200GB of data per day, telling us everything including how long the engine was running, the speed and distance travelled, and even when the windscreen wipers are turned on.

The people inside the cars are also contributing to this build-up of data, with many social apps like Facebook and Twitter tracking your location and collecting information about your interests that contributes to our overall understanding of individual consumers.

Connected people

Every tech savvy marketer should already be leveraging social media data in some shape or form, but what about all the other sensor data sets available from smart phones or “probes” that can provide information on what a user is doing; and where he or she is located at any one time?

Smartphone probes carry information provided by light sensors, proximity sensors, accelerometers, barometers, gyroscopes and GPS.

We are also seeing the development of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies that allow the tracking of indoor movement patterns, again using this probe data.

This information is being collected by the HERE location platform and can be combined with other data sources to provide rich insights into not only human movement indoors and outdoors, but also the characteristics of the people that are present at any particular location.

Where is this all heading?

Combining information from a number of different sources, such as HERE's location sensor data and social media insights, allows us to get a better idea of who the consumers are and when they're most likely to interact with a brand.

For example, by tracking traffic patterns leading into major cities and comparing it to both the demographics of the area and the social media habits of the drivers, we can get a better picture of who is travelling on a particular stretch of road at what time.

This information can then be used by marketers to figure out which billboard will offer the best return on investment or where to locate stores to reach their target consumers.

As more connected vehicles join Australia’s fleet, more demographic and consumer behaviour insights can be gleaned from connected devices, unlocking immeasurable new targeting opportunities in the future.

What can this mean for the future?

We're currently experiencing the dawn of autonomous vehicles, the foundation of which is built on vast volumes of live data from sensors embedded in millions of vehicles.

For drivers, no longer needing to have hands on the wheel will eventually lead to replacing steering wheels with TV screens and other entertainment options.

The transition from drivers to passengers will allow us to be more aware of the world around us in the car, increasing the effectiveness of outdoor marketing in the interims and enabling new opportunities to engage people during idle time commuting.

As the technology continues to develop, it’s likely we’ll see real-time integration, where marketers for example can target connected and autonomous vehicles with offers for nearby retail stores or places of interest based on current location and personal data insights.

For marketers, it's not a matter of if this technology will be implemented. The challenge is to start experimenting with these new data-streams now so you’re on the cutting edge as the new wave of data-driven technologies hit the road.

Greg Houston is a founding Partner at the economists, HoustonKemp, which use economic analysis to assist clients address complex questions arising in competition, regulation, finance & policy matters. Greg recently presented at the ADMA Data Day events in Sydney and Melbourne.

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