It’s time for location to leave the mobile ghetto

Location data is no longer just about mobile, writes Theo Theodorou, GM, GroundTruth – it can also help us understand consumer behaviour

I spend most of my free time walking around London capturing the perfect photo, and love trying unusual recipes with exotic, eco-friendly ingredients.

Well, you may well think that from looking at my social media outpourings, but in reality I spend most of my time in the pub and eat most of my meals via Pret, Wasabi and McDonalds.

Now, neither of these statements is actually totally true. My life is in fact more probably a combination of the two (along with family life and Spurs supporting). If you’re only looking at my social media self, you’d of course have no way of knowing that and any advertising delivered on the back of such insight would be way off the mark.

Media has of course become increasingly data driven but marketers have become wary of its provenance and its actual relation to real consumer behaviour.

A series of scandals, from Cambridge Analytica to ad misplacement and measurement based on companies marking their own homework, has led to a fog of mistrust over the entire media industry.

Marketers are looking for data they can trust, data which paints an honest, accurate picture of consumer’s behaviour.

That’s why, as UKOM CEO Ian Dowds points out in his excellent piece on demographics, “More traditional media planning disciplines and processes still play a significant part for advertisers today.”

But as Dowds also recognises, clever marketers will overlay this with carefully selected data from the myriad options now available.

One of these options, location data, is in urgent need of a rethink, a reassessment of what location data actually represents.

Location data is no longer really about mobile or mobile marketing. Instead it’s today one of the most accurate ways of understanding consumers’ behaviour, based on what they actually do in the real world, not what they say they do online, or even to market researchers.

Of course, we all today spend more of our time in the digital world, however often the most visceral manifestations of digital actually happen in the physical world and location data can be the best bridge between the two.

Location doesn’t lie. While social media, for instance, is often the highly edited and curated ‘best version’ of us, location data, by being based purely on people’s real-world actual, rather than claimed, behaviour is the one data source that paints a totally honest picture of consumers’ lives.

We recently carried out some research to discover UK marketers’ views of location data and among the findings was that 71% believed location data has the ability to provide customer insights that no other channel can.

While the insights gleaned from this data, provided by a wide range of companies today to an incredibly accurate degree, can be used to deliver highly effective mobile campaigns, its truly most effective application is in taking its place as a core tool in the planning of all media, from online to outdoor to even programmatic TV.

What’s exciting is that this is becoming more widely understood across the media industry.

So don’t just take my word for it, after all I do work for a location data company.

We recently carried out some quantitative research into the views of leading figures across the industry and were heartened to see the role of location at the heart of media planning being recognised.

Richard Shotton, OMD Head of Behavioural Science, and author of The Choice Factory, for instance pointed out that location data’s real advantage was that, by being based on actual rather than claimed behaviour, it let marketers avoid the problem of social desirability bias, where survey respondents often provide answers about their behaviour that make them look good rather the representing actual behaviour.

Ebiquity’s Associate Digital Director Jide Sobo went a step further and believed that location data should be used to plan all media, providing a real-world understanding of consumer behaviour that can help deliver more effective TV and outdoor advertising.

Marketers today have access to amounts of data on consumers that can sometimes feel overwhelming.

If we’ve learnt anything from the industry’s travails over the last couple of years, it’s that only data that provides an authentic view of people’s true behaviour, their true selves, can really be useful in delivering the brand experiences that actually add value to people’s lives.

It’s time for location data to be taken out of the mobile marketing ghetto and take its rightful place at the heart of media planning.

In the meantime, I’m off to the gym, via the nearest Wasabi.
Theo Theodorou is GM for GroundTruth EMEA

This article first appeared on Mediatel here.

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