Location-based marketing is becoming a vital part of understanding real human behaviour and planning real world intelligence powered marketing campaigns, but there are still a number of misconceptions about the technology. Location data tells us so much more than where a person is at any given moment so that they can be targeted with real-time ads. That’s one use of location – but it barely scratches the surface of what understanding real-world human behaviour can truly bring to marketing and advertising.

So, with that as a backdrop, let us explore five myths you may have heard.

person holding black smartphone

Myth #1: Anyone can do location.

Reality:  Everyone in the industry wants to have their say about location data, the technology behind it, and how agencies use it. However, not everyone understands location data or uses it correctly.

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Precision can be measured by the number of decimal places in the latitude and longitude provided. The number of decimal places correlates directly to the level of precision. So, as you can see from the table below, a latitude / longitude to a single decimal place can accurately identify a country or region, whereas one with two decimal places could identify a large city or district. Five decimal places can accurately hone in on an individual tree, and six can identify a person.

Decimal PlacesDecimal DegreesDistanceConcept
01.0111 kmCan identify a country or large region from another
10.111.1 kmCan identify a large city from a neighbouring large city
20.011.11 kmCan identify a small village from the next
30.001111 mCan separate one neighbourhood or street from another
40.000111.1 mCan identify an individual street or parcel of land
50.000011.11 mCapacity to distinguish one tree from another
60.00000111.1 cmMeasuring approximately 4 inches wide. Used for structural design & surveyance engineering
70.000000011.11 cmUsed for precision geographic surveying, representing the practical limit of the use of GPS

With so much precision riding on a single decimal place or two, you can see why it matters so much when it comes to targeting. Rounding up from four decimal places to two means the difference between tracking a person’s behaviour in a store to determine whether they’re in a particular neighbourhood. The difference may seem small, but in the world of hyper-local advertising, it’s significant.

Claiming to be able do location doesn’t mean it’s done right. You should look to an expert (like Blis) with proprietary algorithms and technology to accurately scan and validate that all the latitude / longitude data taken in is accurate. In the cases where it’s not, that data should be removed from the pool so that it cannot be used by anyone and would not spoil any campaign and attribution analysis.

Myth #2: There is limited value to location data.

Reality: Location data is often placed in a bucket along with other data in the marketplace such as social and search. As you know, a lot of that data is of questionable quality. Even within the available location data by various providers, there is a tremendous amount of inaccuracy, and that includes GPS data which is considered the gold standard. That’s why we developed a number of proprietary tools such as Smart Pin and Smart Scale, which ensure the data we use is accurate and client-ready.

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As an example, there is an adage that affluent audiences are harder to target than sports audiences, and that’s why they cost more to target. But really, you should be looking at your intended data-set and judging the value you place on the ability to engage with that audience.

We need to have more transparent conversations about what brand expectations are regarding ROI. Which KPI must you commit to in order to reach your ROI target? And who are the players that are contributing towards that? For example, you don’t apply location data if you’re simply trying to drive clicks. With clicks as your KPI, you’ll lose out. You can click more cheaply with run of network if that’s your goal.

It’s important that the same parameters are used in a comparison, in order to evaluate how effectively location data is being used. The cry of “location data doesn’t work” is often the result of it being compared to something it isn’t intended for.

Myth #3: Location is only proximity-led.

Reality: It is not. Proximity is only one slice of the pie. Knowing where a device is right now is relatively easy, whereas understanding the journey it took to get there is the key, as is predicting where it will go next. This is part of the reason why Blis considers location data (or, as we call it, real-world intelligence) as being able to provide the reality of what people actually do, versus what they say they do, or the aspirational behaviours they exhibit online.

Myth #4: Quantity beats quality every time.

Reality: While scale matters, relevance, accuracy and precision are the true keys to success with location data. You have to be sure the data is reliable and relevant in order for it to be effective – no matter how much of it you have.

There are questions marketers must ask their partners. If you’re working with companies who claim they profile their data by different behaviour types, how are they doing that? What is the DNA of their audiences? A deep dive with partners is needed to discover what is actually in the data and where it comes from.

Everyone asks about scale, and for example, in Hong Kong there are an estimated 5.4M devices active every day. When we’re running campaigns, we’re probably only targeting 100k devices a day. So, scale is not an issue, but the question should be: what is the relevance of the data you’re capturing?

Myth #5: Marketers will have to adapt to an entirely new way of marketing using location-based technology.

Reality: This technology is just an addition to existing omnichannel marketing, and it uses the same funnels that are already established. Marketers have a big opportunity if the technology is utilised well. Location data isn’t introducing any dramatically new and different technology; it’s another medium that allows you to reach your audience – especially on mobile where your audience lives now. It should not be siloed. It needs to be in conjunction – hence, omnichannel.

Location-based marketing already uses the same marketing funnels for both brand awareness and performance, so it’s an effective addition to your strategies regardless of what kind of marketing you’re doing, what type of audience you’re trying to reach, or whether your KPI is brand uplift, sales or both.

This post was contributed by Richard Andrew, Managing Director, Asia of Blis.

About Richard Andrew

Richard oversees Blis’ operations across the whole of Asia and is focused on managing the company’s expansion, as well as propelling the sales and operations teams towards continuous profitable growth.

His role is aimed at developing existing partnerships to fully utilise the smart audience behavioural insights that Blis generates by tapping into its proprietary location-based data. Richard plans to introduce the firm’s self-serve demand-side platform (DSP) and location-based intelligence to the market.

Prior to his appointment at Blis, Richard was the General Manager for Asia at Amobee, a global digital marketing technology company.

With over 14 year’s industry experience across multiples geographies and having previously held senior positions at companies like Microsoft & Yahoo!, Richard is an accomplished digital marketer and brings across a wealth of knowledge in sales, ideation, strategy & planning through to execution.

Richard Andrew graduated from University of Surrey with a BSC in Business Computing.