18
Jun
2019

Location Data: Why Accuracy Matters for Marketers

06/18/2019

As the digital advertising industry has continued its shift toward localization, the issue of location data quality has become increasingly crucial. First, let’s be clear on what we mean by “good” data in this context. For location data to be good, it must be actionable; meaning, it can be used to drive successful location-based marketing campaigns. However, to be actionable, location data must also be accurate.

According to Streetfight, advertisers are wasting 30-50% (in some cases as much as 80%!) of their location-based targeting spend on “inaccurate, poor-quality data, some of which is fraudulent.” These numbers should cause all digital marketers to take a step back and ask: how accurate is the data I’m using to target my ideal audience?

The quality of location data available to marketers varies widely, and there is often confusion and ambiguity surrounding where the data comes from, how it’s being used, and what it actually means for data to be accurate or inaccurate. In this post, we’ll bring some much-needed clarity to this conversation, and dive into the process by which Simpli.fi sources and ensures the quality of the location data we provide.

 

Where Does Simpli.fi’s Location Data Come From?

Before we go too deep, it’s important to note that there are many forms of location data. The most common form, and the kind Simpli.fi uses, is “actual” GPS data (rather than derived). The reason actual GPS data is so well-known and widely used is because it’s the most accurate form of location data out there, and Simpli.fi only uses data that has been confirmed by at least three GPS satellites in orbit to pinpoint a precise location.

That said, let’s dive into the sources. Simpli.fi’s location data comes from two places. First, data is collected from the billions of bid requests seen daily from our integration with the top programmatic exchanges. We also collect data from an ever-growing number of third-party data providers.

Bid Stream Data
Simpli.fi collects approximately 240 billion bid requests a day from our exchanges. Even after significant filtering, we still see over 3 billion lat/long requests and about 500 million unique lat/long coordinates. This is a huge source of data we have constant access to that allows us to target users across tens of thousands of applications.

However, we are fully aware that not all bid stream data is of sufficient quality to be used in our location-based targeting solutions. This is why Simpli.fi employs a number of rigorous data science and scrubbing methods to ensure that only high-quality lat/long data ends up being used.

Third-Party Data
Simpli.fi works with industry-leading third-party data partners to further expand the amount of high-quality lat/long data we have access to. Currently, Simpli.fi’s third-party data doubles the amount of actionable lat/long data available to us, forming a powerful combination with bid stream data. This number will only continue to grow as we onboard more third-party data partners. All third-party data is also reviewed internally by Simpli.fi’s Data Science team to identify and filter out any data that fails to meet our quality standards.

 

Accuracy at Its Finest

There are multiple reasons why we’re confident that Simpli.fi’s location data is the most accurate an advertiser can get when it comes to location-based marketing. To start with, our dedicated Data Science team is constantly analyzing GPS data to filter out fraud, bots, or patterns of data that we deem to be faulty or of low quality. All of our existing platform-wide fraud filters exclude any users or data sources that have been flagged as fraudulent or suspicious (e.g. a particular user sending thousands of lat/long data bid requests). And thanks to our Data Science team’s rigorous cleaning and filtering methods, we’re able to ensure that the right users are targeted and conversion tracking is as on-the-dot (literally) as possible.

Whether it comes from the bid stream or a third party, the location data derived from today’s cell phones is generally accurate down to around 4.9 meters. But after our platform further scrubs and analyzes the data, that accuracy can tighten down to mere inches (if the device is capable). Despite certain hindrances that affect all GPS technology (e.g. satellite blockage, age of device, etc.), our capabilities are as effective and accurate as the device allows, and as cellular technology becomes more advanced and GPS infrastructure continues to expand, accuracy will continue to improve as well.

And if you’re wondering whether Simpli.fi’s use of unstructured data comes into play here, the answer is a resounding yes. Every so often, a mobile app will cache its location to save battery life, but since we’re able to target users with recency (an unstructured data element), our platform is able to retain the individual timestamp associated with each and every GPS data point. When it comes to location data, no other platform offers this degree of accuracy and flexibility.

Additionally, many publishers use something called header bidding (i.e. offering inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously) as a way to ramp up the bidding process. With more exchanges involved, we’re able to refine the accuracy of the location data by comparing GPS coordinates from each exchange and filter out any faulty or inaccurate information.

 

Why Does Accurate Location Data Matter for Advertisers?

In a world where people are mobile-obsessed and location services are ubiquitous, location-based targeting is one of the most effective ways to reach the right consumer at the right time. But location-based marketing is only as good as the location data being used to target an audience. Ever hear the expression “garbage in, garbage out”? If inaccurate location data goes into your campaign, you can expect the campaign’s performance to be subpar.

When actual (not derived) GPS data is vigorously scrubbed and filtered for accuracy, the resulting location data can:

  • Provide more granular insights into audience behavior and preferences.
  • Help advertisers gain an understanding of what drives people to a physical location.
  • Inform marketers what programmatic mobile strategies are and are not working, and allow for optimization in real-time.
  • Serve as a gateway to Geo-Fencing and other location-based marketing tactics such as Addressable Geo-Fencing and Addressable OTT/CTV advertising.

This is why the unparalleled accuracy of Simpli.fi’s location data makes such a huge difference for advertisers.
 
To learn what Simpli.fi’s location data can mean for your next ad campaign, contact us at hi@simpli.fi.