MMW Platform Showcase: 1020 Placecast

The following is the first in a new series here on MMW where we take a closer look at the companies, startups, providers and platforms that foster innovation in the mobile marketing and advertising segment.  Our goal is to break down various providers and give you an inside look at who they are, what they do, who’s behind the company and the subsequent technology being implemented.

Today we’re taking a closer look at 1020 Placecast, a geo-based mobile advertising company based in San Francisco.  Placecast, unlike most providers in the mobile ad game, places heavy emphasis on detailed location information for consumers rather than focusing on demographics or context.  This angle helps Placecast stand out from the rest, even those increasingly focused on location-based mobile ads, by way of utilizing location in a very specific and unique way.

Put simply, Placecast provides a platform that allows advertisers to target consumers based on where they’re at and where they’re going, while maintaining the ability to reach those consumers across any connected device- the Web, email, mobile and WiFi.  On the other end of the spectrum, Placecast provides a means for publishers to monetize their content via the same location-oriented ad-placement, whether that content is on the Web, accessed via mobile or WiFi, or email.

At the heart of Placecast is the company’s proprietary location-based platform that brings together four integrated components to serve highly accurate and dynamic advertisements across any connected device.  The basis of which begins with its ‘Geo-Semantic Engine.’  “The Placecast platform has already been built to accept any expression of location from any connected source,” explains Alistair Goodman, CEO of Placecast in a recent interview.  “This includes latitude/longitude coordinates from GPS, cell tower triangulation, street address, roadway segment, airport code, neighborhood name, ZIP code, place name or landmark, just to name a few.”

The platforms paints the clearest picture of a user’s location available.  “Today, Placecast manages the largest, cleanest, continuously updated set of location data, with more than 50 million locations in the US alone,” continued Goodman.  “This part of our technology is licensed by other companies to assist in the delivery of their services.

This data is normalized and standardized inside the platform, creating a “consistently correct reference to any location over time,” and provides a key to any other location-based data set.  The engine also offers a complex rights management and scoring system that enables the continuous update of various location data attributes by a multitude of users with different credentials.  Instead of simply tracking location and subsequently serving relevant ads, Placecast places heavy emphasis on providing the most accurate, detailed and standardized location information possible- increasing relevancy and overall accuracy while reducing segmented and incomplete data along the way.

With the location aspect covered, the next component of the Placecast platform is “Location Content Management (LCM),” or a means to attach continuously updated data to any location acquired via the Geo-Semantic Engine.  In other words, it allows place-specific information to be attached to any location, effectively creating rich profiles of specific places.  Examples of which would be restaurant hours, reviews and photos, demographics (census data), psychographics (PRIZM segments) and even “temporal information” such as weather, traffic or events.  The platform ultimately enables the association of any type of content with a particular location, at scale and in real-time.

The third and fourth components are the “Location-based Marketing and Monetization” aspect, as well as location-oriented analytics to tie everything together and allow for measurability.  The first of which is the bread-and-butter of the entire Placecast platform; a fully functional location-based ad serving and monetization technology that sits at the top of the Placecast platform.  It provides the ability to distribute location-based marketing campaigns across any connected digital device (web, mobile, Wi-Fi, navigation devices) while tailoring text or display images that automatically incorporate location or other data elements (like CRM) to increase the relevance of the message.

The system can also target based on the robust place profiles of the LCM (location content management system), ensuring the delivery of context-based messages- managing programs as diverse as location-based display, sponsored listings and paid placement, as well as opt-in location-triggered mobile and navigation programs.

The fourth and final component to the Placecast platform is a rich set of analytical tools that measure most aspects of any campaign run via the system.  From troubleshooting problematic location data sets to the delivery of location-based marketing programs, the company’s “place and time analytics” tools deliver highly-involved insight for marketers about their audiences, and assists developers in improving the location data that enables their programs.

Bringing together the immense amount of information, having the ability to standardize and effectively “clean-up” the data obtained and have the ability to utilize what seems like an endless supply of audience-specific data points makes the Placecast platform a truly unique marketing tool.

As an advertiser, the Placecast platform provides a few unique elements to make the process of location-aware advertising as painless as possible.  Larger brands, for example, can input location-specific data such as retail locations- which the platform will in turn standardize, clean-up, centralize and provide a visual geo-based customization layer via an easy-to-use Google Maps overlay.

Similarly, advertisers can setup simple “geo-fences” around particular locations within the Placecast platform to trigger advertisements based upon not only location, but numerous other user-specific data points as well.  In terms of the ads themselves, the platform enables dynamic changes in real-time based again off numerous audience-specific data points.  In a mobile campaign, for example, an advertiser can utilize an XML protocol to provide dynamically changing mobile ads on-the-fly- a technological first in the mobile advertising segment.

Placecast has taken on the problem of deciphering advanced location-based advertising across multiple channels head-on, and has executed more than effectively.  The company’s technology was four years in the making and resulted in 10 patents to date, making Placecast the go-to platform for truly location-aware advertising across all connected channels.