Mobile Marketers: Are You Near Me Now?

Mobile Marketers Are You Near Me NowIt was more than a decade ago that the ubiquitous phrase “Can you hear me now?” invaded American consciousness.

Back then, cell users were asking the questions. Today, it’s mobile marketers. And the question they’re asking is: “Are you near me now?”

Precise location data has the potential to be the “killer app” of mobile advertising. However, Thinknear, a leader in location based and targeted mobile advertising, says a shockingly large amount of the data pinpointing mobile users is faulty. In a range from vague to way off base, the data is still too imprecise to stimulate any marketing magic.

Thinknear is raising awareness of this issue with Location Score, a new index that measures the accuracy of location data used in mobile advertising.

Today, it’s possible to better peg location. There has been a huge upswing in available data; a few years ago, less than 10 percent of ad inventory, for instance, came with latitude and longitude information.

According to Thinknear founder and general manager Eli Portnoy, that percentage has risen to 67 percent. But there are still issues.

“The bad news is that the quality of that location data has degraded considerably over time,” Portnoy says. “We’ve been working over the last two years to accurately score location and only buy location data that’s accurate.”

Portnoy believes mobile marketers should be able to compare location-based ad impressions to actual location data to determine how accurately their ads are being delivered.

To create the Location Score index, Thinknear examined 3.5 billion exchange ad auctions and bought 53 million ad impressions. The company asked users if it could target their locations via GPS. It then compared that data to what locations were posited by the ad network.

There’s work to be done. Portnoy revealed that the Thinknear Location Score index for mobile marketing overall, based on the first round of measurement, is 49 out of 100. In fact, 34 percent of the impressions were accurate within 100 meters, 9 percent were between 100 meters and 1000 meters, and 30 percent were between 1,000 meters and 10,000 meters — the latter being what Thinknear considers not even local, but regional.

Finally, 20 percent of mobile location-based ad inventory was outside 10,000 meters — more than six miles off target. What advertiser wants to deliver an ad for a store near Rockefeller Center when a user is on a ferry to Staten Island?

Portnoy said Thinknear is “finding that better location data quality correlates very directly and linearly with conversion” as tracked by various metrics, including time spent on site, traffic to an online destination, and actual visits to restaurant, retail, and other establishments.

In other words, mobile marketers are destined to soon get better answers to that question: “Are you near me now?”