You’ve probably heard a lot about offline intelligence, but you might not be sure how to tell what actually constitutes high-quality location data. Not all location data is created the same, and if you’re evaluating potential providers, there are several key factors that should be on your radar. Read on for six truths about location data to learn how to choose the right partners to maximize your marketing efforts.
1. Privacy Compliance Is Everything
When it comes to data, privacy has been the topic of the year. In this day and age, it’s absolutely paramount that the location data you use be privacy-compliant. This means it needs to adhere to current privacy regulations, such as GDPR. If not, you risk winding up embroiled in a privacy scandal.
In order to avoid this, you should go one step further and partner with a location data company that exhibits a future-proof approach to privacy. With GDPR-like rules coming to the US, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve in terms of privacy compliance. You want potential partners to not only meet existing privacy regulations, but also be focused on setting higher privacy standards and industry best practices, and ultimately preparing for future regulations that will come to the US such as CCPA.
2. High Scale = Meaningful Insights
The next truth is that in order for location data to yield meaningful and actionable insights for your local-to-national marketing efforts, it needs to be representative of the US population at large. This means that the data set needs to be diversified and have high scale.
Imagine that you’re in charge of optimizing media dollars against performance. In this case, performance = in-store visits based on ad exposure. If you’re leveraging offline measurement to measure in-store visits, it’s vital that your decisions be based on meaningful insights. For example, 200 visits is quite different from 2,000 visits — and you do not want to be wasting ad impressions and media dollars on low-scale insights. At the same time, you do not want to sacrifice scale for accuracy, which brings us to our next point.
3. Accuracy Goes Hand In Hand With Precision
Location data must be accurate. With regard to location, accuracy is the degree of certainty of how close the data provided is to the actual point of interest (or retail location). But what if the data is accurate for a certain location — say for example, the Bed Bath & Beyond store in Wynnewood, PA — but not precise? Precision means exactness on a map, and it is expressed using lat-long coordinates. The more decimal places that exist, the more precise the location is. So in our example, precision would be how many feet the location data is from Bed Bath & Beyond. In this way, accuracy and precision go hand in hand; they are both necessary qualities for the location data to be valid.
4. Not All “Visits” Are Real
It’s a common misconception that every location data company can provide data on store visits. In order for a location data company to be able to determine whether an actual consumer visit took place, it needs to measure time spent in store. This is a metric known as “dwell time,” which measures how much time consumers spend in store. It is used to verify a consumer visit by distinguishing actual visits from non-relevant data points, or as we call them at Cuebiq, “fake visits.”
Let’s consider an example. Just because a user gives off a momentary location ping (retrieved from the bidstream during an ad call) near a hockey stadium does not mean they actually saw a game — they could have been just walking by. In order to determine whether they attended the game or not, you need to consider how long they spent at that location. In this way, dwell time is an essential metric to consider in evaluating location data providers, as it parses real visits from fake visits. Just like in truth No. 1, the numbers matter — 200 pings does not equal 200 visits. Location data can be layered onto almost every aspect of your marketing efforts, but if you’re choosing the wrong partners, you will not see the ROI.
5. First-Party Data Rules
How is the data collected? You want first-party location data to ensure the data is high-quality and can be trusted. When the data is collected directly by the provider from consumers, it means that there are no intermediaries collecting the data — so you know that NO “data cleansing” or manipulation took place. First-party data is also important with regard to user privacy, as it ensures that users have the opportunity to opt-in to data collection. This is key to making sure your brand maintains a positive relationship with consumers, and you are adhering to existing privacy regulations.
6. Security Is the Secret Make-Or-Break
Finally, I want to mention a less buzz-worthy topic: security. As you evaluate new and current partners on privacy, it’s also important to understand how well they are equipped to protect their data. Partnering with a company that has its own internal security team and protocol is a great place to start. Using security as an evaluation metric will not only help protect brand and consumer privacy, but it will also reduce your risk of partnering with the wrong provider.
To learn more about what to consider when evaluating a location data provider, check out our blog post: “How to Choose a Location Intelligence Platform.”