More than half of location-targeted adspend ‘wasted’

Inaccurate or negligent use of location data has resulted in up to 65 per cent of mis-targeted digital spending, survey finds

By Omar Oakes

Nearly two-thirds of spend on location-targeted advertising is being wasted, a survey of half-a-billion locations across the UK and the US has found.

Location Sciences, a global location intelligence company, said potentially millions of ad dollars are being wasted because of poor-quality data and mis-targeted location impressions.

The company’s The State of Location Advertising report for the first half of 2019 also found that for every $100,000 spent on location advertising, 29 per cent of this was delivering impressions outside the targeted area.

Inaccurate or negligent use of location data has resulted in up to 65 per cent of mis-targeted digital spending, the report added.

Meanwhile, up to 36 per cent of spend was possibly being wasted due to location signals
that were too poor in quality to deliver the targeting requirements.

The research also found:

  • On average, 29 per cent of impressions currently miss the target specified by the client;
  • 36 per cent of the top GPS-enabled apps were found to display location fraud;
  • A 40 per cent increase in location signal quality and a 10 per cent increase in accuracy could be realised by enhancing transparency into data.

A lack of transparency and maturity in the location-based ads marketplace is hampering progress, Group M’s MEC (now Wavemaker) warned after publishing its own research
in 2017.

Advertisers that want to target people on the high street, for example, required targeting down to two or three metres, but were at risk of their money being wasted, according to MEC’s study. This is because some companies offering targeting were less than 50 per cent accurate
at even 25 metres.

Location Sciences measured 500 million digital location-targeted impressions delivered
in the UK and the US from January to June 2019.

Mark Slade, chief executive of Location Sciences, said: “While some location data suppliers are doing an excellent job – in our analysis, 40 per cent of suppliers showed nearly 100 per cent accuracy in location and 35 per cent near 100 per cent accuracy in signal quality – there is still a large percentage of suppliers who are significantly underperforming.

“For location to be used effectively in digital advertising, brands should ensure that they understand exactly what they have purchased and how this is being deployed. This will help to drive significant improvements in accuracy and campaign performance.”

‘The best data possible’

Puja Pannum, MENA managing director of Blis, says quality is key to making the most of location services

I agree with Mark’s comment that for location data to be used effectively, brands should make sure that they are working with the highest quality data. This is an underlying factor with many of the issues facing the industry at the moment. You need to start by ensuring that you have the best
data possible.

For Blis, accuracy and transparency underpin our entire business and it’s why we’ve recently adopted Location Sciences’ Verify platform. Having our data verified by an independent third party is absolutely key, as it is imperative that the industry is not marking its own homework, so to speak. Our data already goes through a rigorous 10-step filtration process via our proprietary Smart Pin, which discards 80 per cent of the
data received because it doesn’t meet our standards for accuracy and quality. For us, it’s also important that our customers know that they can trust us and that we are walking the talk.

But data itself isn’t the full picture. It’s the raw input and it’s only by layering context, whether that’s through the lens of a particular brand or a specific business challenge, and analysing the information, that we get meaningful insights. This real-world intelligence can help a brand
to really understand their audience and deliver effective campaigns and real results.

The Location Sciences research is focused on the US and UK, which have different shopping cultures than we do here in the UAE. Our proclivity for shopping malls in the Middle East would probably impact the results if the same study was conducted in our region. However, the challenge remains the same: How can marketers make sure they are maximising their investment in location data?

First, working with partners that prioritise accuracy and transparency is essential. And secondly, you need to really understand your audience.

In the advertising industry, when talking about location, the end customers often become a series of data points. We’re championing better understanding of the real people living real lives that our clients want to reach. The Blis Smart Platform makes sense of all the information gathered and turns what to many is just data, into something that is more meaningful – the truth about what people actually do. We want to change the conversation in the industry, by placing emphasis on real-life behaviour, enabling brands to complete the picture of who their customers are: real people doing real things in real life.