There’s something very interesting going on with location and mobility. And it may reshape how marketers and developers think about location in the future.
There are a number of companies doing what I would loosely call “offline analytics,” using digital methods. In this category are companies such as Moment Feed and Euclid Elements. They measure check-ins or visits to store locations.
Then there are several others using location to capture or infer other information about audiences or audience interests for ad targeting. These include PlaceIQ, Skyhook Wireless and Factual. In the latter two cases the companies do more but this is an emerging aspect of what they do.
In a sense these companies turn the concept of location on its head. It’s location not for location’s sake but as a proxy for something else: demographics or other values. A company called Placed is the latest to join this club.
Placed provides mobile app developers with analytics about where and when their apps are being used in the real world. Developers can find out if their apps are mostly used in moving vehicles (e.g., public transit) or whether, for example, they’re typically used in restaurants or near Target stores.
App usage data is matched to very precisely calibrated metadata that Placed has compiled from various sources. Usage is associated with business locations, categories, time of day and other information. Developers can then infer things about their audiences that they might not otherwise know. If the implications of this data aren’t immediately clear, Placed has outlined a range of use cases, from product development to ad sales.
Placed CEO David Shim told me that Placed didn’t start out to be an ad-sales tool; it’s really intended to help developers understand app usage and their audiences. However Shim said he has been surprised by several mobile ad networks using his data to build “channels” where marketers can reach audience or interest-based categories across a range of apps.
As I mentioned at the outset, Placed is part of a larger group of companies focused on “real world analytics.” My view is that there may be something very profound starting to take shape here with location that is very different from the way we’ve considered it previously (e.g., geofencing). And, from a brand marketing standpoint, it may upend all the conventional and superficial assumptions about how location and mobility will be used in marketing going forward.