Tracking the Consumer Through Location Data

By Charlene Weisler

The availability of location data through mobile has become a boon to marketers who are interested in tracking the consumer journey to purchase. Verve, a programmatic mobile display firm located in NYC, recently released their latest findings on the state of location data.

The Value of Location Data

In a world that is increasing headed towards audience segmentations, location data adds a bit more nuance to our understanding of consumer behavior. The ability to map movement patterns, store visits, time of visits, the quality of a visit (whether the dwell time is too long for a convenience store or too short for a car dealership, for example) and the relative value of the visit applied to the budget, all form a view of the consumer that goes beyond demographics, psychographics and segments.

According to eMarketer, 74% of North American marketers polled said that location information is a key element in understanding why and how customers interact with businesses. Further, 65% agreed that mapping the offline customer journey provides actionable insights on consumer behavior, intent and brand affinity.


How to Use Location Data

From a marketers’ perspective, location data can be used in real time or as a post-campaign assessment. For those who create several versions of an ad, push notifications at the point of sale have seen some positive results. According to eMarketer, 36% of mobile app users said they’ve made an in-store purchase after receiving a location-based push notification. For those who use location data as a post- assessment, 91% of marketers say that it has increased their understanding of their audiences.


The Verve report suggests that marketers follow these steps in using location data:

  • Investigate the data quality. Make sure it’s verified.
  • Use the data only when it adds relevance. Not all campaigns require location data.
  • Know what you want to achieve by using this data.
  • Map out the true trade areas and how consumers reach the point of sale. Trade areas rarely resemble a circle.
  • Think about the best moment to send the message. Sometimes it’s not while in the store.


Cautions in Using Location Data

In a time of increased focus on consumer privacy, the gathering and use of location data must be approached carefully and with transparency. Consumers are increasingly concerned about how their data is gathered and used. Only 13% of consumers polled in an eMarketer survey feel that they have control of their data, are asked for permission and can make a conscious choice about how their information is being used. 

Ultimately though, marketers are positive. “Location data will continue to grow and be adopted in more of a business intelligence way,” concluded, Michael Liu, Director of Mobile and Innovation Strategy, Carat USA.

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