Is it the data or the question?

The value of location data should not be marred by the recent buzz about its inaccuracies. Studies have shown that a mobile campaign using location data is more effective than one without verifying that the opportunities in location-based advertising are great.

This coupled with recent reports and articles talking about how more than half of location data is faulty makes me wonder if we are asking the wrong questions. Perhaps it is not whether or not the data is accurate but to what degree does it need to be accurate to still be effective. If I serve an ad to someone who turns out to be a mile outside of my defined radius but they still engage with the ad and the result is an in-store visit, then who is to say that the location data was “wrong”? Could it be that we are measuring the wrong thing and instead of focusing on targeting, maybe we should be looking at the results? Maybe the question that we should be posing is how can you validate where my ads were shown and the result of that engagement.

At Sonata, we believe that it is the end result that validates the data. We have built heat maps into our dashboard to show not only where the impressions are but also the engagement thereby illustrating a measurable ROI. By seeing these activities in real-time, we are able to optimize campaigns by tightening or widening the geo-fence based on post-engagement activity. The location data is a starting point but it is the end result that we analyze and use to validate accuracy.

There is a degree, of course, to which location data inaccuracy is intolerable but like anything there stands to be a margin of error. As we work to create standards around location-based advertising, perhaps we should consider what that margin is to still be considered “accurate” if it is effective.