Location based mobile advertising fraud is hard to police
Monday, March 18, 2019
A discussion about why location-based mobile advertising is a tricky business and how the amount of location data fraud is probably affecting your media spends.
Warren Zenna Commentary
Mobile ad targeting is a moving target - pun intended, and location data fraud and counterfeiting is a global problem in the advertising ecosystem. Many marketers are unaware of the massive implications that unverified data can have on mobile ad campaigns - it's difficult to geo-target ads that target drive-to-store when the geolocation is wrong or invalid.
Location data fraud is essentially when the publisher of an application or the DSP manipulates the location-based data to increase the ad spend by the advertiser.
Imagine you have a chain of restaurants in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, and you want to drive foot traffic into those establishments to get people to try out a new sandwich you are offering. You have $100,000 to spend, and you want to geo-target only the cities of those states where the restaurants exist.
Ad campaigns are tricky enough but coupled with location-data targeting, things get a bit hairier because the advertiser is relying heavily on the delivery of the ads only going to the areas they care about - otherwise the campaign will fall on "deaf ears" in a way. Why would a customer in Kentucky care about a free sandwich offer for a restaurant in Kansas City for example?
So the accuracy, and integrity of the location-data are extremely important when targeting ads this way. Catching location-based data fraud can be equally as tricky, it seems the best way to thwart it is by verifying the location data itself - before the ad shows.
Because location data fraud is a growing problem, we caught up with Warren Zenna, President, Americas at Location Sciences, to talk about the location data market and what it means for mobile ad campaigns overall.
ADM: What do you feel is the largest problem in mobile ad targeting?
Zenna: Right now, data and quality of data are among the top concerns for brand marketers. In 2018, eMarketer forecasted that $22.1 billion would be spent on location-targeted mobile ads in the U.S. alone, representing 29.5% of all mobile ad spend.
Through our work with brands and agencies, we are finding that many marketers are putting a significant amount of budget toward mobile location data that they assume is viable. However, in reality, an increasingly large amount of this data is inaccurate, plagued with fraud and/or is counterfeited. Right now, the mobile ad industry lacks the technologies to “police” this problem to ensure that they are not investing in something that can not only hurt their bottom line but also their brand and marketing goals.
ADM: How is location data being collected for the purposes of location-based mobile ad targeting?
Zenna: Location data for mobile ad targeting from multiple sources, including:
- GPS data
- IP location data
- Cellular tower data
What is the best location based data to use for advertising?
With so many types of data sources, a lot of marketers ask us which data is best suited for mobile campaigns. Each data source has its pros and cons but should be looked at with the campaign goal in mind. For example, if you are trying to target consumers in a zip code or DMA, it might be best to consider IP location data because you can easily execute zip-level targeting with that information. However, if you want to go down to a tighter location parameter - like near or around particular stores or neighborhoods, GPS data sources would be necessary to achieve those targeting goals. Suppliers collect location data via either bidstream ad calls or direct from SDKs baked into mobile applications - mobile app data being the most accurate.
ADM: As the location data market matures, what do marketers need to be considering?
Zenna: Location data remains mobile marketing’s most unique benefit. When executed correctly, location can greatly increase the relevance for the end consumer, for example pointing them toward a nearby offer or understanding their intent due to location history. But, without transparency into the data being used and more education about how to execute location data correctly, marketers will continue to either see poor results in their mobile campaigns or have little to no real understanding as to the actual outcomes. As such, marketers should consider looking at their data providers and start asking smart questions about how they are vetting and determining where their mobile data is coming from. Marketers need to know what questions to ask.
In addition, GDPR and other regulatory initiatives will become more relevant and put pressure on the entire ecosystem. Marketers should already be thinking about how these laws are impacting their campaigns and trying to get ahead of what is inevitable.
ADM: How is location data being used for good?
Zenna: When used correctly, location data can improve the relevancy of a campaign, which will improve the consumer experience and deliver better incremental campaign results. Location data is also crucial for emergency first-responders to target 911 calls more accurately. This use of accurate location data literally saves lives.
Warren Zenna joined Location Sciences as President, Americas in 2019 to launch and position the company for success in the region. His primary mission is ensuring all marketing stakeholders who depend on location data are able to verify its validity and value to drive the most out of their investments. Prior to Location Sciences, Warren spent 25 years in seminal executive roles at Havas, Publicis, iCrossing, IMC2, and Zeta Interactive, where he worked with dozens of leading brands to engage with consumers in impactful ways, scale their businesses and drive billions of dollars in value across their organizations.
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