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80pc of location signals in mobile are inaccurate: xAd exec

May 7, 2014

Safeway iBeacon small squareNEW YORK – An xAd executive at the 2014 MMA Forum said that 80 percent of location signals received by publishers are reportedly inaccurate.

The xAd exec presented a look at how marketers can best leverage location-based advertising during the “Location Technology: Behind the Scenes” session. When addressing how to monetize mobile through location-based advertising, the executive said targeting capabilities is one of the most common problems marketers face on mobile.

“Location is the foundation for any sort of targeting you’re doing on mobile devices because you’re never just stationary like you are with your desktop,” said Chad Hickey, vice president of sales at xAd, New York. “I want very different things from when I am at work than when I am at home.”

“You always have to know where that user is to be able to deliver the most relevant message, and the problem is it’s really up to the publisher to pass you the accurate location, so you need to be partnered with people who are monitoring these signals all day long so you get the most accurate location.”

“Only 20-30 percent of publishers’ actually pass on accurate information, so it is important to be with the right publisher so you don’t have wasted impressions and investments,” he said.

In-store technology: iBeacons
While location signals passed by publishers, in general, tend to be inaccurate, iBeacons are very accurate in regards to location.

IBeacons can provide retailers with some unique insight on their in-store customers and their behaviors.

However, iBeacon use is not yet at the level that makes advertising leveraging beacon technology a possibility at scale today.

As a result, companies such as xAd are more reliant on location signals received by mobile publishers who do not always have the most accurate information. As a result, xAd sees a need for location verification technology.

IBeacon technology, though an effective strategy for retailers in terms of range, reach across both Andriod and iOS devices and power usage, is being used by less than one percent of retailers, per xAd research presented during the session.

Mobile location data and the behavioral insights it discloses can deliver mobile audiences based on actual consumer activity. Location-based advertising can offer retailers real-time and historical data, and show marketers where a user habitually shops and eats, leading to more effective ad targeting.

Retargeting consumers
When signals are inaccurate, it becomes impossible to use location as a viable data source, per Mr. Hickey.

With 90 percent of retail inventory being tied to mobile location, advertisers wanting to target people within a certain location of a store should harness location-based technology.

Thirty percent of smartphones are currently iBeacon-enabled, according to xAd, though interestingly, the company predicts up to 60 percent of mobile devices use the technology within suburbs.

Swaying consumers from their intended plans to take advantage of a targeted offer is of high importance for quick-service restaurants and large retail brands. Mobile coupon redemptions and digital offers based on location are pushed to consumers that demonstrate certain behaviors that align with the brand’s quintessential customer profile.

Location verification
XAd has now expanded location analytics to help its clients narrow their campaigns based on intensive geographic and behavioral data.

SmartLocation and SmartFencing are xAd’s response to what the company sees as a lack of accuracy in real-time data on mobile advertising.

SmartLocation uses an algorithm to analyze consumer location signals, such as latitude and longitude, IP address, ZIP code and city/state address. Upon receipt, the data is scored for accuracy to ensure that coordinates, if available, are real and not converted from a ZIP code, via geocoding software, which can lead to imprecise data and low performance.

The SmartFencing technology is designed to make geofences less static, sorts through real-time and historical mobile search data to analyze trends in consumer behavior by location. The technology can adjust to a marketer’s targeting area, which can vary depending on the time of day or day or week, in real-time

“In the mobile world, we feel like if you walk off a BMW lot, we see that you’ve been there, we know your ID, wherever you go throughout your real-world experiences, we can be there to retarget you,” Mr. Hickey said.

“So whether you are going to Starbucks or someplace people wouldn’t think that you would frequent, marketers can still reserve and target said users through defined behaviors,” he said.

Final Take:
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Michelle Saettler is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer, New York. Reach her at

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