Connecting the Dots: How Location and Offline Analytics Will Transform Digital Marketing

Today’s Place Conference tackled the burgeoning location-based marketing space which is experiencing tremendous growth thanks to the rise of sensor technology. Bluetooth beacons, wifi, audio fingerprinting and even video software are unlocking microlocation analytics, detecting movement and behavior with unprecedented precision. In retail–the most common use case–these sensors can provide shopper analytics at the shelf or even product level.

During the panel, “Connecting the Dots: How Location and Offline Analytics Will Transform Digital Marketing,” folks from YP, RetailNext, ilnside, Walkbase and Opus Research took to the stage to discuss the implications of this new data. Broadly speaking, there was some debate around using location signals to monitor hard ROI metrics like sales and visits versus transforming the customer experience through a more holistic approach. Below are some of the core benefits some of their clients are finding.


Many companies like YP are using location based data received within apps and mobile web to connect ad exposure to store visit. This could create an unprecedented level of attribution available through mobile but could also have implications for other media, particularly OOH.  Through location signals, OOH companies will be able to gain valuable audience data to sell inventory and measure ROI. For instance, passerbys around a particular billboard happen to over-index on sports stadiums so why not sell to athletic apparel and sports brands or close the loop to indicate that they have actually visited a venue. Timing does play a factor however, as users may not be as impulsive, visiting a location after the period in which that location data is stored.


Largely a result of attribution, clients are using location data to optimize everything from store layouts to marketing signage. In these instances, most retailers are using wifi, bluetooth or cameras to detect movement patterns and flows throughout store, correlating that with purchase data and other measures.  For instance, retailers can now see metrics like window conversion rates (percentage outside store that enter) which is a measure of how effective your window display may be. Other examples may include analyzing heatmaps of traffic patterns to determine the most profitable customer journey. A/B testing is often used to influence decision making.


Beyond traditional location-based targeting via GPS, retailers are experiencing more precise targeting throughout the path to purchase. Beacon technology, for example, could enable sequential messaging when a shopper enters a store, reaches a shelf, or returns to a location. Navigation also factors highly into the equation as retailers and brands can help direct shoppers down to the product level. This would be critical to large, multi-purpose venues like Ikea who could begin rolling out these sorts of proximity messaging to assist with navigation, in-store pickup, and even checkout.

There is no question about the tremendous potential for marketers to unlock new consumer touchpoints. Yet, there are also a number of key considerations, namely scale, privacy, operational costs and maintenance. Are these barriers worth jumping over or are they a cause for concern?