Ensuring Location Data Accuracy

| Industry + Technology

Hyper-local targeting – the ability to deliver impressions to consumers based on their real-time or historical location information – offers advertisers the opportunity to better understand the context in which they are interacting with consumers. Understanding context allows advertisers to tailor content, increasing its appeal to the consumer and the likelihood of interaction. But this innovative targeting method is not without its challenges.

Privacy concerns abound, as publishers struggle to provide consumers with adequate notice of data collection on the limited real estate of mobile device screens. Changes in Apple’s forthcoming iOS 8 to how users grant permission to use location data illustrate the development of approaches to cure these privacy issues.

iOS 8 will require publishers to specify whether they want permission to use location data
only while an application is active or also when the app is running in the background.
It will also require confirmation of permission days after receiving initial permission.
(Image Credit: ZDNet)

 Media buyers are equally concerned with ensuring that the location-data-enabled impressions they are paying a premium for include not just location data, but accurate location data. The concern that some publishers may be providing erroneous location data is widespread enough that the Mobile Marketing Association recently announced a working group to combat the issue. With the intention of partnering with the Media Rating Council (MRC), the working group hopes to promulgate enforceable standards for location data accuracy that can be audited to ensure the integrity of the data.

To allow our clients to connect with a precise group of consumers, Undertone offers innovative hyper-local targeting methods, including “Here Now” and “Here Frequently.” Just as Undertone ensures best practices when it comes to location data privacy (requiring consumer opt-in consent for all location-based impressions), Undertone and our supply partners also have measures in place to ensure the accuracy of location data.

These measures include:

  • Centroids: Publishers might use less precise location data points, such as zip code, to derive latitude/longitude (the center point of the zip code is often used, hence “centroid”). When we see a single precise location data point with unnaturally high volume, it is indicative of bad data and is ruled out.
  • Erroneous Device: When one device reports numerous different locations within seconds of each other, the data is ruled out.
  • Bad Apps: Data is ruled out for applications that have been identified as providing inaccurate location data.
  • Cross-Referencing Data: Precise location information is cross-referenced with less precise information to ensure data accuracy. For example, if IP address indicates a device is coming from a different zip code than the lat/long information indicates, the data is ruled out.

One caveat worth noting is that regardless of the measures taken to assure location data accuracy, hyper-local targeting is not the right approach for every campaign. When you use parameters to tailor the audience you are communicating with, the scale of that audience decreases. Furthermore, there are elements of the technology that are beyond the control of anyone other than device makers, such as how accurately the device itself reports location and how frequently that location updates.

Undertone is committed to working with clients to determine the campaign approach that’s right for them. Undertone’s in-house Compliance Team addresses issues such as consumer privacy, suspicious traffic, and location data accuracy, to ensure the integrity of the impressions we deliver and the brand safety of our clients.

For more information or this or any other privacy/compliance issue, please e-mail compliance@undertone.com or contact your account executive.

As a member of Undertone’s in-house Compliance Team, Andrew leads many of Undertone’s efforts regarding privacy and data collection/use. Andrew is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) and focused his legal studies on information privacy and Internet law. He received his Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School, cum laude, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from The College of New Jersey.


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