Mining Location Data For Consumer Insight

Last month, Google employee Lisa Gevelber wrote an article for the company’s “Think With Google” solution site discussing the value of location data from mobile search. Google, the largest player in search, has a phenomenal data set for understanding consumer intent -- which, analyzed in the context of location and time, can help marketers gain insight into consumers’ behavior and mindsets.  

While the application of these insights could be a geotargeted media strategy, Gevelber highlights ways in which advertisers are using geotemporal data to inform decisions around audience segmentation and creative strategy before a media plan is even crafted. For example, Gevelber prompts marketers to think about how data like regional variations in recipe searches might influence which menu items a restaurant chooses to feature in local promotions.

Mobile search is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to geotemporal data sets that can help advertisers better understand consumer behavior. Passive sources of geotemporal data can provide marketers with more granular insight into how consumers’ location behavior changes as they move about their day-to-day. Mobile devices are constantly communicating with cellular towers so that triangulation can be used to get an accurate position of a consumer at a point in time. Furthermore, many apps (including Google’s) are location-enabled and have passive location capabilities leveraging a mobile device’s GPS and motion sensors.

By analyzing such vast sources of geotemporal data, advertisers will be able to gain a more complete view of consumers’ real-world behavior. Understanding how location informs a singular behavior, like search, as Gevelber’s article highlights, is the first step. The next step, of course, is analyzing consumers’ location over time to uncover valuable patterns that speak to routine -- the holy grail of consumer insight.

People are not defined by a singular demographic trait, neither are they defined by a singular geographic location. Consumers may live in one location, and work in another, frequenting the same routes as they commute in between. They may visit certain restaurants during the week, and others on the weekend. They may travel for business or pleasure, even dwell in different locations during different seasons.

As advertisers dive into new and expansive sources of location data, it will be exciting to see how this knowledge of real-world behavior shapes the way brands understand and communicate with consumers.

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