Plummeting Location Data Threatens Key Marketing Functions

The amount of available background or “always-on” location data has dropped significantly since the September 2019 launch of iOS 13, as 68% of its users have opted out of sharing that data, according to Location Sciences. 

iOS 13 offers users a clear, simple set of location data controls, paired with reminders of their choices. 

Less background location data impacts audience quality, including location-derived audiences (like QSR audiences); attribution confidence for footfall-based offers; multi-touch attribution; device graphs and dynamic creative optimization, among other marketing functions. 

The global location intelligence company analyzed more than 2 billion background location events of a U.K. app publisher, over a five-week period from Sept. 20 to Oct. 27 last year. 

The analysis also found a 24% decline in foreground location data, as more users limit access to their location while using apps, rather than automatically allowing access whenever they are using an app. 

Less foreground data has a direct impact on media quality and performance, according to the company.   

While operating system privacy updates are welcomed by many consumers, they definitely impact the quality and availability of location data for  marketing, says Jason Smith, chief business officer, U.S., Location Sciences. There has been “a noticeable decrease of already scarce, high-quality GPS data, as well as an increase in the use of poor-quality IP data,” he says. “This is driving a significant shift in media delivery across planning, measurement, audience development, and attribution.”  

Further, he notes that users who do not allow the sharing of both foreground and background location data will expect “an improved user experience” in exchange for their data.  

As overall access to accurate and privacy-compliant data decreases, marketers should be prepared for the cost of location marketing to increase, Smith warns.   

Because both iOS 13 and other privacy regulation will limit access to that accurate, privacy-compliant location data to a shrinking number of suppliers, he also advises marketers to require an independent, third-party audit of their location-reliant technology solutions to verify the solutions’ claims.   

In addition, because use of IP will continue to increase as GPS data decreases, he advises marketers to keep a close watch on IP — particularly its use within location-based marketing efforts and measurement.

Heavy or inaccurate use of IP can ripple through media delivery, personalized ad experience, audience segmentation and most importantly location analytics, he warns.

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