There are some things in marketing land that are taken as a given — a TV slot during the Super Bowl, for example, is guaranteed to bag the top social media spot. 

But is it? This year, previously dominant brands such as Budweiser looked on in horror as American insurance company Esurance stole the show with an ad that launched before the game even started. After months of planning and up to $5 million spent on placements, big brands were left trailing behind as Esurance became the most mentioned company on Twitter. 

Proving that the tried and tested methods do not always equal success, the story is a reminder that assumption is no substitute for accurate data. Precise measurement of the impact advertising has on every channel — including mobile, TV, and out-of-home (OOH) — is vital to understanding current performance and informing the optimisation of future campaigns. Yet, mapping the interactions and conversions that arise from campaigns delivered across multiple channels and screens is notoriously difficult. 

So, how can marketers solve this dilemma and obtain the detailed, accurate attribution data they need? The answer is mobile location data. 

Mobile data and digital attribution

As the rise in connectivity drives an increase in the smart tech we carry with us, mobile has become an indispensable element of everyday life. 

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Forecast, mobile devices and connections grew to 7.3 billion worldwide last year, and by 2020 there will be 11.6 billion connected mobile devices in existence. 

For marketers, growing usage presents an opportunity to reach greater audiences and understand the complex, cross-channel path to purchase. Consequently, new tools have emerged to help marketers tie mobile data to digital interactions and conversions that take place across a myriad of screens. But the effect of marketing in the offline world has remained hard to measure — until now. 

The real-world applications of mobile insight

Mobile location data is not limited to measuring digital activity — in fact, it can form a vital link between the online world and the offline world. 

By adding a location footprint to mobile data, marketers can follow consumers from initial online browsing to the final in-store purchase. Yet this is only the first step towards truly effective attribution and data-driven marketing; the next is to gain a cohesive understanding of the impact ad campaigns have on every online and offline channel. 

Attribution and out-of-home

Just as location data has transformed targeting capabilities on mobile, it is now beginning to improve the relevance of OOH ads. Marketers are applying the location insights gathered from mobile usage to identify the best OOH locations for their target audience, and even serve dynamic digital creative. 

With access to more advanced mobile location data sets comes the ability to improve attribution accuracy for OOH campaigns. Ads on digital screens can be targeted to reach users at the right time and place to influence purchasing decisions, making their impact much easier to verify. Using location data, marketers can determine whether users who were detected passing OOH screens, later entered specific retail stores, highlighting the connection between ads and consumer activity.    

Attribution and TV

The applications of mobile location data in the real world are endless, and can even encompass long-established media channels such as TV. While the ability of TV advertising to engage consumers and boost brand awareness is unquestionable — the IAB states that 37% of consumers research products on a smartphone after seeing them on TV — its power to drive them into physical stores is less clear.

Emerging technologies, however, are able to track the interactions of TV viewers using the mobile activity inspired by TV ads, to identify individual users and determine whether campaigns have generated an increase in store visits. Measuring footfall with mobile-generated data takes TV attribution to a new level, allowing marketers to move beyond media schedules and use real-time ad detection to gauge the impact of TV ads across multiple channels.  

It’s true that success can never be absolutely guaranteed, but basing messaging on a strong foundation of data is the closest marketers can get. They must gain a comprehensive view of campaign performance — especially when they are targeting a range of channels. 

Mobile location data affords unparalleled insight into the complexities of the modern path to purchase, allowing marketers to map activity from online to offline channels and ensure messaging is always impactful. 

With the ability to unify and measure campaigns across the web, TV, traditional, and digital OOH screens, it enables marketers to pinpoint where their spend should be allocated and create the perfect media mix for their audience. As a talisman against the unexpected, an infinite store of knowledge, and a means to ensure consistently strong advertising performance, mobile location data really is the ultimate attribution solution.