The ability of smartphones to send consumers’ locations to brands, linking up to marketing platforms, seems like a super-power – promising to make clear how an exposure to an ad can drive increased footfall to a particular store.

But, whilst few people are talking about it, the world of location advertising signals is also plagued with problems.

Beet.TV interviewed Jason Smith, chief business officer of Location Sciences, a company which runs verification on location data signals. Its just-published half-year report The State Of Location Advertising, analyzed 500 million digital location targeted impressions delivered in the UK and US from January-June 2019, and uncovered three worries:

  1. “On a given day across the location based digital advertising campaign, 65% of the impressions and spend in that advertising effort can be categorised as waste or fraudulent.”
  2. “As a result of privacy and we see things like iOS 13 (ITP) and the impending CCPA, we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in high-quality GPS signals, which represents where people are, where they exist and how they visit stores.”
  3. “Across all of the suppliers in the marketplace within this report, we’re seeing a massive differentiation between high quality suppliers that have really good data, target very well and an extreme long tail (of poor-quality signals).”

Location Sciences’ Verify tool purports to ascertain the accuracy of GPS, carrier IP, WiFi and beacon signals. But Smith says the industry is even starting to see the rise of fraudulent location signals.

“We see many sellers and many platforms replacing high quality GPS with low quality IP,” Smith says. “It’s widely available. It doesn’t cost very much and it’s much easier to detect.

“As a result, we see marketers targeting people that may have visited a McDonald’s, they may have visited a Cadillac dealership, they may have visited a Buffalo Wild Wings and the advertisements are inaccurate because they’re targeting people where they live, not where they are.

“That happens because of maybe just poor management of the campaigns, lack of inquiry from the brands, but in some cases, GPS signals can actually be presented as fraudulent. They’re all self-reported throughout applications across each of the app stores.”

This video is part of a series of interviews conducted during Advertising Week New York, 2019.  This series is co-production of Beet.TV and Advertising Week.   The series is sponsored by Roundel, a Target company.  Please see more videos from Advertising Week right here