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Location Data Company Placed Raises $10 Million to Track Store Visits

Firm Will Use Cash Infusion to Hire More Engineering and Data Staff and Open NYC Office

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David Shim, Placed
David Shim, Placed

Placed, which tracks the movements of 175,000 people in the U.S. through their mobile devices, just scored $10 million in a series B funding round led by Two Sigma Ventures.

The company has added media firms and ad networks to its expanding client roster including Pandora, The Weather Channel, Rocket Fuel and InMobi. Madrona Venture Group is the only other investor in the current funding round.

Placed has a panel of around 175,000 app users who agree to have their mobile location data tracked in exchange for gift cards, contest entries and other goodies. The company gathers data on 175 million locations on daily basis from people who opt-in to apps it works with, according to David Shim, CEO of Placed.

The firm, headquartered in Seattle, plans to open a New York office next month in an incubation space in Soho that is already home to two other Two Sigma-fueled startups. Staff in the New York location will be "focused around supporting our partners" at agencies, brands and ad networks, said Mr. Shim.

The company also plans to use its cash infusion to hire more engineering and data science staff, aiming to grow from around 20 employees to 40 by the end of the year.

In addition to tracing their movements through actual GPS and wi-fi data, the company surveys users to ensure that location information is correct. By inquiring specifically about business visits, and peppering a list of possible responses with intentionally false choices, Placed validates location data that sometimes may be faulty. From there, it evaluates which consumer demographics under- or over-index for visiting particular businesses. The company can also show clients which other businesses panel members visited.

"If our model said you were at Walmart...the user will actually confirm where they were," said Mr. Shim.

Advertisers use reports from Placed to measure impact of their digital campaigns on real-world retail visits. Placed earlier this year partnered with PayPal to connect the ads served through the PayPal ad network to bricks-and-mortar store visits. Now, Pandora, RocketFuel, Weather and inMobi are partners offering attribution reports using Placed data.

Placed wants to be the de facto provider of mobile location data for ad campaign attribution, said Mr. Shim.

However, other mobile data collectors aim to do the same. For example, PlaceIQ uses satellite data to help clients such as Mazda understand more about shoppers who visit its dealerships. It ingests billions of data points referring to each of those areas, applying attributes to locations such as what type of business it is or the average household income of the area's population or people who frequent the location.

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