An Attribution Standard? IPG, Horizon, Digitas and Others Agree to Use One Firm

Standard Attribution Could Help Coax More Mobile Spending, Agencies Hope

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Credit: Bloomberg
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Location data firm Placed closed on deals with several media agencies recently, all of which have agreed to use its mobile measurement system as an attribution standard. Essence, Digitas, Horizon, Southwest Media Group, Crossmedia, and IPG Mediabrands are on board to use Placed's mobile location data as the go-to gauge for determining the impact of mobile advertising on store shopping visits.

For IPG, a standard means of measuring in-store attribution could mean more mobile ad spend, said Chad Stoller, partner at IPG Media Lab. "The inventory isn't keeping up with the pace of attention," he said, noting that a common currency for proving attribution to clients should foster more confidence in mobile advertising among IPG clients.

Placed has a rapidly-growing panel of around 500,000 app users who agree to have their mobile location data tracked in exchange for gift cards, contest entries and premium app services; that's up from around 175,000 in June 2014. The Seattle company gathers data on millions of locations each day from people who opt-in to its partner apps.

In addition to tracing their movements through actual GPS and wi-fi data, the company surveys users to ensure that location information is correct. Placed inquires specifically about business visits and adds intentionally-false choices to lists of responses to validate 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.

In the end, Placed can reveal correlations among people who frequent certain stores, showing that, for example, Black Friday Kohl's shoppers are more likely also to visit J.C. Penney. Such information is available via Placed's Insights platform, which is accessible to all employees of the recently-signed partner agencies.

PayPal aligned with Placed last year to connect the ads served through its PayPal mobile ad network to real-world store visits.

The growth of the Placed opt-in mobile panel has been strategic, according to Placed CEO David Shim, and in part aimed towards diversifying the types of consumer segments represented. The firm has been "spending more money to bring people in the door," he said, noting that Placed now has 50 mobile app partners that offer users premium services in exchange for allowing location data tracking. Placed is "looking for niche apps," he said, such as apps designed for moms or business travelers, in order to expand the panel into key audiences.

Now, the attribution-measurement partner agencies must ensure staff uses the Placed data in reports. "We actually identified the need that we have to start working with client teams," said Mr. Stoller.

Added Mr. Shim, "There's a level of education and training that needs to occur."