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PayPal to Connect Mobile Ads to In-Store Visits

Payment Company Has Partnered with Mobile Location Tracking Firm Placed

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If you visited a fast food joint or designer clothing chain, PayPal wants to know. The company has linked up with mobile location tracking firm Placed to connect the ads served through the PayPal ad network to real-world store visits.

Placed has a panel of around 125,000 app users who agree to have their mobile location data tracked in exchange for gift cards, contest entries and other goodies. In addition to tracing their movements through actual GPS and wi-fi data, the company surveys users to validate that location information, asking them which shops or eateries they've visited. Did they go to McDonald's or the Costco next door?

By inquiring specifically about business visits, and peppering a list of possible responses with intentionally false choices, Placed aims to validate location data that sometimes may be faulty. From there, the firm evaluates which consumer demographics under- or over-index for visiting particular businesses.

"Because you're in a panel we can ask you where were you Tuesday at 4pm," said Placed CEO David Shim. The company can also show clients which other businesses panel members visited. The company gathers 1,000 latitude and longitude coordinates per panel member each day, said Mr. Shim.

"We're able to actually understand who went to a store," said Sarah Hodkinson, head of Marketing for PayPal Media Network.

PayPal acquired mobile ad network Where, the precursor to its PayPal Media Network, in 2011. Today, the location-centric ad network layers in data on purchases made using PayPal for targeting. For instance, advertiser client 1-800-Flowers analyzed existing customers to determine an aggregated profile of its ideal customer based on the categories of places people shopped and patterns of purchases made with PayPal, then built models to find others in the PayPal network who fit the criteria.

The ad net also uses third-party data like flight information or weather reports. Based on flight delay data, a travel firm might geographically-target ads to people in certain airports.

Customers can use the PayPal mobile app for transactions in places including Home Depot and countless mom-and-pop stores and restaurants.

Though its clients have yet to employ it, PayPal can tie retailer data such as CRM data to mobile ads to determine whether someone actually made a purchase after being served an ad. In addition to connecting PayPal app purchases to its ad network ads, the company could link in-store purchases through an email address or another identifier captured at a store," said Ms. Hodkinson

"There's definitely a desire for retailers to do it, but not many of them are savvy enough," said Ms. Hodkinson regarding using CRM data for ad targeting.

When advertiser clients get PayPal reports, the information doesn't include personally-identifiable information, and is provided at an aggregated level, she said.

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