Mobile Data Marketplace Creates Direct Path From App to Dollars

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Mobile app publishers are tethered to advertising as the primary revenue stream that keeps them afloat, but one company aims to create an even more direct line between mobile user data and dollars.

Mobile ad firm Airpush is set to launch its mobile data marketplace, where companies can purchase precise device location information, including beacon data, encrypted email addresses, device identifiers and information showing which apps phones have installed and how frequently they're accessed.

The idea is to give mobile app publishers a way to feed their data wares into a buying hub that could help them monetize the data generated when people open and interact with their apps, whether or not an ad is served into the app. Apps that include Airpush's updated software development kit, or SDK, will be able to distribute the so-called data exhaust created when people use their apps and turn it into revenue when it meets a buyer's criteria.

While the data flowing through the platform will not necessarily be used for immediate ad targeting, it could lead to ad targeting based on robust data compiled over time.

"It's all about building a rich profile of an end user or household that can take in various data sets, layer-in mobile data and online and offline data," said Seth Socolow, senior VP-strategic partnerships at Airpush.

The launch of Airpush's mobile data marketplace puts a new stake in the ground as mobile ad industry players push forth to turn data into dollars through an increasingly complex web of data sharing partnerships.

Airpush will include data from new partner Freckle IoT, a firm that aggregates device proximity data from multiple beacon data providers. Unlike some mobile location data such as lat-long coordinates that are not always credible, beacon data is derived from sensors placed in precise physical commercial locations in stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and even parks and other outdoor spaces. When beacon data associated with a particular device ID is compiled over time it can help form a vivid picture of someone's spending behavior.

"It's down to a few feet of where somebody actually was," said Mr. Socolow.

App publishers that implement the latest version of Airpush's technology will automatically enable access to Freckle's beacon-based attribution metrics, which measure whether people who were exposed to ads visited one of the advertiser's business locations.

"We're able to say, 'Hey, 27% of the people who actually saw the ad were actually in quick serve restaurants," said Neil Sweeney, founder of Freckle IoT.

The new version of the SDK also allows Airpush to track how regularly people actually open and interact with apps they have downloaded on their phones. The information might be employed to peg someone who often opens fitness apps as athletic, or someone who regularly opens financial apps as an avid investor.

None of the data collected by Airpush or available in its marketplace is personally identifiable, said Mr. Socolow. Like nearly all firms gathering and sharing mobile user data, the company considers its data to be collected through an opt-in process. Users are notified of data collection when downloading apps featuring its SDK, and are also shown a privacy notice mentioning Airpush specifically that details the types of data the company collects.

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