Q&A—Factual's Ocean Fine: Data location key to bringing offline retail online

Shopper with smartphone
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Data location is a key component to connecting the online and offline worlds or retail. Although a majority of purchases are still made in stores, the ability of retailers to connect online for marketing initiatives are a crucial measure of success.

"Further, location data offers insight into customers’ real world behavior, helping marketers make informed decisions about targeting and messaging strategies," said Ocean Fine, VP of agency and strategic accounts at Factual. "The places we visit in the world are one of the strongest indicators of how we spend our time, our interests, and who we are and they are certainly one of the most important indicators of intent to purchase."

FierceRetail spoke with Fine to learn more how offline location signals can stretch a retailer's understanding of how to reach a customer across a blend of devices including mobile, desktop, connected TV, tablet, etc., and to convert her into the desired customer base.

FierceRetail: Why are some retailers not taking advantage of location data?

Fine: Quality, transparency, and a general lack of understanding about how to best leverage location data are among the top challengers for all marketers, including those in retail. Many providers bundle their data with media, making it difficult for marketers to fully understand the audiences they are reaching, uncover insights about them and measure results. 

Further, platforms like Google and Facebook often offer granular audience targeting, but no access to data about those audiences to use across other platforms. Location data is still a new source of data for many marketers. They are looking for opportunities to test, and learn from. Start simple, and count on the experts to guide you.

FierceRetail: Moving forward, will retailers without this location data be able to compete?

Fine: In order for marketers to create personalized, relevant shopping experiences, location data is absolutely necessary for them to understand their customers’ real world behavior and interests. Certainly, marketers who are leveraging location data at every opportunity to better understand and create more custom, personalized ways to interact with their customers will realize the advantages of leveraging this data in their results.

FierceRetail: Are there any retailers you can cite as an example who are harnessing this data successfully in 2018?

Fine: Factual has many great retail partners leveraging location data in a smart way. We work with several luxury retail brands that use our location data to precisely target people they know shop at high-end competitors, and whose real-world behavior shows they visit places in their leisure time that indicate they likely have discretionary budget to spend on high end items, like golf courses, yacht clubs, high end restaurants, spas and resorts...the list goes on.

Another smart, big-box, home-supply retailer uses location to target “DIY weekend warriors,” people we see regularly visiting home repair stores on the weekend, competitive paint stores, appliance centers, etc. Finally, one clever clothing retailer is driving weekend foot traffic to their store by targeting people with their messaging and delivering coupons when people are spending leisure time at coffee shops, parks, restaurants and other retailers that are within walking distance of their stores.

FierceRetail: What are the challenges that exist with collecting this data?

Fine: There’s a lot of data out there, and not all of it is good. Quality is a major concern for marketers, and it’s a primary differentiator for Factual. Our data comes from sources including premium publishers and tried and true partners, and we ensure we’re processing and using only highly accurate inputs.

FierceRetail: What does the future hold for location data?

Fine: As consumers spend more time on mobile devices, the insights we’ll be able to uncover from location data will only grow stronger. Expect to see location informing strategies beyond marketing campaigns, for things like store planning and design, competitive intelligence and logistics.