The Fall of Third-Party Data: Why First-Party Data Reigns Supreme

The Fall of Third-Party Data: Why First-Party Data Reigns Supreme

demise of third-party data. For one thing, this form of data collection doesn’t always provide the most accurate picture of a consumer. Simply put, the tools used for these purposes often get it wrong.

While one service might claim that a particular individual is a woman in her 30s who has no children and rents her home, a different data collection company may maintain that the same individual is male in his 50s who has children and owns his home. Specifically, different vendors tend to have very different findings relating to age and gender — which is a huge problem for the marketers who purchase this information.

The companies that gather this information don’t have a lot of incentive to get the information right. That, combined with the immense pressure marketers feel to move the needle, ends up hurting the brand. In the end, this practice wastes time, money, and resources. 

It also presents problems for consumer security. Regulatory legislation has been put into place to give consumers more control over how their personal information is used, while some of the biggest tech companies in the world (like Google and Apple) are now restricting how third-party cookies can be used in web browsers. Combined with the increasing number of data breaches many companies are facing, it’s no wonder that this technique is no longer preferred.

The Enduring Importance of First-Party Data

This is where first-party data collection comes in. It’s the obvious choice — not just because it can be performed by the brands themselves but because consumers will know when their data is being collected. Those factors might have once been a deterrent, but they’re now a major selling point.

First-party data can be collected with far more accuracy. When retailers collect this information directly from the consumer, it’s much easier to verify whether the information is precise and that the method for collecting that data is reliable. While it may take more effort on the part of the brand to collect this data, that effort will pay off in its marketing campaigns. Being able to target the right customers the first time will result in less waste, more conversions, and improved customer experience. 

Not only does first-party data collection factor in compliance regulations, but it also provides a way to build a relationship with a customer. Instead of obtaining customer data through subversive means, a brand can be upfront about its intentions — while also providing something of value to the customer.

For instance, signing up for an email list with the promise of an order discount clearly provides something of value in exchange for data. The same can be said for loyalty and affiliate programs, giveaways, and other techniques. 

Although first-party data collection might have once been viewed as basic, most experts would now agree that it’s a vital part of advertising and marketing in the digital age. In order to ensure your campaigns are relevant, compliant, and effective, first-party data provides a simple solution that can set your brand up for success.

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Best Time to Run Facebook Ads? Look at Your Own Data

Best Time to Run Facebook Ads? Look at Your Own Data

Over 86% of marketers in the U.S. advertise on Facebook, and it’s easy to see why. 74% of Facebook users visit the site at least once a day, and more than half of them visit it multiple times a day.

So the question isn’t if you should run ads on Facebook, but when is the best time to run ads on Facebook. If you run a great campaign at the wrong time, it’s like putting up a beautiful billboard on a freeway that doesn’t get any traffic.

best time to run ads on facebook billboard

But finding out when to run Facebook ads isn’t as simple as we’d like it to be.

In the post, we will look at how to choose the best times to run Facebook ads for your business. Plus, we will cover the types of Facebook ads available, the best way to budget your ad campaigns, and how to track their progress.

What is the best time to run Facebook ads?

Let’s get this out of the way: There is no one ideal time to run Facebook ads. If there were, the answer would be apparent, and this post would be over before it has even begun.

Most marketers have heard recycled, anecdotal wisdom. Things like, “It’s best to run your ads on the weekend when most people are at home,” or “Run your ads during the early evening after people get home from work but before they eat dinner.”

But remember, the plural of anecdote isn’t data. Just because a specific time slot worked for one business doesn’t mean it’ll work for yours.

So should you run Facebook ads on the weekend?

There is a ton of data online from companies sharing when they’ve had the most successful ad campaigns.

It might look a little something like this:




Consumer Goods

Wednesday noon and Friday at 1 p.m. 

Friday at 3 p.m.


Weekdays between noon and 6 p.m.

Thursday and Friday at 2 p.m. 


Weekends between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Monday at 7 p.m.


Weekdays between 10 a.m. and noon

Weekdays at 5 p.m.

Now, this might look clean and accurate, but it’s likely oversimplified and potentially misleading.

But if you took this table to heart and you were selling socks, you might be tempted to run an ad at 3 p.m. on a Friday. But what if Friday at 3 p.m. is wrong for your ad and your business?

The issue with this approach to running Facebook ads is that you aren’t getting granular enough with your company’s valuable data.

You want to run your Facebook ads at the right time for your target audience. This strategy isn’t new to online advertising—you wouldn’t run TV commercials aimed at high-income full-time employees during the workday. And you wouldn’t run the commercial on the cartoon channel—which brings us to our main point:

Run your Facebook ad with your ad’s intent and your audience insights in mind.

Use analytics to find the best time to run your Facebooks ads

Okay, so we want you to use your data to create, schedule, run your next Facebook ad campaign. But where do you start?

best time to run facebook ads use analytics


Well, the first three things you’ll want to use are:

  1. Facebook Analytics: Check to see which of your posts have been getting the most engagement. While engagement doesn’t necessarily correlate to conversions, it does give you a benchmark of when users are interacting with your posts. You can also use Facebook Analytics for a wide variety of other metrics that can help you create the most effective ad campaigns possible.
  2. Facebook Pixel: A pixel is a snippet of code that allows you to track conversions on Facebook (as you define the term) and shows the value of your ads. Using the Facebook Pixel helps you see your actual conversion rate.
  3. Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a great tool, especially if you’re newer to Facebook ads. If you haven’t collected a significant amount of data on Facebook (or other social media platforms), use Google Analytics to mine your website’s data. While website data isn’t the same as social media data, it can still provide you with insight. For example, check the pageview rate of your “thank you page” (or whatever page you have set up to appear after a customer has made an actionable decision) to see when most of your customers are converting.

Using these three tools will give you a solid foundation for determining the best time to run Facebook ads for your business.

But you might be asking yourself how to run a successful Facebook ad and how to schedule those successful ads once you’ve nailed down the best time for your company.

How do I run a good Facebook ad?

That’s a fair question.

When you start creating an ad, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What is the primary goal of the ad? Is the ad trying to get someone to your product page or e-mail sign up page? Are you a B2B company looking to get professionals scheduled for a demo?
  2. Who is the target audience? Knowing your target audience helps guide the entire ad process, from ideation to scheduling.

Below is an example of two ads run by the same company at the same time. While the ads are run by the same company and at the same time, they have different goals and a different audience

best time to run facebook ads different goals different audience

Image Source

You can see that while the ads are similar; they are trying to elicit a different emotional response from the user.

The ad on the left (Ad A) uses the “Learn More” button. The copy is going after the pain of saving time, but is doing so more generically.

The ad on the right (Ad B) uses the “Sign Up” button. It is more blatantly asking viewers to sign up for its service. That’s why its copy is more pointed. It tells, in short sentences, the features and the benefits.

With Ad A and Ad B, you can see Quickbooks is testing if catering towards more specific pain-points translates to a higher CTR when combined with the “Sign Up” button.

Creating a Facebook ad checklist

  1. Did you segment your target audience? You can create custom audiences or further segment by location, gender, behaviors, connections, and interests.
  2. Does your copy go with your image? You’d think this be a given, but don’t forget users are scrolling through content when they see your ad. You want them to get a unified post that, with the copy and the image, conveys the key message.
  3. Do you have a clear CTA? Is your ad promoting a product at 20% off or is it trying to get a customer to sign up for a weekly newsletter? Spoiler: It can’t be both.

For more information on creating successful Facebook ads, check out our post on 10 Easy Facebook Marketing Ideas.

What kind of Facebook ads should I be running?

There isn’t just one type of Facebook ad, and not all ad types have the same goal.

best time to run facebook ads ad types

You can choose from lots of different ad types, but here’s what I recommend most often:

  • Facebook video ads: Millions of videos are watched on Facebook every day, making Facebook video ads a great way to reach your customers. Most data supports that if a video is 15 seconds or less, it gets watched by a user to the end.
  • Facebook carousel ads: Display multiple products or multiple features in a carousel fan, allowing the user to swipe through images.
  • Facebook canvas ads: Use several ad types (video ads + single image ads + carousel ads) all at once. Note: This ad type is exclusive to mobile.
  • Facebook lead ads: Use lead ads for lead generation. Get your customers to sign up for a newsletter, claim a deal, or request a follow-up call all without leaving Facebook.

Running the right kind of ad will depend on what it is you’re trying to accomplish.

Should I schedule my Facebook ads?

You’ve taken a look at the available data. Your ad is engaging and something that would resonate with your audience. It’s ready to post then, right?

Not so fast. Facebook ad scheduling can have a significant impact on your ROI.

Daily budget vs. lifetime budget

The first (and simplest) question is: Should I use daily budget or lifetime budget for my campaign?

best time to run facebook ads daily budget

A daily budget is easy to set up, and it tells Facebook to only spend up to X dollars per day. So each day, you know exactly how much money you’re spending. And, if you’re planning on changing the budget on a given campaign, daily budgets give you flexibility. However, on this budget, we’ve seen that Facebook works to spend the entire daily budget even if performance is low.

Here is what we mean: Facebook will do what it needs to do to make up your daily allotted ad spend, even if it isn’t in your best interest.

The most significant drawback, however, is that with daily budgeting, there is no option for ad scheduling. As we discussed above, not every hour in the day is created equal. If you’re looking to optimize your ad’s performance, based on the data collected through Facebook Insights and Google Analytics, a daily budget isn’t the tool you need.

Using a lifetime budget means you give Facebook an approved budget, and you choose the date the ad set should end on. The budget gets used up before that date, though not necessarily evenly across each day.

But flexibility is a double-edged sword. By using the perks of a lifetime budget, you also sign up for budgets that change daily. Facebook will use ad performance to justify increases and decreases to daily spend.

How long does it take to see results from Facebook ads?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Facebook reviews your ad before it is published. Facebook just wants to make sure your ad isn’t in violation of its Advertising Policies. Facebook says they review most ads within 24 hours.

After Facebook approves the ad, it goes live (per the scheduled time you set).

From there, you can use Facebook Ad Manager to track key metrics. Just narrow down the dashboard by campaigns, and filter through CTR, cost per conversion, and other KPIs.

For more information, check out our cheat sheet to making effective Facebook Ads.

Look at your data for the best time to run Facebook ads

It’s tempting to want to find what are the best times to run Facebook ads for other businesses. And, if you don’t have any data of your own, that might be the place to start. But if you’ve been doing digital marketing and have data to use, it’s best to use it.

By taking insights from Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics, you can set parameters on when is the best time to run Facebook ads for your business.

Of course, it’s a process. Track and monitor your progress. Set up A/B testing. Make sure your copy is persuasive and written to convert.

Use our Facebook Ads Performance Grader to see if your Facebook ad campaigns are fully optimized (scheduled to run at the right time, using the right CTAs, and more).

We will tell you how you stack up against the competition, highlight key opportunities for increased ROA, and show you any audiences you may be missing with your social media campaigns.

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Bing’s COVID-19 tracker filters data, news and video by region

Bing’s COVID-19 tracker filters data, news and video by region

Bing’s COVID-19 tracker filters data, news and video by region – Search Engine Land

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How to Use SEO Data to Make Better Marketing Decisions

How to Use SEO Data to Make Better Marketing Decisions

As marketers, we know that search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary. It helps webpages rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs). After all, 67% of all clicks go to the first five organic search results on Google.

So for traffic, SEO is a must.

But have you ever considered using SEO practices for, say, informing marketing decisions? Or creating networking opportunities?

Download Now: Free SEO Starter Pack

Only using SEO for traffic purposes is closing the door to different ways you can use the skills you already have to inform decisions in other areas. To get an idea of the different ways to use SEO, we’re going to explain the types of SEO data, and a short list of how SEO data can lead to better marketing decisions.

Types of SEO Data

  • Organic traffic — Organic traffic refers to the visitors that come to a website from the search engine results as opposed to paid ads. Organic traffic is important because it indicates whether or not your website has the answer to search queries that audiences are looking for.
  • Organic impressions — Impressions are when digital content appears on the screen of the user, and organic impressions are when that happens without a paid ad. Impressions don’t suggest the user took action, but does suggest how far your reach is.
  • Organic rankings — You might have noticed that Google ranks ads at the top of SERPs, and more rankings below. The rankings below those ads are organic, meaning they are what Google ranks your content based on how well it answers search queries.
  • Keyword monthly search volume — Keyword monthly search volume is representative of the number of searches a keyword has over the course of a month. It represents how much interest there is in a particular keyword. You can measure MSV by region, but also globally. For example, a keyword can have 100 MSV in the U.S., 900 MSV worldwide.
  • Number of backlinks — A backlink is the hyperlink on one webpage that links to another site. The number of backlinks your website has is important because it increases your chances of ranking highly on Google.
  • Number of referring domains — These are websites that do the backlinking. So, for example, if you were to backlink this post to your site, then your site would have one referring domain. If you backlinked another post from another website, then you would have two. Referring domains can go up by the number of websites, but not the number of times a website was backlinked.
  • Page speed (in milliseconds) — Page speed is determined by the amount of time it takes for a webpage to load. It’s determined by a multitude of different factors, such as file size and image compression. Page speed is important to SEO because a slow speed could cause a visitor to leave the site.

How SEO Data Can Help the Business

We’ve defined the types of SEO data that you can come across and use in different ways. In this section, we’re going to explain how the different components of SEO can positively impact business and marketing decisions.

1. Use search volume to guide product naming & branding.

Are you struggling to name your product in a way that will attract a large audience? Have your past few product launches not produced the results you were hoping for? Try using search volume to guide how you name and brand future products.

As I mentioned above, search volume refers to the number of times a search term is used by the public, and is usually presented in a per-month format. If you test the search volume of terms related to your product, you’ll be able to develop a name that reflects the types of words and phrases the public already uses to describe your service.

For instance, if you’re launching an online running apparel store, optimizing your product pages around the term “jogging shorts” won’t reach as big an audience as “running shorts,” because it’s likely that more search volume is going to the latter term.

You would want to name the product using language that has the most search volume. Following the search volume ensures that you’ll name the product in a way that aligns with how the public is referring to it.

2. Organizing your keyword strategy by interest level.

Every stage in the buyer’s journey is different, and because of that, search queries will differ based on which stage the customer is in.

Let’s look at an example of catering to the buyer’s journey using SEO.

The search query “what is inbound marketing” is most likely used by someone who is early into their journey, and still learning about the concept of inbound marketing. Alternatively, the query “inbound marketing software” suggests that person is already looking for a tool to solve their problem, and that they’re in a much later-stage of their purchase decision.

If you organize keywords by buyer’s journey stages, you’ll be able to develop a strategy that delivers the best experience to the customer. You can also analyze the traffic from these keywords to see how well your business is performing in the different buyer’s journey stages.

3. Use collected data to create a strategy that caters to the customer.

When you collect traffic data from your website, are you using it to see how you can improve the customer experience? SEO data can be used to assess how specific areas of your overall content strategy can be improved.

For instance, if you’ve noticed that you’re driving high traffic numbers on a content offer page — an ebook or webinar, for example — but aren’t noticing much conversion to the offer itself, that could be an indicator that your consideration-stage buyers aren’t finding their experience on your page useful.

Sort your content by topic, such as the buyer’s journey stage or content type, and analyze the traffic of pages related to those topics. This will give you an idea of how you can optimize your content so it performs well at any stage of the buyer’s journey.

4. Use organic rankings to find and understand competition.

You can use organic ranking to see how your product or content compares to your competitors. Not every business depends on a search engine to acquire customers, but even if you don’t, seeing how your competitors rank for search terms related to your industry can tell you what they’re doing that’s working. So, when you Google your product, where does your business fall on the SERP as opposed to others? If there are websites ranking above yours, try doing a quick crawl.

Think about how the website’s content might be valuable to customers, and how you can improve your content to convey messages in a way that resonates with them.

Note how competitors’ websites are different than yours. Are the webpages quick to load? Do the webpages rank for keywords that you don’t even show up for?

These are small technical changes that have a large impact on SEO. Loading time and keywords are two SEO factors that contribute to overall user experience and SERP rank. You may be able to pull inspiration that solves two problems at once by reviewing what high-ranking competitors are doing to see if they’re offering a type of information that you’re not.

5. Use backlink data to identify networking opportunities.

Maybe there’s a specific topic you feel like you could write an expert blog post about. Identify keywords about that topic. If the keyword you find matches the intent of your target audience but the content would compete with some of your other website content, don’t scrap the idea.

Instead, reach out to similar websites in the industry and inquire about a guest post or guest contributor space. That way, your work will still be seen by the right audience, and you can drive traffic to your website.

Use SEO metrics like backlinks to figure out which sites are already citing you in their own content, and then identify which domains are backlinking to them. This is a great way to hunt around for partners with whom you might want to guest post or even run a co-marketing campaign.

Keyword research tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Serpstat, Conductor, Moz, and more allow you to find backlink data on all of the pages on your website, making this prospecting process easy.

Contributing a guest post also begins a relationship with another business in the industry. This connection can be useful for future collaborations, and helps you build backlinks to your website from the sites you’re contributing to. Remember, backlinks are a critical ranking factor in the eyes of Google.

Similarly, if you find there’s a topic you think would be great on your blog but don’t have the resources/time to write it, you can reach out to an industry professional to contribute. That way, you won’t lose the chance for your website to rank highly on the SERP, you still build an industry relationship, and it gives your business more credibility. (Also, it’s not a bad cross-promotion idea to fit into your social media content strategy).

SEO can’t solve every job function, but it can lead to more informed marketing decisions. When you use data, like search volume, you can begin to make content that’s more personalized for the customer. Additionally, you can cater to the customer experience at every level, and make sure your campaigns stay relevant.

The next time you find yourself stuck with branding, content ideas, or understanding your customer, think about how SEO can help with your challenge.


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The data behind incrementality on Amazon

The data behind incrementality on Amazon

Every marketer worth their salt is concerned about incrementality. Companies have, and should be, reevaluating their budgets, channels and service providers based on the ability to drive sales from advertising that they wouldn’t have captured otherwise.

When it comes to Amazon, this issue is particularly important, because current SERPs can naturally cannibalize an otherwise organic sale with an ad for the same product that shows up prior to the organic result. For marketers, the key to managing this issue and driving incremental sales is through a combination of segmented bidding strategies for brand, category, and competitor key terms, contextualizing Advertising Cost of Sale metrics, and proper campaign structure.

The non-incremental trap of branded keywords

Each of the larger term segments – branded, generic, and competitor – needs to be thought of in terms of the consumer’s place in the purchase funnel:

  • Brand keywords capture shoppers deepest in your purchase funnel
  • Competitor keywords capture shoppers that are deep in someone else’s purchase funnel
  • Category keywords capture shoppers at the top of your purchase funnel 

On Amazon, when a user searches for some variation on a brand name, the A9 algorithm generally does whatever it can to surface as many of those brand’s products as possible on that search page. That includes both top sellers, which will get the top organic placements, along with the long tail, which will occupy spots further down the page. Amazon takes the intent of the user – “I want to see products from this brand” – very seriously. This is borne out in the underlying data – it is much, much harder to rank organically on a category term, as compared to a branded term, as seen in the examples below.

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This shows why it’s a real challenge for your brand’s keywords to be incremental. It’s almost guaranteed that your relevant products will show up organically on the SERP – with your top sellers showing up high in the results. Additionally, consumers are more likely to click on the top few results of a branded search, as compared to generic searches.

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The biggest takeaway here is that advertising your top products on your own branded terms is a particularly bad practice. You’re capturing sales via paid placements you were likely to capture organically anyway. If brand defense is imperative, consider advertising new or longer-tail products on your branded terms instead. That way you’re defending your brand term, but you’re doing so by helping to sell products that aren’t yet ranking well organically, while still not cannibalizing sales of your top products.

Maximizing sales across category and competitor terms

In terms of incrementality, nothing is better than capturing a sale from your competitor. However, you’re likely to find that the ACoS of competitor keywords is significantly worse than that of generic or category keywords, as shown in the example below.

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The best strategy here depends a lot on your competitive landscape. Conquesting your competitor’s terms means having a deep understanding of the terms which you can reasonably bid against successfully. Terms relating to stronger competitors with deeper brand loyalty/recognition may necessitate a less aggressive strategy to control costs, while it may be well worth your while to bid forcefully against terms related to relatively weak competitors where it’s easier to pick off customers with your top products.

As opposed to branded terms, the universe of category keywords is understandably the largest on Amazon, with new relevant terms developing over time. In this larger and more dynamic environment, it’s important that you set bids based on the expected conversion rate of a given term.

A screenshot of a cell phone

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The issue here, which I’ve written about in a previous column, is that over 90% of category keywords do not get more than one click per day, given a constant bid. Additionally, with roughly 80 clicks being necessary to get a confident estimate of the true conversion rate of a given keyword, running this test could take nearly two and half months. Meanwhile, conversion rates change roughly every month – as one extreme example, think of the expected conversion rate for “easter candy” in April versus May or June.

To succeed with category keywords you must have an exploration strategy that values the rate of data acquisition. At my current workplace, we use a probalistic binary search model, that adjusts bids from very high to low in order to more quickly determine the expected conversion rate.

Outside of this more refined statistical method, what marketers can do to better find and exploit meaningful keywords on Amazon is deploy a more granular campaign structure. Because keywords define audience segments, each audience segment needs a different set of considerations in terms of aggressiveness and expectations.

A screenshot of a cell phone

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To spell this out, brand keyword campaigns should have high ROAS expectations, focus on emerging products, and get tested for incrementality. Competitor keyword campaigns should have the lowest ROAS expectations and focus on launching and dominant products. Finally, Category keyword campaigns should be expected to give you a break-even ROAS and must be handled with a strong exploration strategy. These overarching themes are important to keep in mind as you scale your marketing efforts on Amazon because they are critical to driving incremental sales growth.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Andrew Waber is the director of insights at retail optimization platform (ROP) provider Teikametrics. In his current role, Andrew manages the analysis, editorial direction and strategy for Teikametrics’ reporting on online retail advertising and the larger online retail marketplace. Prior to his time at Teikametrics, Andrew served as the manager of data insights and media relations at Salsify, the manager of market insights and media relations for advertising automation software provider Nanigans, and as the market analyst and lead author of reports for Chitika Insights, the research arm of the Chitika online ad network. Andrew’s commentary on online trends has been quoted by the New York Times, Re/Code and The Guardian, among other outlets.

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2020 New Year's Resolution: No Social Media, No Cellular Data

2020 New Year's Resolution: No Social Media, No Cellular Data

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How to Visualize Data With Google Data Studio

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How to Visualize Data With Google Data Studio

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Brent Csutoras

How to Use Location Data to Outsmart Competitors & Win Market Share

While location-based marketing is widely practiced, understanding and effectively using location-based audiences remains a challenge for small to mid-sized agencies and brands.

Digital marketers are faced with a myriad of tools, jargon, and technology that makes what should be a straightforward process more complex than necessary.

On February 12, I moderated a sponsored Search Engine Journal presented Dan Dillon, VP of Marketing at Reveal Mobile.

Dillon shares tips on how marketers can use location data to acquire new customers and steal market share from competitors.

Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.

How to Use Location Data to Outsmart Competitors & Win Market Share

Who Cares About Location-Based Marketing?

If you think for a minute about the wide range of marketing strategies, tactics, and technologies, it gets pretty dizzying pretty fast.

It’s a great time to be a digital marketer, and it’s also one of the hardest times to be a digital marketer.

The pressure is on to deliver pipeline and revenue, so there’s also pressure to choose the best methods for driving sales.

The data shows just how effective location-based marketing is at doing that.

  • Mobile Marketer tells us that nearly 90% of us use location data in campaigns.
  • eMarketer research shows that we’re increasing our investment in location-based advertising 40% year over year. This makes it one of the fastest-growing marketing tactics for consumer and retail segments.

Location data and location-based advertising have definitely come into their own. Marketers know a good thing when we see one, and location data is the gift that keeps on giving.

Key Terms in Location-Based Marketing

Before diving into the topic, let’s cover some key terms and provide some useful context into location-based advertising.


Geofencing is one of the most searched keywords by digital marketers looking to do location-based marketing.

It involves creating a virtual barrier around a physical location. This can either be a radius around a large location or a polygon around a specific building or store footprint.

Here’s an example of a polygon around a Publix grocery store.

geofencing example

You can see how this level of accuracy enables you to run a very different kind of geotargeting campaign from the targeting you can do on Google Ads.

Geofencing also refers to advertising when someone enters that virtual barrier. A targeted audience member may receive an alert, a push notification, or an ad within a mobile app-based upon their location.

Geofencing is actually the most prevalent tactic in location-based advertising, accounting for nearly 50% of all location-based marketing.


Geotargeting refers to delivering ads to people who have visited a specific location. This might involve serving ads for organic groceries to people who have recently been to Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Sprouts.


Geoconquesting refers to advertising to people who were previously in a competitor’s location with the intention of winning them away from that competitor.

An example of this might involve advertising Chick-Fil-A’s new sandwich to people who recently visited KFC, Church’s, Popeyes, and Wendy’s.

This is by far one of the most valuable and underutilized methods of location-based marketing, something you should try out with your next campaign.

Best Fits for Location-Based Marketing

There are typically three main segments of businesses that are the best fit for location-based marketing.

1. Have Multiple Retail Locations

Such as:

  • Retailers & Franchises
  • Auto Dealers
  • Food & Dining

2. Run Seasonal or Special Events


  • Events & Concerts
  • Travel & Hospitality
  • Major Sports

3. Want Audiences That Visit Specific Retail Locations

Such as:

  • Ecommerce – Find shoppers that visit their retail competitors.
  • CPG Brands – Find shoppers that visit stores where their products are carried.

How Location-Based Marketing Works

Let’s take a quick look at how location-based marketing works, starting with how location data is best sourced and how it flows to you as a marketer.

The vast majority of location-based marketing is powered by opted-in GPS data.

When a person opts-in to share their location with a mobile app, the latitude/longitude data gathered from that app is what powers your ability to target them based on their location.

GPS data is the most accurate and has the most meaningful scale.

So the process looks like this:

How Location-Based Marketing Works

GPS data is ingested, aggregated and anonymized to prevent the identification of individuals and make sure the data is clean. This ensures the data is privacy compliant.

Next, the data is matched to places – a retail business, a venue, an auto dealership, what have you.

This is one of the most critical steps in the process, as it requires up-to-date business information – keeping track of which stores open and close, categorizing them correctly – as well as keeping up-to-date footprints of buildings in order to be able to know what devices show up there.

The next step, which is optional, is data enrichment. This might involve appending demographic or behavioral insights to the location data. This is done with a customer data platform or some other piece of the martech stack.

Then we get to the three core elements of location-based marketing: analytics, audiences, and attribution.

The analytics piece enables you to understand your target audiences based on where they shop, how often they shop at those places, how far they travel to get there, etc.

This lets you get smarter about your potential ad spend. Once you understand these things, you want to have a method for building location-based audiences to market to.

This is most easily done via a user interface that you can log into directly, enabling you to self-serve and get precisely the audiences you want.

You’ll then want to be able to push those audiences to a DSP or a social ad platform so you can serve ads and drive activations.

Lastly, you’ll want to be able to understand how your ads performed. That’s the attribution piece, showing you who among your audience went to the retailer you’re advertising or visiting the location you want your audience to visit.

It could be an amusement park, a concert, a coffee shop, or anything in between.

Location-Based Marketing & Privacy

We can’t talk about location-based marketing without talking about privacy. All of the location data you use must be privacy compliant.

The hallmarks of privacy, when you go looking for a location-based marketing vendor, are:

  • Honoring all OS opt-outs
  • De-identified, aggregated data sets – which means specific individuals cannot be singled out from an audience
  • CCPA compliant

You’ll also want to ask about the vendor’s involvement in privacy advocacy and working groups:

  • IAB Transparency & Consent Framework Vendor Registry
  • IAB Public Policy Committee
  • Mobile Marketing Association Privacy Committee
  • Future of Privacy Forum members
  • Privacy Shield Framework

Geotargeting & Geoconquesting Case Studies

Reach & Win Over Moe’s Diners

Moe’s wanted to geotarget and geoconquest to reach existing Moe’s diners and win over new customers.

Their goal was to:

  • Drive downloads of Moe’s app and coupon redemption.
  • Increase foot traffic to restaurants.
  • Win over customers going to competitive locations.

To do this, they decided to:

  • Advertise across social media.
  • Use custom audiences on Facebook.

To find their audience, they geofenced:

  • Their own visitors to Moe’s.
  • Direct competitors, such as:
  • Indirect competitors.
    • Mexican Restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina area.

Overall, they were looking at an audience of about 20,000 individuals. Facebook matched 85% of this audience (17,000).

And so they were able to market to 17,000 existing and potential diners.

As a result of that campaign, what they saw was a 67% increase in app download conversions, as well as an increase in customer loyalty.

Using Custom Audiences to Reach Elvis Fans

Sony Music, which has a massive catalog of Elvis Presley music, released a posthumous album titled “Where No One Stands Alone” which was composed of 14 original songs.

Sony wanted to find Elvis fans to promote it so decided to run a campaign with the goal of driving awareness, sales, and streams of the new album.

In addition to messaging the new album through their email newsletter, they also built a location-based audience, visitors to Graceland, over an extended period.

The thinking was that if you’d visited Graceland, then you’re likely a huge Elvis fan.

The audience size of Graceland visitors was about 13,000.

This location-based audience was imported to Facebook as a custom audience, and Facebook matched 88% of this audience to their user base.

Ads were served to this audience on Facebook’s website and mobile app.

As a result, the ad reached 55% of the audience in one week.

Their CPM cost was 35% higher due to the highly targeted audience, however, it was 20% lower than their email list targeting.

Overall, they gained 527 clicks with a 1.7% CTR, plus the ads were shared 30 times.

Which Location-Based Marketing Option Should You Choose?

Before you decide which path is appropriate for you, decide on what you’re trying to accomplish.

What to choose should line up with your goals– whether those are brand goals, business goals, client goals, campaign goals, etc.

How to Use Location Data to Outsmart Competitors & Win Market Share

Ad Platforms

We all use the major platforms for advertising. The nice thing about Google Ads and Facebook is that they’re free and everybody uses them.

But when it comes to using them, getting support and managing campaigns can be cumbersome.

When it comes to customization, it’s not possible to get highly targeted audiences. You can’t get the audiences that described in the above case studies.

You can geotarget a city or a state but you just can’t get down to a store or a chain store level with Google Ads or  Facebook.

In the end, they really enable more of a spray-and-pray approach to location-based marketing.

Audience Marketplaces

These are platforms that enable you to get a geo-targeted audience based on general characteristics of an audience. For instance:

  • Coffee drinkers.
  • Golfers.
  • Moviegoers.
  • Etc.

These are the demographic consistencies among an audience, but you really can’t get more specific than that. Not a lot of customization occurs with these audience marketplaces.

They’re very easy to access. You can sign on and pull audiences out quickly and your cost is going to be variable depending on what audiences you choose.

You’re also generally going to be required to spend a minimum on media. Often, to get to those audiences, you have to commit a specific number per month on media spend.

Thus, you’re pretty locked in if you have this option you’re pretty locked into using that platform and your cost is going to be variable and harder to predict.

Location-Based Marketing Software

Location-based marketing software providers are where you find a nice intersection of easy-to-use and also a high level of customization.

This option is going to allow you to geo-target down to the store level. You can also get a look-back period for whatever time you’d like.

You can also get creative here and find very specific audiences.

For example, an auto dealership might want to geo-target their audience made up of people who visited their lots and dealerships only in the last seven days – knowing that car buyers who are ready to buy show up on a lot with a check in hand.

There are very specific use cases for this kind of software that are just not able to be accommodated in other platforms.

You’re also going to have a predictable cost for this option so you can budget easily.

If you’re an agency, you can event pass this cost on to clients in the form of retainer or monthly fees or in marking up media.

Questions to Ask Yourself to Ensure Optimal Campaign Performance


  • Are you verifying that audiences are opted-in and privacy compliant?
    • What to look for:
      • CCPA compliance
      • Data source type – GPS
      • Vendor honors location sharing opt-outs
      • No personally identifiable information (PII)
  • Is the device data time-stamped?
    • What to look for:
      • Vendor assigns and provides time stamps for all events captured per device.
      • Vendor provides time stamps as part of data feed.
      • Advertiser can build audiences for custom time periods and look-back windows.
  • What is the scale of your device data?
    • What to look for:
      • Number of Daily Average Users (DAUs) – this number serves as a baseline for the number of mobile users you’ll be able to build an audience from
      • Events per Device – this number serves as a baseline for the depth of data on each device. The more events per device, the more likely you’ll see each place that device visits. Better accuracy and completeness of location data enables advertisers to target more effectively and efficiently.
  • How up-to-date are your audiences and how often are they refreshed?
    • What to look for:
      • For audience building and attribution purposes, audience data should be thoroughly refreshed every 24 hours.


  • How comprehensive is your place information?
    • What to look for:
      • Place of interest (POI) databases vary in size. An average U.S. POI database includes less than 10 million places of interest. It’s important to understand what countries are covered in the vendor’s POI. It’s also important to ensure the vendor’s POI database is organized in a way that makes it easy to use.
      • Vendor allows advertisers to quickly and easily create custom places in the POI database. If you’re targeting a well known national chain, then there’s no issue. But what if you need to add a local set of locations that aren’t in the POI database?
      • Vendor allows advertisers to bulk upload custom places to a point-of-interest database. If you’re targeting 1,500 retail locations, you don’t want to have to manually enter each one.
      • Vendor allows advertisers to use their own place data. If you already have the place details for the locations you want location data for, you should be able to use your own set of POI data.
  • How precise is your place information?
    • What to look for:
      • Vendor’s POI database discerns between large structures, such as shopping malls and airports, and individual retail locations within those structures. For example, the vendor allows you to target Mall of America or the Nordstrom store within the Mall of America. Similarly, the vendor allows you to target O’Hare International Airport or just focus on the Starbucks locations inside O’Hare.
      • The location data the vendor works with should be accurate down the foot. This is sometimes expressed in decimal degrees. Vendor’s location data should process events accurate to 6 decimal degrees. This ensures that devices seen at a specific location were actually at the location, enabling you to get the highest quality audiences and most reliable attribution.
  • How do you verify your place information and compensate for bad addresses?
    • What to look for:
      • Vendor regularly updates and matches POI database to latitude/longitude coordinates.
  • How do you filter out locations that are not appropriate for my campaign’s needs?
    • What to look for:
      • Vendor’s solution enables advertisers to build audiences based on individual locations, eliminating all others if desired.


Here are just some of the attendee questions answered by Dan Dillon.

Q: As an agency, how would you classify location-based services to potential clients, and what would be a relevant approach for a pricing strategy?

Dan Dillon (DD): We work with a lot of digital agencies. This is one of the best questions they can ask.

We see agencies positioning location-based marketing to clients as a way to improve targeting and getter a better ROI on their ad spend.

Our VISIT Local product includes pre-built foot traffic analytics reports that you can bring into pitch meetings to help you win more business. These reports are an ideal way to bring insights to your prospects and clients that they can’t get anywhere else.

As for pricing, the most progressive agencies are actually making money from using VISIT Local. They bake the cost of the product into their fee and spread it out across their clients.

They also increase their media mark-up, knowing that the ads are more highly targeted and may result in a higher ROI for clients.

We’ve priced VISIT Local so smaller agencies can take advantage of location-based marketing strategies and more effectively compete with larger agencies.

Q: Can you search up and target a specific business location by typing in “taco bell” or “subway” on Facebook?

DD: No. You can target audiences on Facebook based on pages people have liked, but that doesn’t mean they have visited a Taco Bell or a Subway restaurant.

This is what makes location data so valuable. It allows you to target audiences who have actually been to brick-and-mortar locations you care about and who therefore are most likely to convert on your call to action.

Q: I’m having a hard time convincing team members that we need to consider location data in our approach. I need help convincing them that location-based marketing is valuable.

DD: You can do this a couple of ways. Industry data is very helpful in showing how valuable location-based marketing is.

Mobile Marketer says that nearly 90% of marketers use location data in campaigns. Merkle says that more than 60% of marketers use location data to drive personalization. eMarketer tells us that investment in location-based ads is growing by 40 percent.

You can also share case studies of successful campaigns that leverage location data. There’s a great selection to choose from at Reveal Mobile.

Q: If the GPS of users’ phones are not on, how do you capture the location of these users?

DD: We don’t. If a mobile device isn’t sharing its location, then that device will not show up in any location-based audiences. This ensures consumer privacy.

Reveal Mobile honors all opt-out requests, which is just one of the ways we comply with CCPA (the California Consumer Privacy Act) and ensure customers get the highest quality audiences.

[Video Recap] How to Outsmart Your Competitors & Win Market Share Using Location Data

Watch the video recap of the webinar presentation and Q&A session.

Or check out the SlideShare below.

Join Us for Our Next Webinar!

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All screenshots taken by author, February 2020

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