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Location is emotional - and why that matters to the future of advertising

Location is emotional - and why that matters to the future of advertising
This was originally published as a LinkedIn article.

Everything we do, feel, and think can be attached to a location -- it's emotional. That's why location data has been used in advertising for quite some time. Now, however, we're at a pivotal moment in the market where new levels of possible targeting will create some exciting new opportunities. Ultimately, this insight will provide a better understanding of people and enable stronger audience relationships.

At a recent Mobile Monday event held in San Francisco at the Galvanize incubator space, I joined a panel of advertising industry mavens to discuss this future of location data and audience segmentation.

Location is emotional

Location is part of the space time continuum we live in everyday, but it's not something we may consciously consider unless we need to get from point A to B. Yet, everything we do, feel, and think can be attached to a location.

Some of those attachments are purely utilitarian: find the closest transport option; tell me the weather for where I will be tomorrow; tell me where ties are on sale in this mall.

Other location attachments are highly emotional, for example, the place you got engaged or where you were at the moment of a historical event.

Whether we recognize it or not, location data and information is a fundamental, underlying part of our human experience.

For businesses, this means location data and information is essential to providing the best mobile and web experiences for people and thus, understanding the emotional connections of places is key.

From data parsing to the battle of the algorithms

HERE believes we are at a pivotal time in the location market. Location data has been leveraged in advertising for many years, but the data is becoming more and more granular and the publisher/audience relationship is changing.

That fundamental relationship will be strengthened by the advent and impact of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will also affect US-based consumer data processing companies.

The GDPR will force publishers to think deeply about how they expose and use consumer data, compelling them to engage in a true emotional dialogue -- through their apps. Success will come to those that brilliantly rethink and innovate in this area: those that figure out how to use the range of data coming in from a new IoT world for even more consumer benefit.

In advertising, as publishers (or, in the language of the GDPR, "data controllers" and "data processors", i.e. supply side platforms (SSP), demand side platforms (DSP), data management platforms (DMP) and agencies) advance on the road of data-driven advertising, it strikes me that much of the investment and history to-date has mainly been around data collection, parsing, standardization, formatting and normalization of the workflow.

This will trend will surely continue. But as the market evolves, consolidates and rationalizes, and the global data pool normalizes, focus will shift to the emotional, yet algorithmic value-add of what each market actor brings to the data.

Two sets of location data will fuel advertising processes, from audience segmentation (targeting) to inventory buying to campaign measurement and attribution: consumer data, which will continue to be generated in volume, and data about the real world, which will ever expand to a "location noosphere" (to paraphrase Teilhard de Chardin’s famous line - he's talking about your personal 'thought universe').


The location noosphere is all around us: it connects things and people, moments of varying degrees of emotional value, to complete the view of the world we have – in a data representation of our experiences. We at HERE Technologies call it "Reality Index".


Artificial intelligence (AI)-based processing of the two types of location data will help companies create truly innovative consumer experiences. We are at the beginning of a new world of audience segmentation and campaign attribution.

The road to exploiting location data is a long one, where a publisher (sell side) and brand, agency or DSP (buy side) need to align with a partner committed for the long haul, with broad shoulders and an attitude of ever improving data quality and breadth.

From audience segments to "audience worlds"

During the panel discussion, we traced a vision of where location data will go in advertising. We called it "audience worlds."

We see the granularity of audience segmentation and attribution increasing over time through an ecosystem of partners stitching together the insights of their distinct data silos, through algorithm-driven platforms like the HERE Open Location Platform.

We believe ecosystem partners will seek a neutral platform which enables them to access real-world data so they can regain control of their data science in a world (for now) dominated by Google.

Driven by the changes and shifts of the digital programmatic buying, the header-bidding wars, the GDPR, the market consolidations, we are at the dawn of a new advertising era in location intelligence exploration, creation and monetization.

Hervé Utheza

Hervé Utheza

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