After more than seven years at the mega-agency MediaCom, George Dixon has turned his attention to the new Wild West of mobile; geolocation and its leading exponent Mobsta. Here he explains the need for regulation and why the industry has to wise up and deliver on its undoubted promise.
Most of the readers of the blog are highly tech-savvy, but might not be aware of the challenges of geolocation and Mobsta’s position in the ecosystem. Pray tell us more.
We are a UK-based tech company working exclusively in the UK with US technology company Placecast and have a highly accurate location-powered product working with some of the UK’s biggest brands. Advertisers want to know now more than ever where their advertising £s are going. Demystifying technology is part of this as ensuring their media spend is served to their target audience in the right place and moment. We have recently demonstrated the accuracy of our technology and data at tracking visitors into store locations, proving that we can deliver on the promise of location.
But, rather like the early mobile games and advertising days, it appears there are some charlatans out there.
That’s unfortunately true. We believe our tech platform delivers on its promises of accurate and scalable location targeting and delivery. But we need more regulation in the industry so it can winnow out any companies that promise targets they will never deliver. A shake-out is definitely needed.
So it’s about delivering true geolcation results to brands that they can trust?
Now more than ever clients want to understand where their audience is and what they are doing. They need to prove the effect of their media beyond clicks and site visits. We can demonstrate the effect of a media spend on driving actual visits into stores
. By offering the most accurate solution in the market as well as being able to verify location data to demonstrate its accuracy.
So what does the product actually do?
Our location platform tracks consumer’s movements based on GPS signals passed from their phones (all done anonymously). This allows us to understand whether they are in market for a new car, seen on a BMW forecourt, regular cinema goers or frequent shoppers at Tesco.
Using this data, we deliver advertising campaigns in the optimum place and moment then monitor the location behaviour of those delivered ads to see if it leads them to a different store or location in the future i.e. to visit an Audi dealer after BMW or try Sainsbury having been to Tesco in the past.
So explain to me as if I’m Joe Public, not a highly respected tech writer.
All mobile phones give off location signals when they are being used. The signals give information about where someone is and how often they go there. Mobsta’s technology allows us to monitor these signals to create relevant groups of people to target for advertising. Such as new film releases to people who frequently go to the cinema or offers in their favourite shops.
Mobsta began as a media strategy company, so how did you get here?
Our founders are highly experienced media professionals who were keen to take advantage of the growing interest in mobile advertising. You’re right in saying Mobsta started as a mobile strategy company helping monetise products and publishers’ inventory. Location was one of those products, at the time with the unique ability to target people based on their current location according to the GPS signals shared by their phones.
So give me some numbers.
We track over 45 million users each month in the UK, 500 million globally to build audiences and gather insights. This is already a $2 billion business and those numbers are only going to increase.
Walk me through the use experience.
It’s very simple; a consumer doesn’t have to do anything. They opt in to share their location when they use apps on their phone. Their data is collected anonymously, no individual information is stored. As they use their phone location relevant adverts would be sent to their phone as they browse different apps.
I understand you recently came top in a survey based on the major geolocation players?
We believe we have proved the quality of our data and platform with two tests in the last 12 months, one in the US and one in the UK. Each of which we came out on top showing key silo and verticals. We are confident we have the most accurate platform in the market and are really proud of our performance in recent tests.
Where is the team based and what’s your funding history?
We are based in London, our tech is based in San Francisco whilst we have smaller offices in New York, Amsterdam and are working with partners in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
As for funding, we are privately owned, but we may take seed, Series A etc when the time and opportunity is right.
Well, now my readers and I know more about the growing importance of geolocation. Thanks for sharing and coming in, George.
Thanks for having me.