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Stores and The City: One Size Doesn’t Fit All


Stores and The City: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

New York has long been heralded as the Mecca for consumers and avid shoppers. From its role as proving ground for the 1837 inception of a small ‘fancy goods’ store by a 25 year old Charles Lewis Tiffany, to the multi-floor cathedrals of consumerism that populate midtown today, the city’s reputation for retail is famous around the world.

It makes sense then, that if you want to know what’s happening in the world of retail or to take a look at how shopping habits are changing, you would look to the city’s shoppers as a microcosm or a bellwether for buyers everywhere. And nowhere do patterns and behaviors come to the forefront more prominently than during the all-important January sales period.


The great thing about New York (apart from the skyline, the speakeasies, the stores and the inimitable sense of humor…. We could go on) is that walking is still one of the primary ways to get around. This means that foot traffic patterns provide incredibly strong indicators of consumer shopping habits (and what influences them) — but foot traffic only tells us part of the story. Combine the foot traffic data with the smartphone devices being carried around and all of a sudden you get a very clear understanding of who shops where, what times attract different groups and, all importantly, how you can better engage and converse with them.

Throughout January of this year we did just that. We ran our own study looking at shopper patterns in some of the world’s most well-known stores, looking specifically at foot traffic post-Holiday season at Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Saks, and Lord & Taylor to see what we could learn from the foot traffic around and into each to provide learnings for marketers. What we found was that high foot traffic alone wasn’t the best reason to heavy up media delivery to a specific retailer (despite an advertiser’s popular belief). Instead of a one-size fits strategy, each brand should target and engage the micro-tribes that make up their store audiences.

For example, Macy’s, a store placed in prime foot traffic location – between myriad subway and mainline train stations, and also likely the most marketed to international tourists as a destination itself. It’s hardly a surprise that it enjoyed the most foot traffic of the four stores we looked at. Conversely, Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdales saw less foot traffic during the observation period. At first glance, a marketer could conclude that the quieter stores offered less opportunity and, based on the higher foot traffic they might increase spend on targeted mobile ads in Macy’s and Saks. This approach would treat the entire in-store audience as the same tribe, sending them the same creative ad message.

But by using location technology, marketers are able to further break down, qualify and target audiences so they don’t have to treat in-store shoppers as the same demographic group. By monitoring device IDs after in-store visits to determine if they visit local schools during school hours or pick up and drop off times, “parents” versus “students” can be identified and messaged accordingly. Taking a closer look at the audience breakdown of the store traffic in this way, we saw that Lord & Taylor actually indexed with the highest audience of parents followed by Saks Fifth Avenue. With the higher price point of Saks Fifth Avenue and the older brand persona of Lord & Taylor, this data rings true with that of the retailer profiles and is an important insight for marketers to have in their arsenal when looking to reach certain demographic audiences.

One tribe (ie students vs parents) is not necessarily more valuable than the other but, as a retailer, this level of insight into the wants, needs and capabilities of each is invaluable as you plan advertising campaigns, sales strategies and in-store offers to target and engage each. Trends may start here in the city but what national and local stores can learn from the device and foot traffic data available today, will be key to making those trends work in every location, and for every buyer.

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Excess vs. Exercise: US, UK & Australia Infographic


Excess vs. Exercise: US, UK & Australia Infographic

New Year, New You?

Perhaps, but it depends where you are…

Search behaviour is the first step in the purchase journey for many. It can be a good indicator of interest, consideration or even intent, but until that translates into actual behaviour – as evidenced by footfall – that means the purchase journey (in most cases) remains incomplete.

In this infographic, we use Blis’ analytics tool, Smart Trends to look at US, UK & Australia’s real-world behaviours during the Christmas and New year period to see how resolute those ‘resolutions’ really are.

Click here to download the infographic.

Excess vs Exercise_US-UK-AUS_ Blis_Image

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Looking for Loyalty? Be Personal and Transparent


Looking for Loyalty? Be Personal and Transparent

Today’s consumers find temptation—and advertisements—at every turn. A woman might click an ad for ankle boots on her mobile phone, but browse a competitor’s stylish knee-high boots a minute later. Increased purchase options and more opportunities for consumers to pursue them both online and offline have put a dent in consumer loyalty. In fact, 77 percent of consumers admit they now withdraw their loyalty more quickly than they did before, according to Accenture.

This is a shame, as customer loyalty is critical for business success. According to research conducted by Bain & Company, just a 5 percent increase in customer retention rates can lead to a 25 to 95 percent increase in profits.

So how can brands inspire loyalty and lift sales in the process?

Get Up Close and Personal

With almost three-quarters of customers saying they get frustrated when ads aren’t customized to their preferences, it’s clear consumers want personalization. But personalization is also key to brand loyalty? When brands personalize their communications with consumers, they’ll help them feel cared for and understood—and keep them incentivized to continue shopping.

Brands can boost their personalization efforts with help from purchase data. For example, if a consumer buys a new ski jacket from an outdoor apparel company ahead of the winter season, the brand can personalize their next round of ads. They can suggest, for instance, that the consumer buy a matching set of snow pants and gloves.

Purchase data can tell the brand who has purchased from them before, but what about consumers who’ve yet to buy something? With historical location data, the outdoor apparel brand can identity other potential customers: People who have visited a ski resort. And to help ensure the ads lead to greater foot traffic and sales, the brand can serve ads to these individuals when they drive near one of their brick-and-mortar stores.

Be Crystal Clear

Transparency has become a new buzzword across industries—from our workplaces to our personal lives. Equality advocates argue for full salary transparency. Environmentalists call for supply chain transparency. And we want our friends, family and partners to be transparent with us.

But as one journalist pointed out in a recent Fortune article, transparency often “runs counter to traditional business practices.” But brands that go against this habit and embrace transparency across their consumer-facing communications—including advertising—will develop strong and long-lasting relationships with consumers.

Domino’s took this idea of transparency to the extreme when they launched a campaign across the U.S. to solicit consumer feedback—and made it public. They asked tough questions and took the answers to heart—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and completely revamped their product. Since Domino’s “pizza turnaround,” sales have skyrocketed.

Give Incentives

Brands can also build brand loyalty by offering incentives. Let’s say a large CPG brand wants to increase in-store visits. Perhaps the brand’s advertisers see that some consumers have visited their location once or twice, but shop at Target and Walmart fairly often. The CPG brand can use incentives to get these consumers to choose them over the competition with ads offering discounts, special in-store offers and loyalty free-bees.

But brands need to make sure these incentives are tailored to the individual. A credit card company, for example, can offer rewards to high spenders, but they shouldn’t send a Forever 21 voucher to a man in his 50s. But what if that man is often seen connecting to the Wi-Fi at Macy’s? Sending him a discount coupon for a tailor-made suit the next time he’s in the store would work much better.

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The Rise of Techlash: It’s Time to Focus on Transparency


The Rise of Techlash: It’s Time to Focus on...

Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce began the year warning us of the oncoming techlash – a backlash against big tech that is gaining strength from regulators and consumers alike. 2017 did mark something of a turning point in the way we think about and engage with tech – on the one hand, we’re more reliant on technology than ever and yet the spotlight on bots, fake news and misappropriation of social media for political gain, made us more mistrustful of it than ever.

And there has been some transparent soul-searching – whether from Apple investors raising concerns about children’s use of smartphones, or original iPhone designer, Tony Fadell, reminiscing to Anderson Cooper on stage:

“I worry what my grandkids are going to think. Will it be ‘He’s the guy that destroyed society?’”

I admire his transparency but I tend to think he’s beating himself up a little too much. There’s a real risk of the industry talking itself into something here and we should, collectively, step back from the brink. Yes, Amazon, Facebook et al know a lot about us but there is a limit to what they can do with it, and the value that technology has delivered to us as consumers, as individuals, as society will continue to vastly outweigh the threats as long as Governments and regulatory bodies remain.

Ironically enough, the real losers of any techlash won’t be the big established players, their entrenchment in our collective psyche plus long term growth strategies will ensure they ride the predicted wave. Smaller, innovative start ups with new perspectives and technologies are much more likely to be caught up in any negativity. We owe it to them not to allow ourselves to be carried away by the chatter and instead focus on building responsible and transparent business models and initiatives.

Nowhere is this more true than in the world of digital advertising. In an age where one misstep can cause irreparable damage to long-term brand equity and short-term sales targets, the responsibility is on us to caretake our clients’ brands. We must collectively subscribe to the highest standards when it comes to data security and privacy and hold ourselves accountable. Data security, accuracy and fraud are particularly prevalent issues in the digital advertising space and to ignore them is to effectively resign ourselves to some from of backlash when the worst inevitably happens.

The rise in uneasiness about tech addiction is top of mind for lawmakers, major tech shareholders and brands alike. 2018 has already seen a raft of initiatives such as the Center for Humane Technology or the Time Well Spent movement launched, each speaking to an appetite to move ‘Big Tech’ away from solely measuring comments and shares to emphasizing positive contributions to users’ lives. It’s a lesson we should all keep in mind as the conversation continues throughout the year, We all have an obligation to make sure content is appropriate, relevant and timely – we must continue to be a help and not a hindrance to users.

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Game ROI Doesn’t Have to End After 4th Quarter


Game ROI Doesn’t Have to End After 4th Quarter

It’s been a little over a week since the Big Game where the country saw the underdog Philadelphia Eagles triumph over the reigning champion New England Patriots. But of course, the Big Game isn’t just for the talented players who make the final showdown after a long season, it’s also one of the biggest events for brand advertisers all year. It’s a chance for advertisers to reach a large number of folks and show off their creative chops to earn the admiration of Americans nationwide.

But now that the game is over and we have around 355 days until the next one, how can advertisers reach the NFL fans that engaged with their ad content during the broadcast? Here are some tips on how brands can best reach fans during the regular season.

Die-hard fans
According to our data, die-hard fans, defined as those that purchased stadium season tickets, are more than twice as likely to watch the game at a bar compared to someone who didn’t buy an NFL stadium ticket that season. This location behavior gives adult beverage brands a leg up for this audience. These brands should serve ad content with messaging that speaks to the life-long love they have for their team while they are watching the game in their favored social viewing location, strengthening the brand-consumer relationship which will likely lead to a conversion.

Regular-level fans
Regular-level fans, those who have an NFL/team app on their phone, are more likely to watch the game at home compared to according to location insights. This behooves any grocery stores and food delivery outlets attempting to link their brand to the Super Bowl to target these folks in the run-up to the weekend and then finally at home as they hunker down at home for the game every Sunday with their go-to snacks.

Targeting with Wifi
To successfully target these fans, brands need the ability to recognize the same mobile device they saw at last week’s game when it’s currently connected to a bar Wifi. They key is WiFi because only Wifi can separate the consumer device from the bar below from the resident phone at the apartment upstairs. The use of lat/longs can’t achieve this level of accuracy.

The insight gained by location, affords brands the opportunity to reach fans at scale, and to amplify other media activity. For instance, the NFL die-hard can see that insurance brand at the stadium, and then again on their phone during the game while drinking at the bar. Meanwhile, the casual fan can see the TV commercial at home, then again on their mobile or desktop the next morning as they start the work week. Brands should use these insights to continue reaching fans long after the Big Game ends. Just because advertising’s biggest night is over, doesn’t mean the ROI needs to be!

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Partner Spotlight: Q&A with RSi’s Ansa


Partner Spotlight: Q&A with RSi’s Ansa

Question 1: How long have you been at RSi and what is your role?
For the past three years, I have been responsible for creating and scaling Ansa, a web-based solution from RSi – Retail Solutions, Inc., that has enabled over 75 of the world’s largest CPG companies and their agencies to build, measure and maximize the performance of their shopper marketing campaigns running in support of the nation’s leading retailers. I am responsible for all aspects of business development, partner and agency relationships and the overall revenue growth of Ansa.

Question 2: How does RSi help solve marketer challenges?
Shopper marketers’ biggest challenge is to connect their online campaigns to in-store results. RSi’s Ansa solution provides the intelligence they need, based on daily, store-level POS-data from the largest US retailers in order to plan, target, and measure the impact of their shopper marketing campaigns. Retail Solutions Inc. has partnered with the leading ad networks in Shopper Marketing, such as Blis, to make Ansa’s automated analytics available for the world’s largest CPG companies and their agencies. To measure and maximize their digital ad campaigns, all they need to do is ask for Ansa inside their next campaign.

Question 3: What benefits does the partnership with Blis bring to buyers as well as the adtech ecosystem?
With RSi’s Ansa solution, building, dynamically optimizing, and reviewing attribution measures for every digital ad campaign has never been so simple. Here is how it works:
1. STORE-LEVEL TARGETING: automatically get from Ansa your store targeting data as store addresses, lat/longs or by Ansa Digital ZIPs to identify stores with the greatest sales potential prior to launching hyper-local media.
2. IN-FLIGHT OPTIMIZATION: see in real-time how sales are trending in your targeted stores vs. a 52-week historical average, and get access to dynamic optimization lists that can guide budget reallocation.
3. MEASUREMENT & INSIGHTS: get access via the online portal to end of campaign analysis just days after the media campaign is over. Visualizations give you a standardized set of analytics, such as sales lift, incremental dollars and units, confidence level, weekly lift, characteristics of high performing stores, etc. Prove and improve your media to help you fine-tune strategies for your future campaigns.

Question 4: What are use cases for the Blis + RSi partnership? (Please provide a few examples from different verticals).
If you are a shopper marketer, maximizing your budgets, understanding performance of your marketing tactics and generating key learnings from those marketing tactics are tasks that are essential to your business.

Running a digital marketing campaign with Blis, and Ansa’s daily, store-level sales intelligence helps make that extremely for the CPG community and shopper marketers specifically.

For existing products, Blis campaigns using Ansa targeting can reach a targeting efficiency of 2:1 vs. campaigns that do not use Ansa store-level targeting thereby ensuring that every dollar is spent driving sales to your most important retailer locations.

Blis campaigns optimized with Ansa typically identify and heavy up investment around 16% of stores that are trending significantly ahead of the average store during a campaign and identify and decrease investment around 14% of stores that are trending significantly behind the average store, therefore ensuring that your budget is being optimized surrounding stores that are over-performing during a given campaign.

After each Blis campaign, Ansa automatically generates measurement of Featured Item Lift and Halo Item Lift at both the total event and week levels. Results are completed 5 business days after the end of each campaign and allow you to learn quickly and improve continuously, all at an amazingly affordable price.

Question 5: What shopper marketing measurement trends do you predict for 2018?
Optimization in-flight based on store sales trends during campaign. Optimizing on engagement, intent and / or clicks may be ok for some campaigns but more and more frequently shopper marketers are tasked with driving sales at their most important retailers. And understanding how their marketing tactics performed 5-6 weeks after a campaign has finished is just not fast enough anymore in today’s fast paced world and puts media providers at a severe disadvantage. By utilizing automated reporting that allows Ansa partners like Blis to understand and optimize their media in-flight based on daily, store-level POS sales data you now empower your media partner to act on supporting the stores that are driving your product sales which can ultimately provide a powerful boost to a shopper marketing campaign.

Question 6: If there was one piece of content you think every marketer should read, what is it?
(Other than this blog post of course!)

Think with Google and Facebook IQ are two fantastic sources of resources. Articles, trends, case studies, POVs, insights, etc… pretty much everything you need to read to keep you up-to-speed in this very fast-paced environment.

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Net Neutrality: Meaningful connections in a less than neutral world


Net Neutrality: Meaningful connections in a less than neutral...

2018 is not quite a month old and already it’s been tumultuous from a tech perspective. Trust, transparency (and the responsibility to deliver both) have dominated conversations in tech and business media. Nowhere has this been more evident than around the issue of Net Neutrality repeal in the US. Despite the FCC’s victory back in December last year, and the many column inches dedicated to the subject, to repeal or not to repeal remains the question.

Just last week we saw a group of 21 U.S. state attorneys general file suit, challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s decision while Democrats said they needed just one more vote in the Senate to repeal the FCC ruling. While the outcome remains in the balance, any brand and marketing teams worth their salt are already thinking about the implications of Net Neutrality repeal on the consumer relationship and creatively looking at marketing campaigns in response.

And with good cause – any repeal of Net Neutrality will, by default, drastically impact Internet access as we know it, as well as all the business models that have grown up with it. Built on the model of a free and open transfer of information, big tech players including Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook have weighed in against repeal and, if even they’re concerned about its impact on business, where does that leave smaller brands and startups?

At its most basic, the repeal of Net Neutrality regulation will make the transfer of information more costly, and will place control of both access and costs into the hands of a small group of ISPs and telco providers. This is a significant responsibility and is made even more so by the lack of trust Americans currently place in such institutions.

We’re at an inflection point – as consumers we are dependent on tech but fake news, social media manipulation, automation and the increasingly public private data footprint have negatively impacted our perception. A recent study by Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and Mastercard found that American consumers are operating in a state of trust deficit. The tech innovation that has characterized much of the past 20 years will be threatened if this deficit is not addressed. The weight of responsibility rests on the shoulders of these key players and ISPs to stand by their promises to operate transparently.

If they stand by this promise, there are ways that marketers could work with new these parameters to better engage and deliver greater value to consumers. One thing we know ISPs to be good at is creating clear usage/demographic analysis – the data packages they build will in effect become audience-specific channels for brands to reach targets with tailored content and offers. The challenge though will be that, even while we might be able to better target consumers, we may find it harder to engage them as we risk getting lumped in with ‘big tech’, mistrusted and suspected to not have their interests at heart.

Bigger brands with deeper pockets will immediately benefit more from the repeal as they are better positioned to invest in building relationships. I would also expect to see some very creative and scrappy campaigns from smaller brands looking to cut through come to the fore too – shorter, sharper messages in place of slow loading content, experience over volume. Some of the finest works of art have been created under strict constraints – Michelangelo’s David is a prime example – and I’d love to think that we’ll see come groundbreaking work result from these new parameters too.

Ultimately, whether the repeal happens or not, the message we should all be taking here is one of transparency and trust. As brands, marketers and businesses, we need to build real, meaningful relationships with our audience if we’re going to have long term growth. We can deliver that message quickly, or less so, but the onus is on us to make it heard.

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Cortana, Alexa, Siri, Google Now: Marketer’s New Best Friends?


Cortana, Alexa, Siri, Google Now: Marketer’s New Best Friends?

How do voice activation services affect location data’s relationship with advertising and marketing?

Voice activations services and AI-driven virtual assistants are having a moment. While Siri has been around the longest, Alexa and OK Google have made strides to surpass her in popularity. And what Cortana lacks in popularity, it apparently makes up for in accuracy, so we mustn’t forget to include Microsoft’s entry to the field.

While these services may be associated with Echo and Google Home-type connected devices, they have their roots in mobile, and are used with increasing regularity on smartphones. They’re also used largely for search: a recent survey of 1000 users of AI assistants found that 63 percent of them use it for search. Last year, Google reported that a full 20 percent of its mobile queries were voice searches, and comScore predicts that half of all searches will be led by voice within the next three years.

It seems then, that this is a trend a marketer should pay attention to. Most marketers consider search engine optimisation part of their basic toolkit anyway; certainly marketers should continue that work and keep an eye out for strategies to improve their results in voice search as well as traditional SEO. It’s helpful that Google is re-confirmed as the search engine for Apple, so optimising for Google will kill two birds with a single stone.

Consider that each device and virtual assistant seems to be evolving towards a different use case. OK Google on the mobile is more closely associated with information and utility. Users call on it to find the nearest barber shop or the best route home on a busy day. While only in the UK for a year now, Alexa seems locked to the housebound Echo devices currently, and used more entertainment. Friends rely on Alexa to tell them who won the Oscar in 1972, or what the weather’s like in Budapest today. (It’s also worth noting the growing trend of tots who love to yell “Alexa, stop!” as soon as Alexa beings delivering responses to Mummy and Daddy. Fun!) That said, Alexa users will recognize that Amazon has been promoting the Alexa app more heavily of late, which will help raise its profile – and usefulness – out of the home.

Amongst my friends and colleagues, Siri is most used for finding songs (particularly in its nascent iOS 11 incarnation) and other Apple-related tasks, for example, “Siri, FaceTime Mom.” And Cortana – well, I don’t actually know many people who use Cortana. But now that we know how accurate it is, perhaps its popularity will grow! (It has 133 million users currently, compared to more than a billion boasted by OK Google.)

To make the most of voice activation, marketers really need to think about how search behaviour has changed in recent years. Google reports that searches including the term “near me” grew 130 percent between 2014 and 2015. More importantly, searches for local businesses without the “near me” qualifier have increased over 150 percent in the last two years, on the understanding that proximity is implied, and therefore expected in the results returned.

While this is great news – and low hanging fruit – for local businesses like restaurants and nail salons, what does it mean for global brands? Does voice search give consumers an even easier path of least resistance to start their product searches? It’s quite simple to say, “Alexa, what are the best running shoes?” Or, “OK Google, what’s the best 4K television?” But how will artificial intelligence quantify “best?”

It’s a question that is probably costing brand marketers lots of sleep. They need to ensure that their products make those initial short lists. I suspect Alexa will prioritize products by Amazon user reviews, but how will Siri, Cortana, and Google define “best” in those searches? There may be a whole new market for SEO specialists and sponsored search – particularly for devices that have no screen. No one will want Alexa or Siri rambling off a ten-item list of products.

I can’t predict what will happen next in this space, but I can guarantee that it will be exciting – particularly as Google Home and Apple’s HomePod enter the market, and as Alexa gets her first screen. We shall see!

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Blockchain Will Transform Global Economy, But What About Advertisers?


Blockchain Will Transform Global Economy, But What About Advertisers?

When most people hear blockchain, they think Bitcoin—one of the world’s first digital currencies. But while Bitcoin has yet to transform the global economy, experts believe that its underlying technology—blockchain—is poised to spark an economic revolution.

A secure digital ledger, blockchain keeps track of transactions involving anything of value—whether it’s money, stocks, music, art, or votes. On this shared and decentralized platform, everyone has access to the same information trails, and transactions are verified on a consensus basis.

Use cases for the cutting-edge technology aren’t just hypothetical: Last month, a house was purchased using blockchain for the very first time. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has begun looking at how the technology can aid diplomacy. According to McKinsey’s Don Tapscott, blockchain will soon transform every institution—in some ways more than the internet did.

So what does this blockchain revolution mean for advertising?

Blockchain’s Value for Advertisers

By enabling marketers to conduct transactions in a secure and transparent marketplace, blockchain has the potential to solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges—starting with transparency.

As digital advertising itself has become more and more complex, advertisers have been grappling with how best to validate their data and media. For years, they have relied on a plethora of third party tools in order to do so. However, with blockchain, we’re seeing for the first time an opportunity validate their own data. In other words, first party verification.

In March, a study commissioned by WPP revealed that advertisers could be wasting $16.4 billion on fraudulent traffic—twice as much as previously thought. With blockchain, the end-to-end processes of booking, buying, and placing digital advertising will be recorded and stored. And because all these transactions and audit trails would be available to the public and verified by common consensus, blockchain will help eliminate ad fraud and bring about greater transparency that many in the industry have been demanding.

MetaX (a company that builds blockchain solutions for digital advertising) and the Data and Marketing Association are already showing the industry how this could work with adChain—the industry’s first blockchain-based solution designed to fight fraud.

Another benefit of blockchain technology is that it’s incredibly secure—which means that it will allow advertisers to safely store vast collections of sensitive customer data. Its decentralized nature—which means data is spread across its network—makes it less vulnerable to hacking.

However, the technology also has some limitations. For advertisers, the most significant drawback is that blockchain isn’t fast enough to keep up with the rate of transactions or the speed of real-time bidding. In fact, it can only process thousands of transactions per second—a number far lower that the millions that occur in the digital ad industry each second.

As blockchain continues to evolve, it may develop the capacity to process a greater number of transactions in real time. But until then, the industry could find a compromise. For example, rather than recording every transaction, the industry could integrate counters that store every 100,000 transactions. Since the ad industry tends to trade is cost per thousand, advertisers will still be able to benefit.

Where do we go from here?

Integrating blockchain technology into our existing advertising ecosystems will take time. Larger players will take longer to adapt, and organizations from across the industry will need to come together and agree on a common set of standards.

But the transition to blockchain has already begun: The IAB Tech Lab has set up a blockchain working group to develop best practices for using the technology. Meanwhile, some forward-looking companies have begun to build their own marketplaces that run on blockchain technology.

These trends look set to continue: We’ll see more and more startups adopting the technology, and the IAB and other industry bodies will begin setting some key standards. Within five years, the ad industry will transition into using blockchain as a transaction leger. And within a decade, we’ll likely see it become a new industry standard. It’s time for brands and their tech partners to prepare.

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Can Smaller Marketing Budgets Produce Greater Returns?


Can Smaller Marketing Budgets Produce Greater Returns?

Can Smaller Marketing Budgets Produce Greater Returns? Can Less Ads Mean More Gains for Brands?

Nobody likes a budget cut.

For marketers, getting their ad dollars slashed can be particularly painful. According to Pepper Global, 37 percent of marketers say that budget constraints keep them from carrying out an effective marketing automation strategy. Meanwhile, almost a third say that securing a sufficient budget is their top marketing challenge.

But do smaller marketing budgets have to mean less effective advertising?

Not necessarily. Marketers with small budgets—or those dealing with budget cuts—can actually see a greater return on their investments. How? By coupling location data with other critical insights, brands can make sure each and every ad dollar they spend is working to the fullest.

Waste Not

The first thing a marketer with a reduced budget should do is identify—and eliminate—waste.

By coupling their proximity campaigns with third-party data sources, brands can find out where they might not be making the best use of their investment. For example, a luxury retailer located in a shopping mall might be serving ads to anyone who comes nearby, but how many of those shoppers are actually interested in—or can even afford—their high-end products?

Instead of wasting ad impressions on someone that might never buy one of their products, the luxury retailer can hyper-target an ideal subset of consumers. For example, using previous purchase data, the brand can identify consumers who have shopped at high-end retailers in the past. By serving ads only to individuals with a preference for luxury retailers, the brand will reduce wasted spend—enticing only likely buyers to visit the store.

History Lessons

Retailers can also reduce waste and hyper-target their campaigns by capitalizing on historical location data. By understanding how—and where—consumers historically spend their time, advertisers can gain useful insights to craft high-performing ad campaigns.

For example, if a consumer drives to the local school every morning before heading to the gym, what can a retailer learn about them? That they are likely a parent dropping the kids off at school before getting in some exercise. This consumer might be a perfect target audience for a children’s clothing retailer. A sports vehicle brand trying to sell more two-seaters, on the other hand, might do well to avoid them.

Similarly, a mountain sports brand can use historical location data to identify their ideal sporty audience. They can, for instance, target only those consumers who’ve been seen at a ski resort, a national park cabin, or a competitor’s outdoor sports store.

By knowing where consumers have been, brands can make sure they are targeting only those consumers who are most likely to convert.

Cross-pollinate Your Campaigns

Some of the most valuable insights about consumers don’t come from distant data sources at all. Instead, they come a brand’s campaign itself.

Let’s say a large CPG brand runs a campaign to boost foot traffic. After a successful campaign, they take a look at all the people they converted, perhaps finding that 70 percent of them go to the gym regularly. The retailer can use these newfound insights to inform the next campaign cycle, such as suggesting they try a sports beverage or protein bar.

By leveraging knowledge gained from one campaign and using it for another, advertisers can make sure they are iteratively improving their advertising—and boosting returns.

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Using December’s Data to Boost January’s Sales


Using December’s Data to Boost January’s Sales

For brands, the holiday season is often the busiest—and most lucrative—time of year. Consumer spending in the U.S. is expected to hit 100 billion, with Black Friday having brought in a record of $7.9 billion (with 40% of purchases coming from mobile phones). So it’s easy for brands to feel tempted to celebrate their holiday successes and coast into 2018.

But it goes without saying that the retail season is far from over come January 1st. By drawing on insights gained throughout the holidays, brands can define (and refine) their ideal audiences, enhance their marketing campaigns, and give their January ROI the extra boost it needs.

Where Were Consumers at Christmas?

You can find out a lot about a person by the way they shop—especially during the holidays.

Did the doting husband buy a bracelet for his wife in stores after meticulous online research? Or did he simply wander into a crowded jewelry store on Christmas Eve and buy the first thing he saw? Did the mother-of-three brave the Black Friday crowds and take advantage of all the in-store sales? Or did she refuse to set foot inside a store, buying everything from the comfort of her living room on her tablet?

Thanks to historical location data, brands can gain a deep understanding of how and where consumers shop—whether online, in-stores, early, late, all at once, or in small doses. This information, in turn, can help advertisers define their ideal audiences—and deliver effective and personalized ads.

If a winter apparel brand is looking to boost sales on its winter coats this January, how can they make sure their marketing campaign is effective? First, they can tailor their ads to consumers based on what they know about their shopping habits. For the woman who spent the holiday season moving from store to store in search of the lowest prices, the brand can serve ads inviting her to check out the unbeatable in-store sales. For the consumer who prefers to shop online, the ad can point her in the direction of the company’s ecommerce site.

Measure Your Success

What else can brands learn from the holiday season? By harnessing sales data, brands can measure the impact of their holiday ads on in-store sales. This is what we’re currently doing for our clients with the help of our partners RSi’s Ansa and IRI.

For example, a CGP brand can take advantage of our partnerships to determine which of the consumers who saw their holiday ads actually went into a store and made a purchase. By understanding which ads were most effective and which consumers were less responsive, advertisers will be better equipped to tweak and optimize their campaign the next time around.

By combining sales and location data, advertisers can also find out which ads performed best according to the store location. If, for instance, an ad for a beauty product resulted in a huge sales uplift at Walmart—but not so much at Walgreens—the brand may want to shift their budgets accordingly.

This information won’t just help brands improve attribution; they’ll also be able determine where their products are selling out and where they seem to stay on the shelves. With these insights, brands can reduce wastage and increase sales.

Brands looking to keep sales up throughout the new year must make sure they take home their greatest holiday gift: rich insights into consumer shopping habits and spending patterns. Advertisers can then use these insights to inform their January campaigns and lift sales throughout 2018.

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Where will location go in 2018?


Where will location go in 2018?

2017 was a big year for location-based advertising: The IAB released its Location-based Marketing Playbook for Retailers and spending on location-based advertising reached $16 billion. It’s also a year that saw many new changes and developments in how advertisers use location data and measure its success.

How will location-based advertising continue to develop in 2018? Here are our four top predictions.

1. Cost-per-Visit (CPV) will become the new industry standard.

In the past year, we’ve seen the emergence of a powerful new marketing metric: Cost-per-Visit (CPV). With this model, brands pay for an ad only when a consumer that’s been exposed to it visits a specific location.

We were early adopters of this revolutionary new metric, so we’ve seen first-hand the positive impact it’s had on the industry. With Blis Futures, brands use predictive location data to increase foot traffic—and pay only for successful conversions. Using the CPV model not only helps brands increase foot traffic and boost sales, but it also helps foster a more trusting relationship between brands, agencies and tech vendors.

In 2018, CPV will continue to gain momentum as the metric of choice. Tech partners that want to compete will need to abandon click-based measurement schemes and work towards building more honest and transparent relationships with advertisers.

2. Brands will place greater emphasis on location intelligence.

When location data first began making a splash in advertising, brands focused mostly on proximity advertising—targeting consumers when they came within a certain vicinity of a specified location.

But increasingly, we’re seeing advertisers turn to more sophisticated uses of location data to inform their campaigns in new and exciting ways. By analyzing historical location data and detailed behavioral patterns, brands are gaining comprehensive insights into consumer preferences and habits—information that can be used to craft hyper-targeted campaigns.

For instance, if a consumer visits an elementary school in the morning five days a week, a brand can safely assume the consumer is a parent. And what if, after dropping the kids off at school, this parent goes to the office? The brand now knows that they’ve identified a working parent. And let’s say three days a week after work, the parent visits the local yoga studio? Now, the brand knows this hard-working parent is also a yogi.

All these details in a consumer’s profile and lifestyle can help brands inform when and where to serve ads for the best results. It’s brands that realize this potential and harness location intelligence as a campaign and wider business planning tool that will reap the rewards in 2018.

3. To promote transparency, more technology vendors will (and should) develop visualization tools.

Throughout 2017, concerns over brand safety, viewability, transparency and ad fraud have led to calls for greater transparency across the industry. These concerns have led some of the loudest voices clamoring for change to make significant budget cuts and many others to tweak their global contracts.

Here at Blis, we’ve taken our own steps to promote greater transparency with our clients, and we expect many other tech vendors will start doing the same in 2018. With our visualization tools Smart View and Smart Trends, clients can see exactly how our technology works—and how they can use it to achieve their goals.

In order to heed the calls for greater transparency, others should follow suit—developing tools that foster trust between vendors, agencies and brands.

4. Tech vendors and their partners will find new ways to improve attribution.

Attribution has remained a serious challenge for marketers this past year. In fact, 40 percent of them said proving marketing ROI was their top challenge in 2017.

In order to improve attribution, we partnered with several talented data providers to help our clients determine how their marketing touchpoints lead to conversions. For example, our partnership with Ansa powered by RSi is giving customers access to sales data so they can measure in-store sales uplift at retailers across the country.

In 2018, we’ll likely see more successful partnerships as well as other innovative new solutions.

As 2017 comes to a close, we will continue to build upon past successes and work to solve the remaining challenges. In doing so, we hope to make our predictions come true so that 2018 will be another great year for location-based advertising.

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Why Entrepreneurs Must Learn to Let Go


Why Entrepreneurs Must Learn to Let Go

Starting a company is a huge investment—emotionally, physically and financially. Entrepreneurs pour a lot of time, energy and sleepless nights into their new businesses. So it’s no wonder they often have a hard time relinquishing control of, well, everything.

I should know: By the time I turned 26, I had started and sold two companies—and sharing responsibility wasn’t always easy. Putting your project into someone else’s hands can feel like giving your house keys to total strangers. At least, that’s how it felt when we were deciding if we should sell Ring Ring Media, my first company, with the tech providers Amobee. We knew our expertise needed stronger technological support, and Amobee would benefit from our in-depth expertise, but it felt risky: We would be losing our independence.

Even after we agreed on the acquisition, we had many difficult conversations about which tech components we would keep and which we would scrap. I remember feeling defensive. After much to-ing and fro-ing, we finally came to compromise. But I realized that when it came to letting go, I still needed some more practice.

While it’s understandable that a founder would want to stay involved in every aspect of the business, giving up some control is the only way businesses can flourish. When entrepreneurs resist the temptation to micromanage around every corner, the office will be more efficient, employees will work better and stick around longer, and the business will flourish.

Here are three ways entrepreneurs can begin to let go—and set their companies on the path to success.

1. Perfect the company’s hiring and onboarding processes.

Hiring the wrong person can be costly for both a company’s reputation and ROI. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 27 percent of American employers say a single bad hire can cost over $50,000, not to mention softer costs like diminishing morale.

In order to feel comfortable handing over the reigns to the people they hire, business owners must implement a hiring process they believe in. When leaders have faith in how they hire, they’ll have faith in who they hire.

Especially in the early stages, entrepreneurs can also reach out to their existing networks and employ people they already know and trust. In fact, my very first boss has worked for me at three different companies. Similarly, one major incentive for opening our Blis office in Dubai was that we already had an individual in mind to start it. She was someone I had worked with for over five years, so I had faith in her to successfully kick start our operation. It paid off, the business has grown 3x a year in as many years!

2. Empower your employees.

Employee empowerment has become a buzzword in startups and HR circles, but true empowerment is key to a successful company. Founders need to admit to themselves that they aren’t specialists in everything and will need to rely on others.

How can entrepreneurs empower their employees? They can start by delegating—and trusting their staff to get the job done. For example, when thinking about examples for this section, I reached out to my employees for ideas!

In fact, one of them told me: “You instilled a culture of moving fast and effectively, of not getting too bogged down by worrying about mistakes or trying to be perfect.” When delegating tasks, entrepreneurs should give their employees the freedom to make their own decisions as well as their own mistakes.

Why? Empowering your employees will, of course, keep them happy and motivated. But it’s also a question of economics: It’s way more efficient to have qualified and competent individuals doing what they do best. So as long as you’ve hired people you trust, why not trust them to get the job done?

3. Give your workers a stake in the company.

I’m not just talking about this figuratively. One of the best ways to get employees to feel invested in your business is to let them invest in your business—literally. At Blis, many employees are shareholders, not just a select few at the top. When I sold my previous companies, employees from the CEO to the receptionist were able to share in our success. It gives me personal satisfaction as well as confidence in my employees when I know they, too, feel invested in the company.

In addition to giving staff a literal stake in your business, entrepreneurs should foster a culture where people feel emotionally and personally invested. At Blis, this isn’t just about ticking a box for a team-bonding event once a year; it’s about creating a company culture that promotes cooperation and goodwill. So far, we’ve held sports days in parks in London, spent evenings singing karaoke in Singapore, taken cooking classes in the U.S., and held surf lessons in Australia. And it’s paid off: My colleagues often spend time with each other not because they have to, but because they want to. When I walk out of the office on a Thursday night and see my colleagues sitting together in the local bar having drinks, I know we’re doing something right.

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UK Shopper Footfall Insights [Infographic]


UK Shopper Footfall Insights [Infographic]

UK Infographic Trends Preview

Following the success of our recent Global Retail Study, we take a deeper look into the online and offline behaviours of UK shoppers through Blis’ analytics tool Smart Trends.

Have you ever wondered what your consumers are browsing? Or when they are most likely to visit your store?

Our UK Shopper Footfall Insights Infographic reveals this and much more. Download the infographic to get a deeper understanding of shopper behaviour, including:

  • Smartphone ownership and usage
  • Most mobile active shopper
  • The most popular time and day for footfall
  • The most popular content to browse whilst in-store

Click here to download the infographic.

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Snow, skis and marketing strategies: making the most of ski season with location intelligence


Snow, skis and marketing strategies: making the most of...

From expensive snow gear to delicious food and drink to high-end Christmas presents, consumer spending skyrockets in December. It’s also the time of year when skiers, snowboarders and other winter travelers get ready for their mountain getaways.

This high-spending group of winter sports enthusiasts are a coveted demographic for many brands across verticals. Hotels and ski resorts, airlines, mountain stores, outdoor recreation retailers, and winter apparel brands all want to reach these consumers to increase bookings and sales this winter.

But how can all these brands make sure they reach the right consumers—and stand out among the competition—during the busy holiday season?

Find the Snow-lovers

Mountain resorts and winter sports brands may know—in theory—who their ideal consumers are: from the mountaineer to the snow-lover, the casual skier to the hard core guy who lovingly waxes his skis after each use. The parents who introduce their kid to skiing at age four. The women who take a “girls’ weekend“ trip to the mountains each January. But how can brands make sure they’ve correctly identified these ideal consumers?

Location data can help brands identify and refine the right audiences this winter. For example, they can use historical location data to figure out which people went on a ski vacation last year. People previously seen at ski resorts and mountain-based hotels are likely candidates for a mountain getaway this year, too. An airline that flies into Aspen’s local airport in Colorado, for example, can identify the out-of-towners who flew in last year or stayed at a nearby resort.

To refine these audiences further, brands can continue to use historical location data in other ways. For example, a retailer like The North Face can use geo-fencing to find out which of the consumers who went on a ski vacation were also seen shopping with a competitor like Columbia or Patagonia.

Advertising in the Run-up to Ski Season

How can brands make sure their location data is working even harder to help them understand—and target—consumers? They can couple their location-based insights with other sources of data, including past purchases and search histories.

Let’s say a brand knows that a family-of-four stayed at a resort near the slopes in Killington, Vermont last year and visited a Patagonia location this November. This information may be enough to produce a pretty effective ad campaign, but there’s more the brand can discover about this family that can help them personalize their ads further. For instance, what they are interested in buying, and how old are the kids? By taking a look at the family’s online search histories and recent purchases, they may discover, for instance, that the family is in the market for snow boots for their 10-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy, or that dad wants a new set of skis while mom just needs another set of gloves. With such granular data, brands will be better equipped to serve personalized—and highly effective—ads.


Brands that get through to the mountaineers and winter sports enthusiasts this holiday season shouldn’t say goodbye once the vacations are over. Advertisers can follow up with these consumers long after the snow has melted to build and maintain relationships that will last all year round.

By continuing to use location data, they can gain further insights into the consumers, including whether or not they take advantage of post-Christmas in-store sales, how they spend their summer vacations, and what other sports they enjoy throughout the year. Such insights can help brands target these consumers during the spring, summer and fall—and give them a leg up the following winter. They can even give next year’s winter sales an early boost by offering early-bird booking discounts—long before most brands even start thinking about winter 2019.

The best part is, these real-world location and movement data insights can not only be used to help inform mobile marketing campaigns, but a brands overall marketing strategy.

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Business or Pleasure? How Brands Can Use Location Intelligence to Target Travelers


Business or Pleasure? How Brands Can Use Location Intelligence...

This holiday season, millions of people will crisscross the country to reunite with their families and catch up with old friends. As these consumers pass through airports, train stations, and bus terminals, it’s a good reminder of how brands can use travel hubs as sites to identify, understand, and reach their ideal audiences.

In fact, travel hubs like New York, Boston and DC see huge amounts of passenger traffic each year. In 2016, nearly 59 million people passed through JFK, while a million people pass through Grand Central Station each week. These consumers may be vacationers, business travelers, American citizens, or foreign visitors—each with his or her own set of habits and interests.


With so much movement and so many individuals from all over the place moving through various travel hotspots, how can advertisers tell them apart? And how can they use this information to serve relevant messages without wasting precious ad spend?

Good Geo-fences Make Good Audiences

We all know that location data can tell a lot about a person: An individual at the gym is likely to be physically active and health-conscious, while someone who goes to the movies every weekend is probably a film buff. But understanding consumers is a lot more complex when brands are analyzing the movements of millions of consumers sitting in airport lounges or lounging on trains.

Advertisers can begin to construct comprehensive consumer profiles by collecting device IDs of passengers passing through major travel hubs. For instance, by geo-fencing an airport or train station, brands can identify a preliminary audience of travelers.

Still, a basic geo-fence will also raise some questions of its own: Is the man at La Guardia just back from a European vacation, or is he heading to Silicon Valley for a business trip? Is the woman who just connected to the Wi-Fi at Penn Station a tourist or a New Yorker heading to the Long Island Railroad? For a luxury hotel looking to reach wealthy travelers or a low-cost tourist attraction targeting penny-pinching families, the answers to these questions will make a big difference—and can help brands avoid wasting ads on the wrong audience.

By pairing geo-fence data with historical location data and in-depth behavioral analysis, marketers can answer the questions and more to build comprehensive consumer profiles that distinguish one kind of passenger from the next.

Defining—and Refining—Your Audience

How would this work in practice? To find out, we ran a campaign targeting the 4 million passengers who fly from New York to London each year—an ideal demographic for many brands, including hotel chains, taxi companies, restaurants and other travel-related services.

To first identify this group of travelers, we geo-fenced JFK airport and collected the device IDs that passed through. What we found was over 500,000 impressions each week—over half of which came from laptops, another 35 percent from mobile devices and 10 percent from tablets.

So how do we know which of these consumers were flying to London? By following these unique device IDs, we discovered that 24 percent stayed in London hotels—which means they were most likely Americans away on business trips or vacations.

So which is it? Business or pleasure? To find out which of these consumers are working hard or hardly working, advertisers can couple their geo-fence data with more sophisticated location intelligence. For example, if the travelers connect to business Wi-Fi networks, they are likely here for business. But if they spend their Wednesday afternoon at the British Museum, they are likely on vacation.

In our study, we found that 3.5 percent of those who stayed in a London hotel then connected to a Wall Street office Wi-Fi network once back in New York. So, we can safely assume that the consumers comprising this 3.5 percent were likely finance people—traders or business leaders, perhaps—who travel to London for work.

Huge Savings and Higher Returns

How can advertisers across industries use these techniques to improve their ad campaigns? First, by separating out really specific consumer segments, brands can avoid targeting the wrong travelers—reducing waste and improving campaign performance. For instance, an ad for a high-end hotel chain for business travelers won’t be relevant for all passengers on the flight from New York to London. However, it will be useful for those that frequently go from Wall Street to Canary Wharf each month.

Advertisers can also use these insights to personalize their messages. A London-based tour guide could welcome the vacationing New Yorkers with a discounted trip to Stonehenge, for instance. When brands couple geo-fence data with detailed location intelligence, they’ll be able to hyper-segment their audiences at scale to reduce wastage and boost ad performance.

There’s no doubt that targeting travellers is a tricky a task. With so many people on the go across such a wide geography of locations, advertisers have their work cut out for them trying to keep track. However, location intelligence is the key to managing effective and successful campaigns. As our study has shown, by deploying these tools smartly advertisers are given the opportunity to gain insights that may have previously seemed invisible.

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Smart Trends: Beyond Digital Strategy


Smart Trends: Beyond Digital Strategy

Yesterday, Blis introduced Smart Trends, an analytics tool that offers robust in-store comparison of multiple location types and brands. The tool allows users to conduct demographic, contextual, time and weekday, and device type analysis from a single platform in order to compare behavior of user groups side by side.

While Smart Trends is certainly a hugely valuable tool for media buyers and campaign planners, this alone perhaps doesn’t do justice to the potential of mobile movement data. A range of industries and roles therein could benefit by its use, be it financial analysts, general managers, heads of operations, brand managers and so on. It could even be useful for city planners (more on that later).

What sets Smart Trends apart is its use of mobile movement data. This is a complex data set that overlays device ID, longitude and latitude, and timestamp data. It builds on traditional location data in that it represents a consumer’s location movement over time as opposed to just a snapshot.

There are other characteristics of the data that make it a valuable complement to existing sources: it’s raw – meaning it isn’t subject to how a survey question is worded – indeed it isn’t self-reported at all. It simply says this consumer, using this (fully anonymized) device, visited this location, viewed this content. Smart Trends has the ability to collect at scale, making it the ultimate dataset for people who want to know where their consumers are, and what they’re doing.

The true power of mobile movement data lies in how it could be blended with other data sources, particularly an organization’s first-party data, as well traditional market research. In other words, once you know where your consumers are and what they’re doing, you could combine it with myriad other sources to understand why they behave the way they do. This combination could yield game-changing competitive advantages.

For instance, most marketers know a great deal about their customers’ behaviors and how they interact with their brands. What marketers don’t know is how those behaviors relate to their competitors, or even their more general day-to-day behaviours. The ability to glean those insights via unbiased mobile movement data could allow organizations to apply that intelligence to a wide variety of business challenges, and make decisions with confidence.

Case in point: we used Trends to conduct a Global Retail Study comparing shopper behavior across seven countries which looked at foot traffic at H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Topshop and Zara locations across the globe. A key business decision for global retailers is selecting where to open new outlets, with common sense suggesting that it makes sense to open new stores away from their competitors. However, our foot traffic analysis in this study revealed that brands may actually benefit from shopper crossover. For example, H&M appears to benefit when located in areas where foot traffic is naturally high, as shoppers may be less inclined to go out of their way to visit them than they might a Topshop.

Though scale is possible with mobile movement data, it’s not always necessary, especially when used outside of media and advertising use cases. Often, the goal is nuanced. Were a retailer looking to determine where to open a new downtown outlet in a city, it goes without saying that they wouldn’t necessarily need to know shopper behaviors on a global, or even national, scale. Instead, they’d focus on how shoppers behave when they’re downtown. The point is that that datasets can be both broad or narrow depending upon your goal.

Smart Trends lets you look at foot traffic volume by brand, by store, or by very tight local areas, and allows you to quantify the relative importance of different factors, such as competitor proximity, store size, or number of stores around the country.

Analysis based on mobile movement data could also be useful to professionals in other fields, who perhaps need to gain an understanding of how people move to, from and around locations. City planners could use it to determine where to deploy traffic taming devices to protect pedestrians, expand cycle paths, and widen roads. They could also use it to determine where additional stop lights are needed.

To be sure, these are early days for mobile movement data, but we’re confident Smart Trends provides the foundation of what can be a transformative tool. As we begin to see how it’s blended with other data sources, we will see it enrich everything we thought we knew about our target markets and constituents.

If you haven’t seen the power of Smart Trends, I recommend downloading Mastering Consumer Trends: a Global Retail Study, a custom in-store and inter-store brand analysis of four global retailers using audience, contextual and location data.

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Mastering Consumer Trends: A Global Retail Study

White Paper

Mastering Consumer Trends: A Global Retail Study

How well do retailers know their customers? You may understand how consumers interact with your brand, but how do they behave with your competitors, or outside of the retail space?

Is it possible to even know?

Recently, Blis conducted a significant research study of four global brands (H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Topshop and Zara) in seven countries as a test to determine if it’s possible to arrive at these answers. We set specific goals:

  • Uncover insights on purchase intent, shopping patterns and mobile consumption — all while shopping.
  • Create a side-by-side behavioral comparison of user groups across the brands in multiple locations
  • Assess the value of mobile location data, combined with demographic and contextual data, in making a wide variety of business decisions.

We monitored 82 separate locations, some 250K unique shoppers, and 6.6 million bids. The results are available in our new eBook, Mastering Consumer Trends: A Global Retail Study.

Key Highlights

Our findings were insightful, and sometimes even counterintuitive. More than that, they were actionable across a wide variety of functions within the retail enterprise. A few of the highlights include:

  • In helping to identify outliers, mobile data can enable brands to capitalize on both scalable behavior in markets where a pattern exists, but also the opportunities (or threats) presented where behavior deviates from the norm.
  • Instinctively brands might prefer to open a new store away from their competitors, but foot traffic analysis shows us that they may actually benefit from shopper crossover.
  • Mobile location data provides marketers a non-biased factual perspective on your competitive marketplace. It can also be used to enrich first-party data and market research to get a more rounded view of shopper behavior.
  • Make the consumer experience of your brand consistent and frictionless as they switch between digital and physical interactions. Use location audience profiling to identify in-market consumers, then resurface your brand at key decision-making moments in the purchase journey.
  • In-store mobile behavior could just as easily indicate the beginning or the end of a purchase journey as the distinction between online and offline shopping continues to blur. Marketers should how they consider this when incorporating mobile into the rest of a cross-channel marketing plan.
Benefits to All Marketers

This report shows how the true value of mobile location data occurs when it’s blended with other demographic and contextual data sources, particularly an organization’s first-party data. As a marketer, once you know where your consumers are and what they’re doing, you can combine it with myriad other sources to understand why they behave the way they do. This combination can yield significant competitive advantages.

Download the eBook here.

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Blis voted National Venture-Backed Management Team of the Year


Blis voted National Venture-Backed Management Team of the Year

Blis was honoured to receive the award for National Venture-Backed Management Team of the Year at the BVCA Management Team Awards.

This marks the third consecutive month of wins for Blis after featuring in the Hiscox Tech Track 100, Deloitte Fast 50, EMMA Awards and MMA Smarties in previous months.

Take a look at the video below to see how backing by Beringea, Endeit Capital and Unilever Ventures has allowed Blis to accelerate growth and product innovation.

Click here to the BVCA Awards.

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From Moment Marketing to Marathon Marketing:  Why Retailers Need Both Short- and Long-term Thinking


From Moment Marketing to Marathon Marketing: Why Retailers Need...

On November 5th, thousands of runners traversed New York’s five boroughs in the annual New York City Marathon. After many long months of training and planning, the individuals put their bodies through the ultimate endurance test, taking long and steady strides for 26.2 miles.

What can marketers learn from these dedicated runners and the countless others who’ll be participating in marathons before the year is over?

For marketers, marathons are a useful reminder that their short-term efforts must be paired with a long-term vision. Runners sign up for the race with a long-term training plan. They outline a running and fitness schedule and stay focused for weeks and months before the race. When marathon day comes, they also have more specific and short-term plans about how fast to run, how often to refuel, and what to eat and when.

Like these long-distance runners, marketers need to couple their day-to-day advertising tactics with strategic, long-term plan: what we call “marathon marketing.”

Advertise in Sprints

A vast portion of media coverage for marketers includes tips and tricks for improving ad campaigns, reaching new leads and sparking more conversions. And there’s good reason for it: Effective advertising can have a big impact on consumer behavior—especially in what Google has termed “micro-moments”—tiny, individual instants in which consumers make mini-decisions about what they want to know, do, or buy.

With hyper-targeted advertising that zeroes in on the small but significant moments that make up the path to purchase, brands can sway consumers—inviting them to click, search, and buy. And with millennials checking their phones during these micro-moments over 150 times each day, there’s enormous potential for brands to make an impact.

Earlier this year, beverage brand Stella Artois saw how successful these short-term tactics could be. With Blis Futures, Stella harnessed the power of predictive analytics to identify their ideal audiences and reach out at the perfect moment. The result? More passersby decided to grab drinks at the local bar.

Running a Marketing Marathon

In addition to working on effective, short-term ad campaigns, brands also need a strategy for effective long-term marketing.

For retailers with longer sales cycles, this may come naturally. Since consumers don’t tend to buy expensive luxury products on a whim, a brand like Rolex would likely consider each ad campaign as just a small piece of a much larger strategy.

But marathon marketing matters for all retailers, not just fancy watch brands. Even CPG brands that count on consumers to make small, last-minute purchases need to think about their long-term goals. Let’s take a large store like Target, for instance, where a mobile banner ad might get a consumer to stop by. How can advertisers incorporate this mobile ad campaign into a long-term strategy?

They can continue to track that mobile device and work on building a relationship with that consumer. The more insights they gain from the device, the better they’ll be able to personalize future campaigns. By paying attention to where the consumer goes, the retailer may find out, for instance, that consumer goes to a local yoga studio near Target a couple times a week. The retailer can then follow up with her by suggesting she come check out their full range of yoga pants and other sports clothes next time she’s in the neighborhood.

When brands integrate their fast-paced advertising campaigns into a broader strategy, they’ll whip their marketing into shape and win over both old and new customers.

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Stay top of mind all the way to the till – The Retail Footfall Report


Stay top of mind all the way to the...

Economic indicators suggest that consumer caution looks set to increase. This means being top of mind becomes more important, and increasing mixed-commerce behaviour means you have to be top of mind all the way to the checkout – whether in-store or online.

In this infographic we summarize the current nature of retail behaviour and the factors that will impact it in 2018.

Click here to download The Retail Footfall Report.

Blis Retail Benchmark Report Blog

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Revive Black Friday Before It’s Too Late


Revive Black Friday Before It’s Too Late

Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005. But for many brick-and-mortar retailers, shopping the day after Thanksgiving just isn’t what it used to be.

In 2014, for instance, spending on Black Friday fell for the first time since 2008, down 11% from the previous year. In 2012, social media conversations about Black Friday dropped by 72 percent. And that’s not the worst of the bad news for retailers: Last year, only 23 percent of American adults said they planned to use the day to shop in stores.

Is this the start of the end for in-store shopping on every retailer’s favorite holiday?

Probably not. But what these recent trends suggest is that consumer enthusiasm for Black Friday is declining. And if retailers want to survive and thrive this holiday season, they’ll need to do more than rely on tired old routines and promotions.

So how can retailers revive Black Friday, reinvigorate sales, and reignite consumer interest? We offer three suggestions.

1. Learn from the Past

The first step to creating effective ad campaigns that entice consumers to visit on Black Friday is gaining a deep understanding of your ideal audience. Historical location data can provide brands with the rich insights they need to craft personalized and highly effective ad campaigns.

Let’s say a sports brand specializing in running shoes wants to target sporty individuals in the market for new sportswear. How can they be sure their target audience is comprised of runners in need of a sneaker upgrade? By looking at historical location data. With it, the brand can identify their ideal audience by singling out consumers who regularly visit the local gym, the smoothie bar, or the nearby Nike store.

2. Keep an Eye on the Apps

Advertisers can then couple their historical location data with other rich sources of information, such as app usage.

What can you learn about consumers based on the apps they use? A lot. This is what we quickly realized here at Blis, where we work with PushSpring, a company specializing in crafting ideal audiences based on app usage. A hotel chain, for example, can identify their perfect audience of frequent travelers by taking a look at which consumers regularly use the Kayak and Amtrak apps on their phone.

The sportswear brand in the section above, for example, can narrow their ideal audience down even further by focusing on consumers that use fitness apps. Or, if they are specifically trying to push their new range of running shoes, they can serve ads only to those individuals who regularly visit the gym and use a running app. Chances are these individuals would be more likely to buy an early Christmas gift and treat themselves to new running shoes.

3. Make In-store Moments Magical

In our digital world, it’s easier to browse products online then step foot in a store, so brands need to give consumers a reason to brave the Thanksgiving hangover and go out shopping on Black Friday.

Beacon technology—which lets brands know when consumers enter their stores—can help advertisers enhance the in-store experience and bring their brick-and-mortar stores to life.

This is what Macy’s did with their “Walk in and Win” campaign. In the lead-up to Black Friday, the brand used a beacon-enabled campaign to prompt consumers to download their app when they walked into a Macy’s store. Then, on Black Friday, in-store shoppers with the app received push notifications, inviting them to play the game and win prizes.

We may be seeing a waning desire among consumers to wake up at ungodly hours and face the long lines on Black Friday, but there’s still plenty that retailers can do to revamp the biggest retail weekend of the year. When they do, they—like Macy’s—will reap the rewards in terms of increased holiday sales and greater customer engagement.

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Want to Build Customer Loyalty During the Holidays? Start at Thanksgiving.


Want to Build Customer Loyalty During the Holidays? Start...

For many retailers, the holiday season starts after Thanksgiving—the day after, to be exact. On Black Friday, advertisers begin a month full of campaigns designed to lift sales throughout the holiday season—playing their catchy jingles and touting their unbeatable sales.

But brands looking for more than just an uptick in holiday sales will need to start well before shoppers rush through their doors Black Friday morning. In order to build relationships with consumers—and encourage engagement and loyalty—they’ll need to begin long before Thanksgiving.

How retailers engage with consumers ahead of the busy holiday season is key to sustaining a strong period of engagement and sales from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Location data can help every step of the way.

Get to Know One Another

Whether consumers are sharing what they’re grateful for around a turkey dinner or spending quality time with friends and family, the holiday season encourages warm conversation and togetherness. Brands, too, can take part in these conversations, using the holiday season to learn more about consumers and engage with them on a deeper level.

With historical location data, brands can discover how and where consumers spend their time, revealing their unique interests and habits. Such information can empower brands to refine their audiences and personalize their messages.

Let’s say a health food brand is looking to target shoppers who’d be interested in buying their products for holiday meals. First, the brand can identify which family members do the household grocery shopping by looking at which device IDs are regularly seen in the local grocery store.

But rather than reaching out to every grocery shopper, the brand should only target those who are health-conscious. How can they use location data to single out the consumers who are most likely to go for the healthy option? They can identify which consumers visit the gym at least twice a week.

To drill down even further, the brand can couple the historical location data with other data insights. By looking at online search histories, for example, the brand can identify which of those healthy gym members have searched online for low-carb or all-natural dinner recipes.

Have Personal Conversations

Once advertisers have identified their ideal audience, how can they start the conversation for the best results? They can deliver personalized messages at strategic times in the day.

Perhaps that health food brand wants to encourage shoppers to take advantage of an in-store Thanksgiving sale. They can use location data to deliver the ad at the time and place most likely to drive the consumer into the store. For instance, if the advertiser knows (thanks to historical location data) that the consumer goes to the grocery store Mondays and Wednesdays around 5:30 pm, they can serve an ad to the consumer’s mobile right before he gets into the car. Personalizing this ad further, the brand can also include something that will entice the consumer to stop by, like a 10 percent off coupon for a pumpkin pie made with natural ingredients.

The brand can also lend the consumer a helping hand once they get to the store. For example, the consumer can receive a useful ad reminding him where to go: “Check out aisle three for some healthy side dishes your Thanksgiving guests will love.”

By demonstrating care and concern for consumers at the start of the holiday season, brands can begin forming positive relationships with their audiences that will last from Turkey Day well into the new year.

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Welcome to the future


Welcome to the future

With super computers in our pockets, new screen sizes and an explosion in technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and holograms, mobile’s creative possibilities are richer than ever. By Jamie Hall

Almost half the world’s population has a smartphone and Facebook alone has more than a billion daily mobile active users.

Yet ads can be annoying, particularly on mobile. Fortunately, the industry is waking up to this harsh reality, albeit slowly. YouTube, for instance, has said it will pull its 30-second non-skippable ad format and, back in April, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard urged those in the business of advertising to make better content, declaring that P&G will be “focusing on fewer and better ideas.”

The fact is, while technology can change lives for the better, allowing us to interact in ways which seemed beyond the realms of possibility, the consumer is getting harder to impress.

And so, with ad blocking on the rise, and concerns around viewability and other challenges only increasing, it’s clear that marketers need to be more creative in how they reach consumers.

New platforms and technologies have the potential to drastically alter our lives but the ideal scenario for marketers remains the same: precise audience targeting and better media buying decisions. We can’t shy away from this challenge of building the future of advertising and, to this end, we must remember that technologies need to improve the consumer experience and not just make our lives as marketers easier or more convenient.

Brands need to offer both fun interactivity and practical application – i.e. entertainment and utility. What’s more, they will be expected to display their own unique identities across all platforms and interfaces to engage consumers in the way they want to be engaged, always recognising and rewarding customer loyalty.

It’s data that will enable this seemingly impossible feat. Today’s consumers are entrenched in their digital devices, yet the sheer amount of messages bombarding us each day makes it more difficult than ever to stand out. Advertising as we knew it in the 20th century is dead.

Life will be more automated. Customer service operatives will be personalised holograms. Public transport will be driverless. We’ll see bots doing our online shopping and consumers taking increasing control. Content and advertising will be indistinguishable, while ads will be filmed with 360-degree cameras and consumers will step into new, virtual worlds.

Screens will display images based on the information on your mobile – not just your gender and age, but your location, your purchase history, the brands you like and your friends.

Consumers are spending more time on digital media than ever before, and brands are merely playing catch up. Mobile will become the top destination for digital ad spending. Artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality will all help propel further digital ad growth. Advertisers will need to leverage geo-location data, if they aren’t already, looking back and looking ahead at all times to predict future opportunities, bridging the on and the offline worlds.

As such, brands must now shift to an inbound marketing strategy, providing value to their audience and applying creative intelligence: the marriage of creativity and technology. A slicker, more personalised future awaits us all.

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3 Attribution Questions You Should Be Asking


3 Attribution Questions You Should Be Asking

Attribution — the process of figuring out how various marketing touchpoints help lead to a conversion—is key to effective marketing. It gives advertisers insight into what’s working and what isn’t, enabling them to reduce waste and optimize their campaigns. This, in turn, can help inform future media budgets and boost ROI.

In short, accurate attribution and measurement are big wins for marketers. So it’s no wonder 81 percent of them said it was their focus in 2017.

But let’s face it: Attribution is hard. The customer journey today is more complex than ever, as consumers move seamlessly between smart TVs, smart phones, desktops and tablets. As a consequence, it then becomes difficult for marketers to measure ROI properly So difficult in fact that 40 percent of marketers consider proving ROI their top challenge.

To overcome these challenges, marketers shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. In fact, by turning to the experts, they can significantly improve attribution and measurement.

At Blis, we recently partnered with a suite of data partners. Here’s how brands take advantage of these partnerships to improve attribution and measurement.

1. Are you sure the right people are seeing your ads?

The first step is trying to make sure you’re engaging the right audiences. The aim is to engage category and brand buyers at scale with relevant messages in the right moments to minimize waste. You can then use that data to help measure how effectively campaigns are reaching those buyers.

This is where Oracle Data Cloud comes in, who create advanced audience segments using purchase-based data. For example, we set up a campaign with a household soap brand that began with identifying our target audience: women aged 25 to 45 who’d been seen at places parents usually go. Oracle Data Cloud then segmented this further by identifying those who had previously bought that brands’ soap product. If certain consumers consistently fail to respond to an ad, either by clicking or visiting the store, the advertisers can decide to leave them out next time.

2. So, they saw your ad. Did they go inside?

Earlier this year, we merged our powerful location data with Unacast, the world’s largest beacon network, to help our clients improve targeting and attribution. Through this partnership, we now have access to aisle-specific foot traffic data from retailers across the country including CVS, Target, and Duane Reade.

What does this data do for advertisers? It allows them to determine which of the consumers exposed to their campaigns actually set foot inside a store. That means advertisers can understand how their proximity campaigns performed and drove foot traffic—and how much. They can also use this data to optimize their campaigns further.

3. They went inside. But did they buy your product?

Thanks to beacons, you can find out when consumers step foot inside certain brick-and-mortar stores. But how can you be sure they actually purchased your products once inside?

Enter data analytics partners RSi’s Ansa and IRI. With access to their extensive purchase data, Blis’ clients can more accurately measure in-store sales uplift as a result of digital campaigns. RSi’s Ansa provides our clients with daily, store-level POS-data to measure the impact of digital ads on in-store sales uplift at nation’s leading retailers, while IRI provides point-of-sale data from leading retailers and CPG companies from around the globe.

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iPhone X is the Next Baby Step in Total Mobile Disruption


iPhone X is the Next Baby Step in Total...

With the iPhone X launch on the horizon, Apple fans are waiting with baited breath to get their hands on the “iPhone of the future.” The bigger, lighter, thousand-dollar smartphone will be available for pre-order on 17 October and will be AR-ready, waterproof, and feature an edge-to-edge display.

There are features that might excite marketers, but most of us recognise that the smartphone market has really reached a plateau. We’re currently sitting on the mezzanine in the s-curve of innovation, where we’ve really taken a rectangular piece of glass as far as it can go technologically. It’s surprising that consumers may still clamor for a higher-resolution camera or a faster processor when the difference in performance will be entirely imperceptible to most – indeed, they’re expected to sell out almost instantly – but this is arguably as much of a testament to their marketing as it is their product. I suspect the sheen will wear off soon enough, particularly at such a high price point, and especially when the platform itself hasn’t changed much.

New Features

The iPhone X’s most anticipated features, like pre-installed Augmented Reality (AR) technology and facial recognition, are interesting. I wonder how Apple intends to use these features moving forward: when you think about the early games that came pre-loaded on PCs like Solitaire and Minesweeper, they were intended to train users to improve their drag-and-drop skills. Since the future of Windows was so dependent upon users being adept with a mouse, these games were quite purpose-driven and effective.

With that in mind, think of the way Apple introduced AirPods last year with the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2. The AirPods encouraged users to leave their Bluetooth on all the time, a habit many users resisted in the name of longer battery life. In fact, the new Apple phones have Bluetooth switched on by default. For brands and marketers, that represents a massive mobile opportunity, should it reach any kind of scale.

From a marketing perspective, the AR capabilities exciting as well, and certainly worthy of the buzz they’re receiving. That said, marketers will have to use AR cleverly, or the novelty will quickly wear off. As with most adverts, AR ads will only be effective if they’re useful or funny – “cool” only goes so far. There may be some exciting uses for AR with regard to mapping. It could be quite futuristic – a next step in dynamic mapping – as well as useful, if advertisers overlaid promotional messaging outside their stores when users pull up maps on their mobile devices. There will be a lot of potential use cases for this technology, so don’t be surprised if the latest iPhone turns out to be a Trojan Horse surreptitiously opening us up to new ways of interacting with the technology of Apple’s expanding ecosystem.

New ways to interact

AR and Bluetooth will change how users interact with their phones and mobile ads, even if the device design itself does not. Mobile handset capabilities still have room to grow. Today we treat our phones like digital newspapers because of their flat form factor.

But phones are just the jumping-off point! The Apple Watch and AirPods are the real game-changers and will likely prove to be far more disruptive than the iPhone 8 or X. These new “accessories” are already encouraging the move to a perpetually Bluetooth-connected device. That could mean that phones spend more time in the pocket as users spend more time looking at their wrists, listening wirelessly, and commanding verbally. The Apple Watch enables users to check their email and take calls. Runners can map routes on the watch, with or without their phones. Music can be streamed from the watch to the AirPods.

The iPhone is now becoming more of a hub in Apple’s ecosystem, which in addition to the Apple Watch and AirPods, also includes the Mac, iPad, AppleTV and soon-to-be-released HomePod (possibly intended to take on the role of hub device?). The watch and AirPods may replace the phone as the visible devices in a user’s portfolio of Apple products, which may mean that marketers need to start thinking more about the importance of audio ads as well as their own sonic identity in an increasingly voice-powered age of tech interaction.

To sum things up, the iPhone X itself won’t have a tremendous impact on marketers – not on its own. But it’s part of an accelerating and ongoing disruption that should keep us all on our toes and thinking ahead. Whether this disruption means greater access to users via Bluetooth, that we should be experimenting with Augmented Reality ads, or that a screen-free mobile universe is on the horizon, remains to be seen. It’s safe to say we should watch everything – and be prepared for anything.

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How to unlock creativity on video


How to unlock creativity on video

With video playing a dominant role in today’s ever-growing advertising armoury, Jamie Hall, Creative Manager, Blis looks at how to get the best out of this popular format.

The early days of mobile advertising were inundated with video ads that were slow to load. Even when they eventually did, many phones couldn’t display them properly.

Today, delivered almost instantly and in HD quality, video ads can engage users unlike any other advertising format, and they tend to offer high click-through rates as a result.

So it’s no surprise that video plays a prominent role in advertising today. As a format, it can also generate emotional cues more effectively than a photo or print ad, offering the ability to tell a story in an engaging and visually pleasing way.

It has long been said that, when it comes to the psychology of persuasion, there are two routes to effectiveness. First comes the so-called ‘central’ route, which refers to situations whereby the consumer wants or needs the product, and makes decisions based on facts and logic. The ‘peripheral’ route, on the other hand, is when decisions are made based on more superficial stimuli, also known as “cues”, such as colour and music.

Fortunately, it’s also possible to distil a few golden rules when it comes to ensuring video advertising effectiveness. For starters, the average attention span for video viewers is under ten seconds – and this is likely to keep falling. As with all advertising, we need to understand our target audience and what makes them tick. Only then can we use colour and sound to craft a story and stimulate the senses.

Thanks to mobile apps like Snapchat and Instagram, 2016 was the year when square and vertical video broke through for good. Facebook’s vertical video ad format went live last Autumn, and new iterations are now following.

But above all, and new technologies and possibilities aside, video needs to tell a story. Aim for simplicity, pace, entertainment and/or utility. Fortunately, mobile technology has evolved to a level where marketers can leverage high production quality video into the palms of consumers in seconds.

And, it may sound obvious, but don’t forget to ensure your product plays a central role. Mobile ads allow for conversion – and the tracking of it – directly from the ad.

Online video advertising is growing fast and has a high click-through rate compared to many other formats. Prices are becoming more accessible, too, yet, according to Business Insider, while web video advertising is exploding, “that doesn’t mean people like all those pre-roll ads … In fact, the only thing people dislike more than pre-rolls are those universally reviled mobile pop-up ads.”

Advertising today needs to influence, as opposed to force-feed, its audience. In a world where advertisers clamour with one another for users’ attention, originality and creativity are needed today more than ever.

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New Collaborations to Improve Measurement of In-Store Sales


New Collaborations to Improve Measurement of In-Store Sales

Shopper marketers everywhere are quickly realizing that if they want their digital advertising efforts to lead to greater foot traffic and in-store sales, location data is key.

In fact, spending on location-based advertising is expected to grow by 24 percent per year, reaching $29.5 billion in 2020. But in order to reap the benefits of location-based advertising, brands should couple their location data with other advanced audience data and analytics capabilities.

This is exactly why Blis has recently teamed up with four leading data and analytics companies. By collaborating with Oracle Data Cloud, RSi’s Ansa, IRI and PushSpring, Blis is enabling its clients to reach hyper-targeted audience segments and improve sales attribution. “These strategic relationships will provide our clients with a wealth of opportunities to maximize ROI,” said Gil Larsen, VP Americas at Blis.

Oracle Data Cloud

Oracle Data Cloud creates advanced audience segments using purchase-based data plus lifestyle, online behavioral, demo and more across 91 percent of U.S. households. This enables Blis’ clients to target category and brand buyers at scale, with relevant messages, to minimize waste. That same data can also be used to help measure how effectively campaigns are reaching those buyers.

Blis’ recent campaign with a major household soap brand provides a prime example. Wanting to increase sales at Kroger, the brand began by identifying its ideal audience: women ages 25 to 45 who had been previously seen at Kroger stores and parent-centric locations such as elementary schools. With Oracle Data Cloud, the soap brand segmented their ideal audience further by identifying which of those women had previously purchased the soap brands’ products. By serving ads to this specific subset of consumers when they approached a Target store, the brand saw higher engagement and conversation rates.

Ansa powered by RSi

RSi’s Ansa analytics solution enables Blis CPG customers to measure and maximize the performance of their shopper marketing campaigns running in support of the nation’s leading retailers. Ansa provides the intelligence they need in order to automatically plan, target, and measure the impact of Blis shopper marketing campaigns, based on their daily, store-level POS-data.

“We are very excited about this new partnership with Blis, the global pioneer in advanced, innovative location data solutions. In the extremely fast paced shopper marketing environment, the partnership between Blis and Ansa will help advertisers connect with consumers on their devices in real-time even more efficiently and effectively” shares Michael Quinn, General Manager for Ansa at Retail Solutions Inc.


IRI provides point of sale data enabling brands to measure in-store sales uplift as a result of digital media campaigns. ​This new partnership is empowering Blis’ clients to improve attribution and make informed targeting decisions.

What might this look like in reality? First, IRi identifies stores where a brand’s sales are underperforming compared to other products in the same category. Next, Blis identifies—and targets—devices near these underperforming stores that match the brand’s target audience. ​These tactics will help brands maximize sales uplift and ROI.


“By creating different audiences based on which apps consumers own, PushSpring is helping brands find and reach a more accurate audience,” said Brandon Zirkle, PushSpring VP. A sports brand looking to reach out to fitness enthusiasts, for example, may target individuals who own workout apps to track their running patterns and calories. Similarly, a person who owns’s shopping app may be someone who likes buying low-cost, wholesale items. A brand looking to drive in-store sales may benefit from a campaign designed to get her to visit a nearby Walmart.

By merging the powerful capabilities of these third-party companies with Blis’ advanced location data and technology, these partnerships are helping shopper marketers across North America craft hyper-targeted and highly effective campaigns.

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Moving beyond clicks, taps and swipes with creative


Moving beyond clicks, taps and swipes with creative

As new buying models proliferate, in a constant game of catch up with ongoing technological innovations, marketers are slowly starting to move beyond click-based measurements.

Old habits die hard, or at least that’s true in the world of online advertising.

And when it comes to quantifying engagement in the digital era, our obsession with click-through rates isn’t helping.

In this new age of advertising, one which is growing in complexity but also capability, it’s high time marketers looked beyond clicks, taps, or even swipes.

Indeed, thanks to the likes of fingerprint scanners and high-quality cameras, consumers can interact with their smartphones in ever-newer ways. Advertisers need to consider this growing array of native smartphone functions. They must also recognise the importance of emotion as well as logic, and ensure creativity is harnessed to its fullest extent, encouraging interaction and engaging in ways which reflect the sophistication of the technologies at our disposal.

Whether we’re tilting, shaking, or simply speaking into our phones, many of the capabilities they now boast lie largely untapped. Given the huge variety of functions are smartphones now have, why would we seek to click on a banner ad which we can barely read?

In an earlier age of the internet, the obsession with click-throughs made sense. The first display ads were new and exciting and online behaviour was easier to quantify. These days, display ads are likely often clicked on accidentally rather than deliberately, while bots make it their business to find and click on banner ads, too.

Retailers with a high street presence must use store visit data to understand how online marketing activity influences visits to their real-world outlets. Reports can be created using aggregated, anonymous mobile location data, which can be used to gauge the number of users who have both clicked on an advert and visited a store.

The technology exists to see how campaigns contribute to retail footfall, to gain insight into the difference in behaviour between mobile and desktop users, and to see the impact of search activity. All this enables us to optimise campaigns accordingly.

Since the arrival of Amazon Echo and Google Home, we are now in the era of voice search. Pay Per Click models will not translate well here; advertising as we know it is going to change.

There are so many options. Whether it’s heatmaps, eye-tracking, or counting shares and conversions we use to try to unpick how to measure ad impressions, we must not lose sight of the need for creativity.

And while it’s true that we need to give credit where it is due, this is not easy in a world which seems to be turning at faster and faster. But, by ensuring a focus on creativity as opposed to clicks, we are halfway there.

“It’s the way it’s always been done,” is not only an all-too-familiar refrain; it’s also anathema to creativity.

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Closing the Retailer Purchase Loop: Solving the Challenge of Attribution


Closing the Retailer Purchase Loop: Solving the Challenge of...

You’re on your way to work when you pass a billboard featuring Nike’s newest running shoe. That reminds you: you just signed up for a half marathon, so you’ll need some new gear. You start googling top-of-the-line running shoes on your phone. You forget about the race until days later when looking at Facebook on your laptop, and there they are: the same shoes that caught your eye. Still, you won’t purchase them until you try them on. So what a pleasant surprise when, on your walk home, a banner ad appears across your phone: “You’re 3 minutes from a Nike store,” it says. Why not stop by?

If you go into that store and purchase those shoes, which ad was it that led to the conversion? Was it the original billboard, the social media ad, or the location-based banner? Perhaps a perfect combination of all three?

These questions reflect the challenges every marketer is currently facing when it comes to attribution. Today, a typical path to purchase is no longer a straight line to the point of sale. It looks more like a latticework of ads both online and offline, on our devices or in our neighborhoods.

Yet despite this added complexity, brands can begin to solve the mystery of attribution and determine the value of each marketing touchpoint. They just need to follow the footsteps.

Understanding Footsteps to Purchase

Brands can get a better understanding of which campaigns are boosting their ROI by taking a look at how digital ads directly relate to foot traffic.

First, advertisers can conduct an A/B test to determine which ads are bringing people into their brick-and-mortar retailers. By comparing how many devices were seen in store from an exposed group (devices that received an ad) to a control group (devices that didn’t receive an ad), brands can figure out what’s working and how well. This is the kind of study we conducted on a series of CPG brands earlier this year—where we found an astonishing 47 percent uplift in foot traffic for the exposed group.

Location data can also reveal more than just how many devices made it into stores. It can also tell advertisers the average time it takes for someone to enter a store after seeing an ad, or which locations are performing best. Brands can also layer this data with purchase histories and sales data for even more insightful stats and figures into how their customers are responding to ads.

So once brands have uncovered all these clues into what’s driving conversions and how, what do they do with it all?

Step Up Your Campaigns

Brands don’t strive for accurate attribution just for the sake of it. They want to know what’s causing conversions so they can do more of it—and cut out what might not be working at all.

An energy drink brand, for example, can use data about foot traffic and sales to make sure the next iteration of their campaign performs even better. Let’s say the brand discovers that people are 50 percent more likely to go into a store that stocks the energy drink when they receive an ad within 200 feet of the retailer. Rather than targeting everyone within 500 feet of the retailer, the brand can eliminate waste by just reaching out to those within a much smaller radius.

What if advertisers discover that no matter what distance, more people seem to be purchasing the energy drink from Walgreens than CVS? Perhaps next time, they can put a greater share of their ad budget into targeting those near Walgreens.

By solving some of the mysteries around attribution by finding which campaigns are driving sales, advertisers can continuously optimize their campaigns. And that means less waste and a greater bang for every marketing buck.

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How Blis Filters Bad Data


How Blis Filters Bad Data

As we’ve underscored in previous posts in this series, bad data is an ongoing concern in our industry. While it isn’t necessarily deliberate or fraudulent, quality issues make an enormous percentage of available data unusable for advertising purposes. At Blis, we’re incredibly vigilant about ensuring the quality of the data we pass on to our clients. Ultimately, only about ~20 percent of data collected meets our stringent standards.

Part of our approach is that all data is “guilty until proven innocent.” Because we understand the negative impact bad data can have on campaign results, we use several filters to weed out anything that may be inaccurate or phony. The majority of that bad data is identified through the three filters, which we referenced earlier in this series:

  • Centroids: When visualized data falls into grids, straight lines or symmetrical shapes on a map, this is the result of broad-reaching centroids, which may deliver generally accurate but highly imprecise data.
  • Precision: Blis considers lat/long data of three data points or less too imprecise to deploy in programmatic campaigns.
  • Uniques: When curiously large volumes of data originate from a single lat/long – a space that is only square millimeters in size, that’s a red flag.

These filters alone remove the majority of bad information from the pool, but there are other patterns we scan for, as well, which may indicate that data does not achieve our quality standards.

  • VPN: For a variety of reasons, users may access the internet through a virtual private network, or VPN. When I’m abroad, for example, I will use a VPN app to access television shows that can only be viewed in the UK. The VPN app makes is appear as if my phone is still in the UK, so I’m able to watch my shows. While that’s convenient for me as a user, it does create inaccurate data regarding my whereabouts. Fortunately, it’s easy for Blis algorithms to detect VPN access, so this data containing VPN information would not be permitted into our pool.
  • Equator or Greenwich Test: Lat/long data, as we’ve seen, is numeric and contains a series of three to eight decimal places. However, if one of decimal series is zeroed out, it would mean that a user is either sat on the equator (zero latitude) or the Greenwich Meridian (zero longitude). While it’s very possible for someone to be on the Greenwich Meridian, since it passes through London, if we receive a series of bid requests where the lat or long is zeroed out in every request, we can assume it’s not accurate. This is typically due to a bug of some kind rather than fraud, but regardless – it renders that data both inaccurate and unusable.
  • No Country Code or Mismatched Country Code: Sometimes, we’ll receive data with no country request attached. These will often show lat/long in the middle of the ocean or outside any known territory boundary. In these cases, we’ll assume the carrier or publisher doesn’t know where the user is, and consider that data unusable. When there’s a mismatch between the country code and the lat/long, we once again know that the data is not right, and consider it untrustworthy and unusable in most cases. Interestingly, these mismatches can occasionally be used to target tourists. For example, if their phone’s country code is in the UK, but the lat/long information places the user in the US, we can generally assume that this is a UK visitor visiting America.

While these filters are tight enough to prevent ~75 percent of bad data from getting through, there are additional, proprietary filters Blis uses to ensure our clients are getting the cleanest data available. For additional assurance, SmartPin brings transparency to the process, allowing clients to access and visualize the data for themselves.

Blis is committed to delivering the cleanest, most precise, and most accurate location data on the market. We understand that scale is sacrificed in the process: less data means less scale, of course. However, we’re confident in the quality. We know the targets are good. And we’re fairly sure that you’d rather have a trim and efficient campaign that hits exactly the right targets than a huge, scattershot campaign that hits none of them. Better data yields better results, period.

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Five Questions with Alex Wright, Head of Insights


Five Questions with Alex Wright, Head of Insights

Alex Wright, Head of Insights at Blis, is about to celebrate his one year anniversary with us. To mark his milestone, we thought we’d let you get to know him better with an Insights Series. To kick it off, we’ve asked Alex to answer these four questions that provide insight into the industry, the company, and Alex’s own world. Follow this series’ hashtag for more with Alex.

1. In your own words – and in one sentence or less – what does Blis do?

Blis converts mobile data into behavioural observations, which (hopefully!) gives us insights that other sources cannot provide.

2. And how does your role relate to that mission?

We process so much information every hour, every minute, every second – just huge volumes of data. My role is take that information understand its origins, use it to test hypotheses or challenge preconceptions, and turn it into a tangible story, that answers their questions and contributes to how they solve their business problems.

This role didn’t formally exist at Blis before I joined the company, so firstly I needed to understand what the business is about, where it fits into the location mobile ecosystem, where mobile location fits within the mobile ecosystem, and where mobile fits into the wider media context. I want to find the best way to portray our qualities and the unique work that Blis does.

I’ve been working in media, audience and consumer research roles for 12 years, and spent eight years of that working in traditional media. Before Blis, I worked with Google at a media agency, which was my first step into digital media. I learned there that the real challenge is to keep up rather than catch up, but more importantly that the digital ‘exhaust fumes’ of people’s natural behaviour create a lot of passive information we can use to better understand them.

3. In the last year, what stands out as Blis’s major milestones?

I think the milestones have been incremental rather than real revelations – evolution, not revolution. Blis is no longer a startup; today it’s a scale-up. In the months I’ve been here, we’ve nearly doubled in size. We’ve laid down roots in many markets where we had no presence previously, which gives us the opportunity to do a lot of interesting work where behavior doesn’t necessarily conform the pattern established in supposedly more developed Western markets. It’s particularly exciting that a lot of these are underserved by other forms of media, meaning mobile is often first access point to the internet.

It’s also been an interesting year in this part of the industry because there’s been a lot of scrutiny around location data. Blis, to its credit, has not been defensive in its response. Rather we’ve taken it as an opportunity to make sure we’re on top of our technology and to continue improving our products in-line with market expectations, letting natural selection dictate which players succeed.

4. What is the best thing about working in ad tech?

My favourite thing about this industry, which I’ve seen in abundance at Blis, is the attitude. Everyone seems to have this very can-do attitude: if there’s something we’re not currently doing that people want us to do, everyone is eager to give a try. Let’s see if we can do it. And if we’re not the first to do it, let’s try to be the best. It’s very energising.

5. What’s something people at work may not know about you?

Most people don’t know I’m a musician. I play guitar. I once played at a wedding at Dromoland castle in Ireland – alongside the 2006 All-Ireland Fiddle Champion, no less! It was pretty amazing. Better than the time I was second on the bill to Bjorn Again, the UK’s number one ABBA tribute act.

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Promiscuous Shopper 2.0


Promiscuous Shopper 2.0

Happy 10th Anniversary

August saw the 10th anniversary of the Credit Crunch: Mervyn King (then Governor of The Bank of England) had to cut short his holiday, Northern Rock bore the brunt of the first run on a UK bank in 150 years, and soon thereafter the epidemic of Affluenza claimed its final victims as unambiguous ostentation gave way to full-frontal frugality.

Saving became the new spending

Money changed hands less freely as consumer caution hit retailers, which in turn hit manufacturers and distributors, and the economy seized up. The recession took hold, and Austerity (now a noun, rather than an adjective) measures were implemented in an effort to balance the national P&L.

Rise of The Discounters

The Retailers’ response to this reverse-consumerism was to engage in promotion-warfare, a battle in which there were ultimately no winners. On the high street sales started earlier, lasted longer, and found more spaces in the calendar – all before Black Friday became a thing in the UK.

In the grocery aisles, the Big Four commenced a race to the bottom, squeezing their margins (and their suppliers) in order to offer shoppers the ‘lowest prices’ – not to be confused with the ‘best value’.

When they got to the bottom they met The Discounters – a new breed of supermarket stocking unfamiliar brands at low prices – at this point viewed more as a curiosity than a viable threat. An aggressive store opening schedule, set against a backdrop of continued wage stagnation has since seen Aldi and Lidl being taken increasingly seriously by their peers.

2007 vs. 2017 (losing shoppers vs. losing frequency)

When the dust settled on the Credit Crunch, and consumers were taking their first tentative steps into the valley of recession, the notion of a Promiscuous Shopper became a newsworthy topic. The difference between then and now is that – thanks to the mass uptake of smartphones, and their use of location data – we’re better equipped to quantify the nature and nuance of this promiscuity.

In 2007, while a personal ‘promiscuous shopping’ experience meant the occasional trade-up or trade-down, the blunt-edged measurement tools available at the time suggested an abrupt switch of store, rather than the nuanced reality of considered trading up or down. This resulted in an exaggerated Nth degree of promiscuity where the outcome was binary: you either stayed with your regular shop or ditched it entirely. The reality – as is often the case, and that we can now explore in more detail – is less sensational, but more complex.

The Promiscuous Shopper

The notion of Loyalty in grocery shopping is a misleading one: what is really a habit, motivated by necessity, and executed based primarily on convenience has been conflated as Loyalty. In opening new stores, Aldi and Lidl addressed the number one reason why people use the shops they do: convenience.

They already had the low prices, so now they had to address perception issues, aka brand image. They did this by knowing their key points of differentiation (non-UK brands), and explicitly marketing them: ‘our odd-looking, unfamiliar brand is just as good as your household-name one, but cheaper’. And they’ve won awards, and come out top in blind taste tests.

In two years both Aldi and Lidl have moved up a place each in Kantar’s grocery market share rankings – growing their share by a combined 2.5%, while the Big Four have shed 2.7% between them.

Partial Truth

The proliferation of smartphone ownership since 2007 has meant that a majority of people now carry a tracking device with them at all times. We can see whether a device seen at one retailer is seen at a different retailer the following week.

Location is an important complementary data source, adding to the existing depth of first-party and breadth of third-party data. As we accrue these device-linked data points it enables us to better understand shopper behaviour – after all, just because we’ve seen a person at your store, does not make them your shopper.

For that reason, it’s imperative that we work to blend data sources – first party (e.g. store-card data), third-party (lifestyle and attitudinal surveys), and location – to overcome the limitations of each source to get us closer to a more complete version of the truth.

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Meet, Greet and Keep: How Mobile Can Help Brands Throughout the Sales Funnel


Meet, Greet and Keep: How Mobile Can Help Brands...

Our mobile devices give us more than just a way to call or text friends and family: Today, they are our maps, books, radios, and miniature shopping malls. We turn to them for news, entertainment and answers. And from dawn till dusk, we keep them at our sides like our most faithful companions.

So it’s no wonder mobile devices have become integral to an advertiser’s ability to reach their ideal audiences at every stage of the sales funnel. Here’s how brands can employ effective mobile advertising strategies to acquire, engage and retain customers.

Win Over New Customers

One of the best ways for advertisers to identify new audiences is to see where they shop. But without access to a competitor’s first-party purchase data or information about their website traffic, how can advertisers find this out?

Mobile devices provide the answer. By revealing where consumers go, mobile location data can tell brands which consumers spend their time browsing similar products at a competitor’s store. Let’s say Target wants to reach out to consumers who usually shop at Walmart. They can use location data to identify—then target—those who frequently visit the competitor yet still live near a Target store.

But brands need to be careful before jumping to conclusions about consumers. Real-time location data provides important insights, but they can be strengthened when paired with historical location data.

For example, just because someone visits a high-end boutique like Chanel, it doesn’t mean that person has the budget to shop there—they could just be browsing. How can an upscale fashion brand find out which of those Chanel visitors are actually potential shoppers? Here, historical location data can help. It can reveal, for instance, which of those visitors go to private airports a few times a month or regularly visit Giorgio Armani or Versace stores. Chances are, these consumers will be a better bet for the fashion brand seeking to acquire new customers.

Keep Them Interested

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? For most of us, it’s look at our phones to turn off our alarms before checking the weather and scrolling through our Twitter feeds. And throughout the day, we continue to stare down into the faces of our mobile devices: checking the news on the train, sending an email between meetings, or watching videos from our living room sofas.

In order to engage consumers on the devices we use day in and day out, advertisers will need to serve ads that make sense for the consumer depending on where they are during the day. To do this, advertisers must first ask the question: What do consumers want to see on their mobile devices and when? Consumers spend a third of their time online watching videos, for instance, but they aren’t going to watch a 30-second video ad while walking down the street.

To boost engagement, brands can use knowledge about a consumer’s historical and real-time whereabouts to reach out at the time and place that will produce the greatest level of engagement. To effectively grab the attention of a consumer that’s out and about, a banner ad may work best. Later that evening, when the consumer is at home using a tablet or laptop, a longer video on a larger screen may work well.

Inspire Loyalty

How can brands make sure they retain the new and existing customers they’ve worked so hard to gain? They must first recognize and show appreciation for their most loyal customers.

Most advertisers identify loyal customers by looking at newsletter subscriptions and online purchase histories, but they may be missing other valuable customers who prefer to shop in stores. By identifying devices that frequently visit a brand’s store location, advertisers can make sure they are recognizing—and thanking—all their biggest fans. When an existing customer comes into a store a certain number of times, for example, advertisers can deliver a thank-you message—perhaps offering the loyal customer a generous coupon to redeem in-store.

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We’re still underinvesting in mobile


We’re still underinvesting in mobile

To unlock the creativity of mobile, it must not be seen as a bolt-on.

Media owners, brands, and agencies need to collaborate to create successful mobile campaigns. This is true from when starting to develop the media plan through to the resulting creative execution and optimisation, yet still many brands persist in repurposing advertising made for other media.

So it’s not surprising that, as an industry, we don’t tend to create truly memorable mobile ads.

The untapped potential is staggering. When executed properly, mobile can allow for the ultimate creative experience. When it comes to storytelling and creating an emotional connection with the user, this highly personal media is hard to beat.

Despite its smaller screen size, there’s an argument to be made that mobile allows for greater creativity and engagement than desktop, thanks to the intimacy of the device and the ability to track real-time location data.

Yet today it’s hard to deny that, if you hold up the average mobile ad next to an equivalent commercial on TV, the creative is likely to pale in comparison. Looking at mobile creative across banners, MPUs and video, it can feel like it’s easier to find examples that are terrible than it is to find truly effective built-for-mobile experiences. Many banner ads have simply been shrunk from a desktop version.

Sadly, there’s a perception that you can’t be creative with banners on mobile. This is partly a result of the fact that, all too often, mobile advertising is an afterthought or a bolt-on. For all the talk of ‘mobile-first’, the channel is frequently inheriting whatever assets have already been created. And despite the fact that mobile video was the fastest-growing format in the IAB’s UK 2016 digital ad report, when it comes to building mobile video, many opt to simply recycle a TV ad.

Re-editing the video to a more mobile-friendly length isn’t enough. If you don’t believe me, take the fact that TV ads are shot for a landscape screen, for instance, whereas most mobile users are likely to be holding their device vertically.

The great thing about advertising in the 21st Century is that we have so many new canvases to paint our ideas onto. But with so many adverts and messages being served daily, consumers have developed coping mechanisms to help filter the noise. Creativity is an absolute must, not a nice to have.

Campaigns are becoming more complex as technological developments evolve and they require marketers, agencies and tech partners to collaborate. In the future things are only going to speed up. Advertising formats will respond to live events in real time and immersive formats, powered by developer tools such as ARKit and ARCore, will become standard. Yet today we are still grappling with the differences between consuming content on mobile versus desktop.

Let’s demand more of ourselves. Soon, the mobile experience will be redefined once again thanks to voice interfaces such as Amazon Echo, image recognition in search and augmented reality – all of which will open up avenues for engagement more widely than ever before.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of mobile in today’s digital marketing landscape. Running a smart mobile campaign means taking the time to design it for mobile audiences. From site design to email templates, social engagement to paid search, plan for mobile across the board. With geolocation, deep linking, Beacons, payments, sensors, touch ID and activity trackers at your fingertips, there’s no excuse not to.

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Why Being Unique Matters in Location Data


Why Being Unique Matters in Location Data

At Blis, we generally only approve a small percentage of the location data that comes into us. On a recent day in the US, we passed just 22 percent of the publishers that sent us data. That means only 15,000 passed, while another 54,000 failed. Of that failed data, 40 percent was from centroids, 16 percent was not precise enough, and another 28 percent was “unique.”

Before we get any deeper into this post, let’s clarify what we mean by “uniques” here. We’re not talking about unique devices or device IDs as you may assume. We’re actually talking about unique latitude/longitude data.

Uniques are important in this context because, as you may recall from our last post, we get pretty granular in our lat/long data – down to the location of a single person or tree, and sometimes even more precise than that. This translates to five or six decimal places in each lat/long data point, so while there may be handful of mobile devices accessing the internet at any one given moment in time at any single lat/long, there usually aren’t more than that.

With that in mind, imagine if you saw two million impressions coming from a single lat/long point in day. Even though you’re probably not a data scientist or analyst, you would probably find that data suspect, right?

In fact, this maps back to the reason why Blis developed our SmartPin technology. Years ago, our team was running a campaign for a mobile brand in the UK that was targeting consumers within a five-minute walk of certain big phone stores. The campaign setup geofences of about 500 meters around ten stores in major cities. After four or five days of collecting data, we noticed that 95 percent of the data was coming from a single store in Manchester. That seemed strange because, although Manchester is a major city, it does not represent 20 times the population of the other cities included in the campaign. It just didn’t make any sense.

We dug in and analyzed the data. We visualized it, and once it was mapped out, we were able to really see the problem: a full 99.5 percent of all the data was coming from a single point on the map. That’s suspicious enough, but take into consideration that a point on the map for us is less than square meter – down to the “individual trees” to “individual humans” level. It’s literally impossible to replicate in the real world: To have this many mobile devices (millions, in this case) in one spot, they’d have to:

  1. Be stacked in a pyramid in a precise area of less than one square meter
  2. All be accessing the internet at the same time
  3. All sending bid requests at the same time

It hardly seems likely. What does seem likely is that all these users were not actually within the geofence. They were likely users elsewhere in Manchester, and some less-than-respectable publisher had randomly picked a spot within the city to assign to these users – and it happened to be within our campaign area. Unfortunately, we had bought all of that bad data, and we obviously couldn’t use it.

This was the first time the team had seen this happen, and we began to realize how much bad data could potentially be out there. We knew we had to find a solution to protect our clients, since data this inaccurate could negatively impact or even ruin their campaigns. We also didn’t want to buy data like this ever again.

We still see these scenarios frequently, where data from a single lat/long appears again and again and again. However, today we have SmartPin technology in place, so we never pass it on to clients. SmartPin makes it easy for us to spot and remove from the pool.

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Marketing Tricks & Treats for Halloween 2017


Marketing Tricks & Treats for Halloween 2017

Halloween is just around the corner, a time when millions of Americans will stock up on candy, costumes, and decorations. What other time of year do families open their doors to share freely with family, friends and, well, total strangers?


Thanks to the inherent generosity of the holiday, spending will be huge. Last year some 171 million Americans spent an astounding $8.3 billion for the holiday, shattering past records. And it’s entirely likely that spending will smash last year’s total. If you’re a CPG marketer, you’ll want to get in on the action. Here are three mobile location marketing campaign tactics to help you make the most of the eighth-biggest holiday in the US.

#1: Know Your Halloween Shoppers

National Retail Federation figures show 47% of people plan to dress in costumes this year, while another survey shows that 73% of households will buy at least one. Some 47% of respondents will buy them at Walmart, while slightly fewer (43%) will go online. Wherever they’re purchased, online is an important channel for both inspiration and sales.

Costumes aren’t just for kids – plenty of adults will don them at work, home and parties, and they’ll spend an average of $31.03. Millennials take it even further, spending an average of $42.39 for theirs, thanks to the keen attention Halloween gets on social media. In fact, 28% of millennial’s say Pinterest is their main source for inspiration, while another 23% look to YouTube.

Decorations and candy are purchased closer to the day itself, which means your window of opportunity is the two weeks prior. But don’t miss it: research shows 76% of households will purchase decorations. As for candy, chocolate and soft candy are the preferred choice for 84% of households that plan to open their doors to trick-or-treaters. 78% of consumers plan to buy these in-store at Walmart. These items are purchased most often in store.

The takeaway? Let’s start with the big spender: millennials. Research shows they spend their free time socializing in locations from trendy bars to art galleries. Create a targeting segment, based on demographic and location data, to reach them as they socialize. Your ads can serve as conversation starters, and get them excited about dressing up for Halloween. Follow up with mobile and social media retargeting during the hours they’re most likely to shop.

Parents can also be easily segmented with behavioral, demographic, and location data, and there are ample opportunities for both online and offline retailers to reach them (see below).

2. Make Your Halloween Marketing Smarter

Consumers who’ve visited your brick-and-mortar store (or even your competitor’s retail outlet) are excellent Halloween prospects. You can use beacons or sensors, to find, segment and target them in real time with Halloween offers.

You can also retarget them at home via any device connected to their WiFi, including their connected TVs (72% of households say they will watch Halloween specials on TV this October). This prime sofa time is ideal for delivering longer video ads that prompt consumers to your online store.

Historic location data is another targeting asset for marketers, revealing insights that help you create robust personas to drive your creatives, messages and offers. For instance, let’s say location data shows a consumer visits a day care center twice a day, five days a week. We can easily assume that consumer is a parent, and will be receptive to ads for children’s costumes.

Other data, such as historic location data and purchase history, can be used in sequential messaging across various locations, leading a consumer to point of purchase.

3. Timing is everything

October is a key time for purchasing all Halloween items, which means your campaigns should be planned, and your shelves stocked, at least six weeks in advance.

Parents are the most likely to shop early, which means your initial target audience will be audiences likely to visit kindergartens or schools. These shoppers will be interested in costumes, candy, and decorations for Halloween-themed parties.

Lots of people, college students in particular, tend to put off Halloween preparation to the last minute. Campaigns for this audience can wait until Monday 23rd, especially as Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year. Most parties (and therefore sales of alcohol and party food) will occur on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th.

Finally, consider real-world events in your targeting. For instance, you can tailor your creatives to reflect or acknowledge an unexpected cold snap or rain. Offer strategies for keeping trick-or-treaters warm; if targeting college students, feature cocktails that warm from within.

Halloween is the 8th-highest spending holiday in the US, and it’s a theme brands have always had plenty of fun with. But you can up the ante by leveraging newer technologies, targeting consumers at the exact times and places they’re most likely to consider their plans and ultimately purchase items for Halloween.

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Let’s get Phy-gital: Merging the Physical and Digital to Enhance In-store Experiences

White Paper

Let’s get Phy-gital: Merging the Physical and Digital to...

It’s no secret that our physical and digital worlds have been converging for years now. The technologies we use each day are growing more sophisticated as we continue to move through physical locations like our homes and workplaces, stores, parking lots and gyms. Location data has further blurred the lines between the physical and digital, as our phones can now pinpoint our location down to a specific city, street, or corner of the room.

For advertisers, these new trends present remarkable opportunities for growing engagement and boosting sales. One key example is how location data is empowering brands to drive foot traffic. In fact, in our new white paper, Transforming Customer Engagement With Location-Based Technologies, major brands including Microsoft, DSW and Chili’s highlighted that location data’s most important strength is its ability to bring consumers into their stores. Sony, for instance, is using location data to identify and target audiences seen near phone stores that stock their devices. After retargeting these audiences later in the day, Sony saw a nearly tenfold increase in foot traffic. But now, many brands are waking up to another game-changing benefit of location data: they are discovering that it can bring brick and mortar stores to life and enhance the in-store shopping experience.

As Wade Allen of Chili’s explains in the white paper, his restaurant brand recently introduced a new initiative called “digital curbside” to engage with patrons before they get to Chili’s and as soon as they reach the parking lot. Customers place their orders online, and thanks to geofencing, the store is notified when the car gets to the parking lot. This enables staff to be as attentive as possible to their guests and deliver meals directly to their cars.

Similarly, Nike’s five-floor store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood is a quintessential example of a physical store location with a digital heart. Inside, shoppers can give their basketball shoes a whirl in the “trial zone,” where they’ll find half a court equipped with hoops and video screens. Thanks to physical sensors, shoppers can also get instant information on the products they’re interested in through the interactive digital screens.

By integrating in-store shopping with high-quality digital experiences, brands are doing more than just wowing consumers; they are also gaining opportunities to cross- and up-sell their products. For instance, Macy’s is reaping the financial rewards of location data by enhancing in-store experiences across the country. When shoppers enter a Macy’s store equipped with beacon sensors, they receive a message on their phones inviting them to open their Shopkick app and opt-in for special deals. While browsing, they learn about in-store sales and receive reminders to check out other items they’ve liked in the past. These features lead to greater customer engagement and increased sales.

These days, getting “phy-gital” means more than just using data to drive consumers in store. It also means crafting incredible digital experiences that make the whole trip to the store worthwhile.

For more insights into how brands can reap the benefits of location data, check out Blis’ new white paper, “Transforming Customer Engagement with Location-Based Technologies.”

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Precision Matters: The Critical Importance of Decimal Places and Why Five Is the Lowest You Should Go


Precision Matters: The Critical Importance of Decimal Places and...

As we’ve noted in previous posts, GPS is the Gold Standard when it comes to lat/long data. It delivers both precise and accurate information. However, we’ve also made it clear that not everything that professes to be GPS data really is. Sometimes its data gathered from centroids. And sometimes, data that claims to be precise lat/long information isn’t quite precise enough.

Size Matters When It Comes to Decimal Places

Precision can be measured by the number of decimal places in the latitude and longitude provided. The number of decimal places correlates directly to the level of precision. So, as you can see from the table below, a lat/long rounded up to a single decimal place can accurately identify a country or region, whereas rounded up to two could identify a large city or district. But five decimal places can accurately hone in on an individual tree, and six can identify a person.

Decimal Places Decimal Degrees Distance Concept
0 1.0 111 km Can identify a Country or large Region from another
1 0.1 11.1 km Can identify a large city from a neighbouring large city
2 0.01 1.11 km Can identify a small village from the next
3 0.001 111 m Can separate one neighbourhood or street from another
4 0.0001 11.1 m Can identify an individual street or parcel of land.
5 0.00001 1.11 m Capacity to distinguish one tree from another.
6 0.000001 11.1 cm Measuring approximately 4 inches wide. Used for structural design & surveyance in engineering.
7 0.0000001 1.11 cm Used for precision geographic surveying, representing the practical limit of the use of GPS.
8 0.00000001 1.11 mm Conceptually the width of a paper clip. Can be used for charting volcanic movements & tectonic plate shifts.
9 0.000000001 111μm Representative of the width of a strand of thread, now in the range of microscopy.

Why does precision matter so much?

With so much precision riding on a single decimal place or two, you can see why it matters so much when it comes to targeting. Rounding up from four decimal places to two means the difference between tracking a person’s behaviour in a store to determining whether or not they’re in a particular neighborhood. Even a difference of 10 meters (as between rows three and four) represents the difference between useful and not useful for Blis. At row four, a consumer may be in the hair salon they visit every week. At row three, they could be across the street buying coffee. The difference may seem small, however in the world of hyper local advertising, it’s significant.

Using Google Maps, you can see for yourself how precision works with respect to decimal places. Type in your address, then look at the URL. I’ve typed in the address of Blis’ New York City office, which is at 19 West 24th Street.

Here’s the URL:,+New+York,+NY+10010,+USA/@40.7430194,-73.9926432,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89c259a4470b3c0d:0xd29206f3c548e48d!8m2!3d40.7430194!4d-73.9904545

The coordinates are within the URL, right after the actual address I typed in: 40.7428453, -73.9905663. Google sets the standard at seven digits – down to a “practical limit of commercial surveying.” It’s a level of accuracy that is generally greater than most Blis campaigns require: In this example, we’re drilling down to the grommet on a co-worker’s shoe, or to a thumbtack on her desk. Anything beyond this is really impractical, even for our purposes.

If you take those coordinates and put them into a tool like (since Google doesn’t actually let you remove decimal places), you’ll pull up that location. Now, take a digit off each number and search again. Repeat that process, and you’ll see the radius around your location get wider and wider. The accuracy remains, but the precision suffers with every lost decimal place.

It’s easy to see why the decimal places matter – and why Blis has no use for data with less than five decimal places.

Making the Cut

At Blis we have to be particularly careful with lat/long data. It’s the most common place for errors and fraud, but also (fortunately) the easiest for us to test and identify errors.

And again something worth noting, inconsistencies in lat/long data are not always as a result of fraud. A developer could have released an update to their App’s SDK (Software Development Kit), accidentally introducing a bug when querying the phone’s GPS chip. In one case, the error was easy to spot because when the data was visualized, all activity from one single publisher falling exactly along the Equator, clearer not a deliberate mistake. Occasionally lat/long coordinates are erroneous. It happens.

Sometimes, however, the activity is nefarious. After all, bid stream data with lat/long information is worth more that data without it, so there is incentive for fraudsters to add in fake or appended lat/longs. In many cases, decimal places are rounded up or deliberately truncated, so that they appear to comply with the minimal standards Blis and other providers demand.

With our proprietary algorithms and technology, we’re able to accurately scan the data we take in validated that all our lat/long data is accurate. In the cases where it’s not, that data is removed from our pool so that it cannot be used by any of our clients for any purpose – and it can’t spoil any campaign, any attribution analysis, anything at all.

Using location data for behavioral targeting requires both precision and accuracy. Blis is committed to delivering both. For what we do and what our clients expect, we need to be exact.

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Dmexco Predictions: On my way to Cologne, and not a Ben Folds song in sight


Dmexco Predictions: On my way to Cologne, and not...

So Dmexco is coming up, and as an Adtech Exec I still find this to be the best trade show for cementing existing relationships and building new ones. Usually done whilst queuing for bratwurst of course.

This year I am looking forward to some key pieces all slotting together. 

GDPR will clearly be on the agenda and I am expecting much more in the way of discussing the impacts of this on the big walled gardens. I don’t think anyone in Adtech is prepared for the impact GDPR will have on the industry, however I am keen to hear some honest discussions take place over the state of the nation and, where possible, how various vendors are approaching consent – in particular SSPs.

My personal opinion is that GDPR is a good thing for location vendors and it will rapidly separate the industry’s leaders from followers. There is nothing to fear from unambiguous legislation and Blis is taking this very seriously.

Despite being one of the hot topics at last year’s Dmexco, the discussion and debates will continue around the rise of Header Bidding and its impact on mobile. To date, mobile has been immune from this scourge but this is changing as pre-bid goes mobile. The impact on SSPs and DSPs in the desktop display arena has been useful to watch from the sidelines but supply optimisation will become more important for mobile DSPs to work out both the most efficient buying route but also the most efficient internal processing methods – why process the same impression from a dozen SSPs? I am expecting SSPs to be touting pre-bid mobile solutions in force at Dmexco. I am sceptical of the uniqueness of these to publishers and buyers and am busy working on my top three questions for vendors when this topic comes up.

M&A rumours go into overdrive at Dmexco. I am never sure why, perhaps it is the “I saw X huddled in a corner talking to Y”. The reason they were huddled is it is impossible to hear anything at the best of time. I suspect there will be deals – telcos increasingly becoming strategic partners with massive amounts of consumer data is the obvious candidate – but I am not brave enough to predict anything here. For what it is worth as a recap of recent Adtech M&A then Paul Gubbins’ recent post is a good read I expect at least half a dozen people to comment on M&A around AppNexus, or at a minimum mention a date for their IPO. Nothing to see here, the guys at AppNexus are doing just fine without this chat.

And then there is the ever-present hype around new technologies. AI was omnipresent at MWC and Dmexco last year, despite many Adtech “AI” propositions being vapourware based on basic algorithms. This year expect Blockchain to be the darling of the ball – will be fun poking holes in the hot air around this.

I shall be keeping a running scorecard but if I have missed anything, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

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Centroids: The Good, The Bad, and the Highly Imprecise


Centroids: The Good, The Bad, and the Highly Imprecise

As discussed in our previous blog post , Blis is incredibly selective with respect to the data we allow into our pool. We apply many filters to ensure data is both accurate and precise, and not all of it makes the cut. Of the data that isn’t up to snuff, nearly 85 percent fails to pass through these three important filters:

  • Centroids: When visualized data falls into grids, straight lines or symmetrical shapes on a map, this is the result of broad-reaching centroids, which may deliver generally accurate but highly imprecise data.
  • Precision: Blis considers lat/long data of three data points or less too imprecise to deploy in programmatic campaigns.
  • Uniques: When curiously large volumes of data originate from a single lat/long – a space that is only square millimeters in size, that’s a red flag.

Today’s post will focus on that first one, centroids.

What is a centroid?

As the name suggests, a centroid is central location used to determine a user’s location. The term “centroid” itself is a catchall for many things. Most often, it refers to latitude and longitude data returned from a central IP location in metropolitan area. Centroids are often employed when a user denies permission for a publisher to use their GPS data. In these cases, the publisher will estimate the location based on loose assumptions, tying the user to the nearest IP address at the time they’re on their device and engaging with that publisher.

The problem with centroid data is that, while it’s technically accurate, it’s also imprecise. Centroids will effectively draw a grid over an entire metro area, with grid points several kilometers apart. To illustrate, London, a city with a population of 14 million, only has about 12 grid points. So while the nearest grid point to a user will likely be within London, it won’t be more specific than Westminster or Brixton – not nearly precise enough for behavioral targeting.

How does Blis identify centroid data?

A lot of bad data is called centroid data. At Blis, we can easily and specifically identify centroid data by visualizing it and scanning for grid patterns. Centroid data will place humans in predictable patterns and shapes along the map, suggesting that people live and move in straight lines along a grid. This clearly doesn’t match true human behavior, which is much more random and unpredictable by comparison. A heatmap of actual human beings in an inhabited location would reveal clusters of people in shopping malls or coffee shops, and large voids in football fields or empty office blocks.

The concerns about centroid data highlight the issue we raised in our last post about precision and accuracy. Centroid data is often accurate. If you’re sold device IDs that are identified as “New Yorkers” that were captured via centroids, you can be fairly confident the data is accurate. Most of those users will be in New York City, although some may be upstate or in Connecticut or New Jersey.

For Blis, however, this data is not nearly precise enough, but we can often use it in conjunction with other sources. If Centroid data is identified, we simply remove the lat/long data from the bid request, and treat it as if the bid request came into our platform with no lat/long attached to it. We then make an effort find the right location based on other factors within the bid request. For example, we may have a device ID from a previous bid request, so we can identify a particular user from a previous request.

On its own, Centroid data is adequate for targeting broad geographic areas, but without additional data appended to it, it can’t be used to precisely target location. At Blis, we require much more precise information to deliver the accurate behavioral targeting our clients expect.

In our next post, we’ll look at how Blis filters for precision, and what that means in the context of programmatic advertising.

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Asia-Pacific Markets Will Show Brands the Way to a Mobile-First Programmatic Future


Asia-Pacific Markets Will Show Brands the Way to a...

Blis recently opened fully staffed offices in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur as part of our continuing outreach to support clients in Southeast Asia. Over the course of the next few months we’ll be announcing further local operations in more key territories across the Southern and Southeast Asian continent.

We’re committing more resources and localised support for our clients throughout the region because if you want to know what’s coming next in the mobile space, go to APAC.

The region has been operating way ahead of the curve in the online and mobile space over the last two years, and according to Zenith Group’s latest ad spend report, it will continue to lead global advertising growth this year with internet advertising overtaking TV for the first time.

Mobile first

APAC holds the key to future international growth as more consumers adopt mobile devices and brands improve the user experience. Whether it’s fully managed media or self-serve programmatic features that agencies or brands want to harness from Blis, we’re there on the ground ready to facilitate.

Every market in Asia functions quite uniquely and independently. For example, in what’s referred to as ‘fast-track’ Asian markets like China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, ad expenditure rose by 9.2% in 2016, according to Zenith, as many countries increased their adoption of digital technology and continued to innovate themselves as mobile-first user bases.

One of the fastest growing areas for brands in APAC is in-app advertising, and there is clear evidence that if marketers can get their mobile ad strategy right, in which location data is key, then sales will follow.

Rapid market growth

More than 75 million people in Indonesia will use smartphones in 2017, according the eMarketer, and this figure is projected to rise to 92 million by 2019. Moreover, mobile ad spend is predicted to grow by 80 percent this year and will form over 38 percent of total digital ad spending by the end of 2017, rising to more than 52 percent next year. Much of this mobile ad growth is at the expense of TV and print advertising, according the eMarketer report, while OOH spend, which location data complements, is on a steady predicted growth curve for the next five years.

Furthermore, global management consultancy Bain recently surveyed more than 2,400 consumers in six major South-east Asian countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam. It concluded that that over 300 million people in the region have a smartphone, which is helping to boost connectivity and drive the digital economy. These findings have exciting implications for businesses, governments, and society, but they are also testament to the speed with which digital (and mobile) connectivity is changing the lives of people in the region.

“South-east Asia has become a proving ground for digitally native companies as well as traditional companies looking to tap into the digital market,” said Mr Sebastien Lamy, an expert in Bain’s Digital Practice and co-author of the report.

Programmatic progress

APAC has several factors that prove a strong programmatic growth potential, but it must also overcome some challenges, such as a fragmented ad tech landscape, issues with data access, and tendencies towards hard-to-scale RTB transactions. In a region that is extremely diverse within individual countries, APAC’s programmatic understanding and implementation ranges from being in its infancy to, in some cases, advanced maturity.

Marketers must still consider that it is important to continue to educate the region and in particular – the clients on how to maximize the benefits of programmatic advertising. In addition to sales teams, the Indonesian and Malaysian offices include Account Management, Ad Operations and Creative teams, underscoring Blis’ commitment to clients in the region for both managed media and self-serve business. Singapore and Sydney will remain as regional hubs providing marketing and educational support and resources, however each territory will have a dedicated team available 24/7 to assist agencies.

West looking east

Mobile is driving programmatic advertising growth worldwide. According to MAGNA, Asia Pacific (APAC) represented the 22% of the global programmatic ad spend in 2016, ranked as the second largest programmatic region after US. APAC comprises some of the most highly developed global programmatic markets like China, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.

What we are seeing is a potential turning point in the history of advertising and media. As the technology infrastructure gets fully ramped up in the region and different mobile marketing strategies evolve to help marketers better understand the users, APAC is set to become the centre of digital evolution and the so-called “developed markets” are now looking east for inspiration.

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Embracing the Retailer’s Dream Metric: Cost Per Visit


Embracing the Retailer’s Dream Metric: Cost Per Visit

The twentieth-century American engineer and statistician W. Edwards Deming once said, “Just because you can measure everything, doesn’t mean that you should.”

This applies to retailer struggles today as marketing executives need to decide what they should measure and how. Do they care about impressions, views or click-through rates? And once they figure that out, how can they make sure their ad dollars are really working? The Partnership predicts that ad fraud will cost brands over $16 billion this year alone, while Infectious Media suggests that over half of all digital ads aren’t seen at all.

Fortunately for retailers, there’s a new metric in town—one designed to eliminate waste and increase sales. With a cost-per-visit (CPV) model, retailers pay only when a consumer sees an ad and visits a specific location. Here are four ways retailers are benefiting from this cutting-edge new metric.

1) Increased Foot Traffic

With the National Retail Federation predicting eight to 12 percent e-commerce growth this year alone, no one can deny the rapid rise of online sales. However, 85 percent of consumers still prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, where 94 percent of all sales are generated. That’s why it’s vital for retailers to keep their physical stores alive and continue to enhance their in-store experiences.

With the explicit goal of bringing visitors into physical store locations, CPV is a metric for retailers wanting to increase foot traffic—and pay only for successful conversions. While there are many ways to boost in-store visits, today’s leading location data solutions use predictive location modeling. With Blis Futures, we choose to charge on a CPV-basis because we are completely confident in this approach.

2) Greater In-store Sales

Driving consumers into brick-and-mortar locations may also encourage consumers to buy more than they anticipated. It gives retailers the opportunity to upsell consumers so they need to make sure they clearly advertise their promotional pricing, point-of-purchase displays and loyalty programs. Once you have a potential customer in the store, you can push tailored messaging in real-time and create personalized promotions. As anyone that has ever been into a Target retail location can attest – you may go in for one specific item but end up unable to leave the store for less than $100! So only paying when a consumer sees an ad and then visits a physical location reaps multiples rewards for a marketer.

3) Branding Opportunities

When retailers buy ads on a cost-per-visit basis, they don’t pay if the consumer sees the ad but doesn’t come into the store. That means the retailer also benefits from ad views and branding. In fact, a consumer may see the ad and make a purchase online rather than in-store, but the marketer still pays nothing for that conversion. At Blis, we are willing to take that risk and allow marketers “free” branding messages. Our confidence in the technology behind our CPV metric allows us to think of marketers first.

4) Risk-free Investing

CPV transfers the risk from buyer to partner, so retailers don’t have to worry about wasted ad spend: They’re making a completely risk-free investment. With free branding and zero downside, retailers have nothing to lose.

When Blis became one of the first tech partners to offer the CPV model earlier this year, we sent a critical message to both retailers and the wider industry: We’re ushering in a new era of transparency and accountability in advertising.

Check back again next week when we switch gears to discuss how retailers can use mobile to boost engagement, retention and acquisition.

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3 Ways Retailers Can Use Mobile for Effective One-to-one Marketing


3 Ways Retailers Can Use Mobile for Effective One-to-one...

Today, mobile devices are like mini retail stores we carry around in our pockets: places where consumers can browse merchandise or place orders almost instantly.

But mobile devices also give consumers something they can’t get in stores: personalized marketing. Collecting data like shopping histories and browsing patterns, mmobile devices provide retailers with detailed insight into individual consumers and a means of communicating with them directly.

How can retailers use mobile insights and capabilities to craft effective, one-to-one messaging?

1. Get personal.

Today, consumers want—and expect—ads to speak directly to them. In fact, 74% of customers feel frustrated when their online experiences aren’t personalized.

The easiest way for retailers to personalize content is by harnessing their first-party data. If a customer purchases a dress online, the brand can use what they know about her (her fashion interests, browsing history and email address) to customize subsequent content. For example, the brand can serve an ad via email that suggests a pair of shoes to go along with the new dress.

With CRM data, the retailer can see what the woman bought online, but do they know what she’s purchased elsewhere? Or what she does when she’s not shopping? This is where location data comes in. Retailers that layer location-based insights on to other sources of data can get to know where and when consumers shop at brick and mortar stores. They can also identify other behavioral patterns, including which day of the week and time of day they like to go shopping—data can enables greater levels of personalization.

Let’s say a CPG brand wants to reach out to a previous customer who hasn’t been seen in store lately. The marketers can use their knowledge of the consumer’s daily commute to deliver the ad just before he leaves work, suggesting he stop by on his way home. They may even offer him a discount on the product he previously purchased.

2. Market to individuals, not devices.

Once retailer marketers have identified their ideal audiences on mobile, they shouldn’t see phones as the only means of communication. Consumers own an average of 3.6 connected devices, so retailers should communicate with consumers across the devices they use, including tablets, laptops, desktops and addressable TV.

However, if a retailer sees a user reading political news on the tablet all day but watching cartoons in the evening, it might not be the same same person. With families and partners sharing devices at home, marketers need to make sure they are constructing nuanced consumer profiles across devices in order to reach out to individuals, not just devices.

3. Don’t be creepy.

Personalized, cross-device marketing is on the rise in part because consumers are increasingly willing to disclose their data to retailers. After all, purchase histories and location data are essential for useful or interesting ads.

But how retailers use that data is key. Consumers want to feel understood, but they don’t want to feel like ads are invasive or drawing on data that’s simply too personal and private. Marketers need to make sure they aren’t crossing any personal boundaries or making consumers feel uncomfortable.

If marketers want to turn heads or, more importantly, turn consumers into buyers, they’ll need to do more than blast out generic ads to the masses. When retailers personalize ads with these three tips, they’ll see huge improvements in campaign performance.

But how, exactly, do they measure these improvements? Find out next week when we assess the best metrics for retailers.

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How Brands Can Ace Back-To-School Advertising By Doing Their Location Homework


How Brands Can Ace Back-To-School Advertising By Doing Their...

As the summer winds down, parents are gearing up for back-to-school shopping, and brands are preparing to launch some of the most important advertising campaigns of the year. With the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) predicting the average back-to-school shopper will spend $353.20 in 2017, brands have good reason to boost their media spend.


But insights from a recently conducted Blis study (infographic representation to the right) reveal that brands could be throwing their back-to-school ad dollars to the wind if only taking a standard location approach. In fact, the study found that brands could wasting more than 80 percent of their back-to-school media on the wrong audience if location data isn’t used or used correctly.

How can brands make sure they are reaching the right parent audience this summer and making the most of their ad dollars? By rethinking how they identify, segment and target consumers.

We have 3 tips for brands looking to brush up their ad campaigns before school starts.

1. Identify the Parents

The first step for any brand looking to build relationships with potential customers is to identify them. So how can brands identify back-to-school shoppers? Well, by paying attention to the places they visit.

The most obvious place to look is in the stores themselves. The ICSC’s latest survey finds that 89 percent of back to school shoppers plan to shop in physical store locations this summer. That’s why the majority of back to school briefs will be answered with a strategy to geo-fence stores to a 10 mile radius & target devices belonging to 28-54yr olds using mobile GPS in the hope that they’re parents of school-age children. With geofencing, brands identify shoppers by using 3- and 4G GPS or Wi-Fi data to collect device IDs located within the perimeter of a certain store.

But geofencing alone is not enough. Being 30yrs old & near a Target doesn’t mean you’re interested in saving on a geometry set. Failure to augment the geo-fence with other sources of behavioral & consumer data means brands will be wasting money on young adults who aren’t parents at all. That’s what Blis’ insights revealed when we geofenced 300 Target store locations across the U.S. for two weeks to identify women aged 28 to 48: a standard back to school advertising strategy to reach moms. But of the thousands of women shopping at Target stores, how many of them are actually parents? What proportion actually take their kids to school? Well, 19% actually. Less than 1 in 5 women, 28-48yrs old, in proximity to a Target store had also done the school-run in the previous 2 months.

How did we find this out? We conducted a “look back” study to see if those women we had identified were seen within 500 feet of elementary schools, middle schools or high school over the past 2 months—proof they were indeed moms. The results demonstrated that if advertisers simply use basic geofencing without adding other sources of location data to the campaign, they could be wasting over 80 percent of their ad dollars. Using historical location data, advertisers can create detailed consumer profiles of women ages 28 to 48 who’ve been seen dropping off the kids at school: ideal back-to-school shoppers.

2. Segment by Demographics

Just as brands use multiple sources of data to identify their ideal audience, they can also use that data to segment audiences further. Rather than lumping all the mothers together, a brand can use historical location data to separate them into groups based on the age of their children. Women who visit the local elementary school likely have very young children, while women who visit the high school probably have teenagers.

Combining historical location data with other types of data like browsing histories and past purchase behavior allows advertisers to drill down even further. For example, a mother who visits the elementary school regularly and shops for boys’ clothing online likely has a son. And segmenting audiences in this way is critical. After all, there’s a big difference between mom looking for crayons for her kindergartener and one who’s treating her 15-year-old to a new autumn wardrobe.

3. Tailor the Message

With such detailed insight into their audiences, brands can create and serve ads that are tailored to each audience segment.

According to the ICSC, 40 percent of shoppers won’t begin their back-to-school shopping until they see ads or sales in stores. Moreover, almost 90 percent say that promotions influence their purchase decisions. That means how, where and when brands target back-to-school shoppers can make a big difference.

Once brands have identified and segmented their ideal audiences, they can begin targeting creatively in order to increase foot traffic and sales. This is what a large department store did for its back-to-school campaign. Last August and September, the brand served ads to parents with children under age 17 in real-time when they were at family restaurants, schools and theme parks. Consumers who saw the ad were 40% more likely to go into the brand’s department store than those who did not.

When consumers step foot inside, brands should continue the conversation. Since 81 percent of back-to-school shoppers use their mobile devices while shopping in stores, brands can serve ads designed to get shoppers to consider specific products or pick up a few more items beyond their list of school supplies. For example, advertisers can offer personalized promotions or make customized suggestions based on previous purchase intent to in-store shoppers.

With back-to-school sales at record highs, brands have a lot to gain from effective advertising. But before they pump money into their ad campaigns, they need to adopt this three-pronged strategy for identifying, segmenting and targeting the perfect audience.

Advertisers that do their homework before school starts will not only ace their back-to-school campaigns; they’ll also earn back their media spend.

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How to Avoid Bad Data


How to Avoid Bad Data

As many marketers know, data can be overwhelming. In today’s advertising and marketing ecosystem, we have more data to work with than ever before, and it can all get very daunting. However, data – and good quality data – are imperative to ensure accuracy and effectiveness in digital advertising. So, while it may seem intimidating, it’s important to understand what the data you’re using represents, and how to know you’re getting the exact the data you’ve paid for.

Accuracy vs. Precision

At Blis, we have rather high standards for data when it comes to accuracy and precision. “Accuracy” and “Precision” are words you’ll hear often to describe location data, and while they matter equally in our eyes, they’re definitely not the same.

Accuracy refers to the correctness of the data in relation to its description. If that data says it represents US citizens, and in fact it does reflect actually lat/long information for US mobile users, then it’s accurate. That’s very helpful if you plan to run a campaign targeting Americans. It’s less helpful if you’re targeting women who go to a particular chain of nail salons every week in the St. Louis metro area.

Precision refers to how specifically targeted the data is. Data that can narrowly target women who go to the Ten Spot Nail Salon on Main Street in Springfield, Missouri every week is precision data. That’s data that can be used to build a behavioral profile.

However, if data says it represents women who visit the nail salon in Springfield, but it actually includes men and women who visit businesses within 1,000 meters of the nail salon it’s not really accurate, is it? Apart from not being limited to women, it also may include people who patronize the coffee shop next store, the dry cleaner across the street, and the supermarket around the corner. If your campaign is intended for women in that neighborhood who get weekly manicures, that data – even though it’s only about 750 meters off – will not perform very well in your campaign.

That’s why Blis insists on data that is both precise and accurate.

Bad data is…

For us, bad data doesn’t necessarily mean inaccurate or fraudulent data. It refers to data that is simply too imprecise. As in the example above, imprecise data can wreak havoc on a programmatic campaign.

To help marketers execute the most successful campaigns possible, we work hard to identify misrepresented and imprecise data. There are a number of filters we use to catch this inaccurate data. We’ll dive more deeply into each of these in subsequent posts, but some of the “red flags” we look for include:

  • Centroids
  • Lack of precision in lat/long data
  • No country code/Wrong country code
  • Repetition of uniques
  • Not enough data
  • The Equator Test/ Greenwich Test
  • Bad publisher name

It would be impossible for humans to manage all these filters and capture every unreliable data point. Blis works with hundreds of thousands of publishers and manages over 40 billion impressions every day. We rely on computers and proprietary algorithms to detect and flag patterns of unnatural human behavior across all those publishers and all that data. After all, it’s computers and algorithms generating fake data and attempting to pass it off as real; what better way to fight that fire than with fire of our own?

If you look at visualisations of bad data, it’s easily discernable from reliable data. Human behavior, plotted out on a map, looks irregular and unpredictable, generally. Bad data looks like a different visually; it generates straight lines or repetitive patterns. It clashes with presumed or assumed human behavior. We can easily spot one single app passing a load of lat/long data that is being advertised as high-quality GPS data.

When we find bad data….

With so much data from so many sources, we have to look at the big picture to determine if there is actual bad data coming in, versus the occasional anomaly. To that end, we look at two weeks’ worth of data, from all sources, at once. That makes it easier to discern patterns. If there’s one day of bad data from one publisher, we can’t feel confident in that publisher’s ability to consistently deliver healthy data the next day. However, looking at fourteen days at a time, we have the ability to see that data has been consistently good over a two-week period, and feel that the publisher can be trusted to deliver quality data. When we do catch bad data, that publisher is temporarily removed from the supply set and monitored. When our confidence is restored, they can return to the pool.

While we have higher standards than most players in the industry when it comes to quality of our geo data, the industry is right behind us. The IAB and the Mobile Marketing Association are making earnest efforts to educate marketers about the important questions they need to ask about their data. We’re leading the pack, but there are efforts from around the ecosystem to educated and protect marketers who rely on clean, quality data.

Stay tuned for more of this series, and read about Smart Pin, the proprietary technology that filters out bad data and keeps our data set pristine.

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Retailers’ Golden Ticket to Reviving Brick and Mortar Stores


Retailers’ Golden Ticket to Reviving Brick and Mortar Stores

Interested in understanding how to connect mobile experiences to physical stores? Or how mobile can be the extension of a retailer’s store? Maybe you’ve wondered about the new Cost-Per-Visit metric? Look no further. Blis’ location data experts will be answering these questions on a weekly basis over the next few months in our ‘Retail Series’ which aims to equip retail marketers with the right insights and top tips to stay ahead of the game.

Following its decision to buy e-commerce company last year, Walmart recently agreed to acquire Bonobos, a retailer with a strong online presence and generous shipping policies. If these moves weren’t sign enough that the physical and digital retail worlds are merging, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is the ultimate wake-up call.

Retailers everywhere are realizing that while brick and mortar stores are still critical, they’ll need a strong digital strategy to keep them filled with happy customers. Mobile devices are retailers’ golden ticket to connecting with consumers and reviving in-store shopping.

Understanding Consumers though Mobile

Whether they are going to work or going shopping, consumers carry their phones with them wherever they go. As a result, mobile devices provide retailers with a constant stream of valuable consumer insights. GPS and Wi-Fi data can tell retailers, for instance, whether a consumer is at a desktop at work, connected to Wi-Fi at home, or walking past a retailer’s store.

Beyond real-time location data, retailers can use historical location data to understand a consumer’s habits. For example, some consumers might visit a luxury jewelry brand on Fifth Avenue just to browse, even if they have no intention (or monetary means!) of buying. Thus, for that specific retailer, in-store visits may not indicate ideal customers. Instead, that luxury retailer can look at historical location data to identify their ideal consumers: perhaps individuals who frequently stay at the Four Seasons Hotel or regularly check in to exclusive country clubs.

But retailers shouldn’t rely on mobile data alone. By layering mobile insights with other valuable sources of data, advertisers can gain a holistic picture of their perfect audiences. Data collected from laptops, for instance, can reveal browsing histories and online shopping patterns; however, consumers won’t be opening up their laptops while shopping in stores. The trick is for retailers to match the data across devices to unique mobile device IDs. Only then will they gain a more holistic understanding of consumers and will be able to target or retarget them with products they are likely to go buy.

Driving Foot Traffic Creatively

Once they’ve gotten a clear and thorough understanding of their ideal audiences, how can retailers use mobile devices to drive foot traffic? Proximity targeting—delivering ads to consumers when they come within a certain distance of a store location—is a common approach. Retailers can maximize the power of proximity targeting by crafting unique and imaginative creatives.

For instance, advertisers can deliver ads to shoppers already in the area to tell them about an in-store sale, or offer them a coupon they can only redeem in person. Retailers can also deliver ads that feature a handy map telling consumers how to find their store.

Sometimes, targeting consumers when they are walking by a store may be a little too late. A QSR wanting to boost its 10 am breakfast crowd, for instance, may want to target consumers when they wake up around 7a and begin planning their day. Otherwise, the consumer has most likely already made their breakfast choice.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for retailers looking to connect with consumers and drive in-store sales, a strong mobile strategy is key. As the digital and physical worlds continue to blend, retailers must harness the insights and capabilities of mobile to reach their unique brand objectives.

Tune in next week to read all about how mobile is fast becoming the extension of a retailer’s store.

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How To Harness the Power of Beacons


How To Harness the Power of Beacons

Nowadays, brands who use insights gained from Wi-Fi check-ins and GPS signals can pinpoint consumers down to the city they live in, the route they take to work, or the street they’re currently walking down. But once these consumers are in stores shopping, can advertisers find out which aisle they’re in and, more importantly, do anything about it?

Enter beacons and sensors. Located in and around stores, these powerful technologies provide brands with an accurate and detailed picture of how their customers are moving in and out of stores and up and down different aisles. And earlier this year, Blis partnered with Unacast, the world’s largest proximity sensor network, to merge our advanced mobile location data with the compelling insights and capabilities of beacon technology. But how can marketers make the most of beacons, and what benefits do they bring to retail advertising?

Ensure Data Accuracy

At Blis, we put data accuracy at the forefront of our efforts. Beacons are an important part of this strategy, enabling us to verify and amplify our data.

Since beacons are placed in physical locations and interact with mobile devices that actually come within proximity, they are a highly accurate way of determining exactly where consumers go. Unacast collects data from 40% of the world’s beacons and sensors in stores, malls, airports and stadiums. Blis layers that data with our own first-party data. Together, insights from mobile devices and beacon technology ensure that the data we have on consumers is detailed as well as accurate.

Improve Attribution

Once brands have merged and verified their data with beacon technology, what can they do with it?

For one thing, they can use their newfound insights to better understand how their mobile campaigns relate to sales. In stores like CVS, Target and Duane Reade across the U.S., Blis is using beacons to analyze how mobile ad campaigns impact foot traffic and in-store shopping patterns.

Retailers can use this data to improve attribution when it comes to their offline campaigns, too. With beacons, brands can look at mobile devices that pass OOH campaigns to find out how their offline advertisements are impacting sales.

Get Creative

With razor-sharp data on where consumers are going, beacons empower brands to do more than just verify their mobile location data and improve attribution; they also provide marketers with opportunities to run creative new campaigns that are hyper-targeted and engaging.

A shampoo brand, for instance, can employ beacons to help a customer find their product on the shelf. Let’s say the brand’s ideal customer—a female in her 20s—enters the store. When beacons sense that her mobile device is inside, advertisers can send her a map of the store, directing her to the shelf and aisle where she’ll find the shampoo.

Another example is how retailer, Urban Outfitters, uses beacon-triggered content promoting millennials targeted in-store features such as a barcode scanning feature of the retailer’s app for enhanced self-service experiences, in-store sharing of selfies while wearing store clothing, promotion of in-store events, and personalized push-messages to encourage brand loyalty. For more examples check out the latest IAB Mobile Playbook.

85% of the top 100 retailers in the U.S. are already capitalizing on beacon technology, and now it’s available to all of Blis customers. Advertisers should waste no time harnessing the power of beacons. When they do, they’ll be rewarded with accurate data, successful campaigns, and happy customers.

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The How/Why Behind Storing Device IDs


The How/Why Behind Storing Device IDs

In location-based advertising, device IDs are fundamental. These IDs, known as IDFA on iPhones and Android Advertising IDs on Android devices, provide data that can help marketers build a consistent anonymized consumer profile. This are essential for understanding audience behaviors.

More Useful Than Cookies in the Mobile World

In the years before location-based mobile advertising became viable, marketers relied on cookies to learn more about who their customers were. Cookies can still provide a lot of information about user behavior, but they have their limitations. For starters, cookies only work within browsers, which means they only work from website to website. In the world of the desktop, that’s not really an issue, as browsers are still how most of us access the web on a computer.

In the ever growing mobile world however, cookies are less useful. While browsers are still used to access mobile web pages, the majority of mobile time is spent in apps. (In the US, only 8 percent of mobile time was spent in browsers in the last quarter of 2016.) Since apps represent an independent environment, cookies aren’t useful; they can’t follow a user from app to app. Cookies also generally last 30 days or less, whereas device IDs are valid for however long the user keeps his or her phone and doesn’t manually reset it And, since the device ID doesn’t change as a user goes from app to app, tracking this information can provide a wealth of information about customer behavior, helping marketers piece together a more complete picture.

But Are They Safe to Use?

While users can actually change the device ID on their handset, most don’t bother or simply don’t know how it’s done. Even if they are savvy enough to change the ID, there’s not much reason to do so. For one thing, carriers generally will not pass identifiable information on to advertisers. Blis, like most other companies in the digital advertising world, do not directly handle personally identifiable information (PII). That said, customers who are concerned about privacy can easily choose to turn on the “do not track” feature on their phone – as about 15 percent of mobile users do.

However, users should consider that, since their privacy is protected by law, allowing their IDs to be tracked will only improve their digital experiences. Consumers may not think about it today, but it’s actually quite jarring to see ads that are clearly intended for someone else. It’s always awkward (and occasionally insulting) to be shown an ad for anti-aging serum when you’re 25, or an offer for discounted dog food when you don’t have a dog and live in a pet-free building. On the other hand, as a younger woman who loves running, I’d be quite happy to see offers for free shipping on a new pair of trainers.

Useful for Attribution

For marketers obviously, device IDs are vitally important for targeting, but they also play a critical role for attribution. Chains like Starbucks or McDonalds are able to see, for example, how many customers came into a store and made a purchase following their exposure to one of their ads. For them, device IDs are a reliable way to see if online campaigns actually influenced offline behaviour, because they can see if a customer who interacted with a campaign then physically entered a store. If there’s been a bump in revenue after a particular campaign, device IDs make it much easier to attribute that growth to that activity.

Device IDs provide an excellent way for marketers to understand their audiences. Along with other data sources, they can help put the story together, so marketers can see who consumers are, where they go and what’s important to them. And, since the data is both consistent and non-PII, device IDs are not only more accurate than cookies, they’re safe for both consumers and marketers.


As we bring this series of blog posts to a close, I want to urge marketers to keep learning, to ask questions, and to keep an open mind. It’s so important for you to stay educated and become more comfortable with both technology and data. And with the speed with which the industry is accelerating – you’re going to need to be more tech-savvy than ever.

All the channels we use today: social, mobile, television – it’s all converging, and location will be central to everything. So stay on top of all the industry advances and trends, but most importantly, keep learning more. Whatever you learn today is important and useful, but it’s all bound to change – quickly.

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Cutting Through the Crowds at Festivals


Cutting Through the Crowds at Festivals

From Coachella, to Bonnaroo, to Lollapalooza and Burning Man, music festivals attract some of the biggest artists and crowds all summer long. According to Billboard, over 30 million people attend at least one music festival in the U.S. each year. This gives artists a lot of opportunities to connect with their fans.


It also means festivals themselves and advertisers have plenty of chances to connect with consumers. When fans use their mobile phones to travel to or around the festival, or when contacting their friends on-site, they’re giving brands valuable information about where they are and what they like. And if advertisers know how to capitalize on this data, they’ll be able to identify and reach their ideal audiences.

With festivals offering tons of headline sponsors and hundreds of stalls to choose from, here’s how advertisers can cut through the noise at music festivals and build relationships with fans.

Make Friends at Festivals

With tens of thousands of people gathered in the same place, music festivals are a great chance to make new friends with potential customers. Brands can meet and get to know consumers by recognizing them and introducing themselves to each and every attendee.

One method for this is geo-fencing. This means identifying attendees by collecting device IDs located within the perimeter of the festival grounds. It is important to note that 3/4G GPS data is unreliable at festivals due to their remote locations and bad service. Hence, many festival organizers now routinely offer temporary Wi-Fi to keep their revelers connected. This means the number of mobile devices a marketer can access increases massively when using a location technology provider with the ability to dynamically identify Wi-Fi addresses in real world locations. In a custom study we conducted on this year’s Bonnaroo festival, we proved that any marketer using industry-standard GPS geo-location technology could only ‘see’ 27% of mobile devices at the festival. Dynamically identifying the festival Wi-Fi’s IP Address was needed to discover the missing 73%.

Once advertisers know who’s at the festival, they should strike up a conversation right away. For instance, a beverage brand can deliver an ad inviting fans to enjoy a cold drink when they make their next trip to the bar.

Stand Out From the Crowd

Music festivals are busy places, and consumers are likely to be bombarded with sponsorship logos and advertisements at every turn. So how can brands make sure they stand out from the crowd?

Brands that target consumers using Wi-Fi can more accurately target people thanks to additional behavioral insights. This also means that marketers can advertise using richer media to better engage consumers and stand out among the static ads and logos. For example, brands can offer fans interactive games or videos ads which get higher completion rates on Wi-Fi. These could be tailored based on behavioral location histories, for example showing a clip of the Weekend to someone who recently attended an R&B gig, or a voucher for the vegan food stand to someone regularly seen shopping at organic stores.

They can even get creative. Rather than simply enticing attendees with an image of an ice-cold beverage, a soda brand can offer an ad that’s both useful and inviting: it can give the thirsty consumer a handy map that shows them how they can get to the nearest bar.

Keep in Touch

Festivals like Coachella last a few days and Burning Man a week, but should that mean that an advertiser spending branding dollars on sponsorship should lose touch with those fans and potential customers once they have gone home?  Of course not.  Once brands have identified device IDs at a festival, they can use that data after the event to learn even more about who those fans are, including demographic and geographic details that indicate where they spend time and what they like to do.

Our Bonnaroo study monitored the devices we saw at the festival for a week and a half after its completion. We determined that the demographic makeup of the audience was 28% business professionals with the top industries indexing in technology, advertising and finance. The remaining 72% were college students, mostly from the University of Tennessee, Rutgers then University of SoCal. In terms of the festival attendee behavioral characteristics, they mostly frequented coffee shops such as Starbucks, clothing stores like H&M and electronic stores such as Best Buy. These insights help advertisers paint a much clearer picture of who their festival audience is so they can target appropriate messages at the right place and right time whether it be before or after the event.

This is the strategy personal care brand Gillette employed to boost sales for a range of Venus products. First, they collected data from female festivalgoers aged 18 to 34. They then delivered ads when the women were near a drugstore that stocks Venus products (compared to at the festival), or when they were at home and could browse Venus’ full product range online. The stores targeted saw a net footfall rate increase of 1.42%.

This targeting strategy to reach the festival-going audiences at the opportune moment drives high engagement rates, in-store traffic, and extends the life of the brand dollars spent on the festival branding campaign.

Assess Your Performance

The last part of our Bonnaroo study tested the impact of a sponsor’s brand awareness campaign to see if it ultimately drove in-store foot traffic and sales. We monitored their retail locations in the United States for 10 days following the festival and found that only 1% of the festivalgoers visited a store location within the time frame. While low, this begs the question: Could the sponsor have made their Bonnaroo sponsorship work harder for them? We wanted to see what the difference would be if we expanded our geo-fence to a two-mile radius around the thousands of store locations. This revealed that while only 1% of Bonnaroo festivalers made it through the restaurant door, 30% of them came within two miles of the sponsors store location during those ten-days. A small budget dedicated to sequentially targeting them with a mobile ad would have capitalized on the initial sponsor branding at Bonnaroo and provided that final nudge to convert to store, greatly increasing that 1% foot-traffic rate.

So in conclusion? Festivals don’t just provide advertisers with a way to reach music lovers while they’re enjoying the event; festivals also give them the time and place to begin forging what will become long and ongoing relationships with this key audience.

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How Clean is Your Location Data?


How Clean is Your Location Data?

Marketers may assume that the location data they purchase is fresh from the source, but the fact is that most vendors don’t use in-house data. That means that unless you have some way of checking to ensure your data’s freshness and accuracy, all you have your vendor’s word. You have to blindly trust that they are selling you what they’ve promised.

That leaves marketers in a bad spot, purchasing data without any way to understand how good it is – or if it’s good at all.

Why does clean data matter?

If you’re wondering what can go wrong, consider this: What if you were trying to target fitness enthusiasts, building an audience almost entirely on data that shows that these consumers go to a certain gym once a week? You have a whole campaign targeting this particular group of gym-goers, and there’s a lot riding on it. Now, what if there’s a fast food burger place directly across the street from that gym? What if that audience was actually going for burgers, fries and a super-sized shake every day at the time the data appeared to show they were going to the gym? That would throw off your campaign entirely; in fact your campaign would be targeting an audience that is exactly opposite of the audience you believed you were targeting, simple because the location data was off by a few meters. So are you 100 percent confident that your audience was going to the gym and not the burger joint?

Precision, freshness and cleanliness of your location data is critically important, as you can see. Even if your data was accurate, if it wasn’t timely, it could still dramatically – and negatively – impact your campaign results.

A proprietary tech stack is a key tool in ensuring data cleanliness, as is a team of data engineers & scientists that knows how to process, analyse & build algorithms to control the flow of data. To illustrate why these are necessary, Blis receives upwards of 40 billion bid requests a day. There is no way a human could check all of those bids and all that data; it simply has to be done by computers and algorithms. Apart from the sheer volume of data, humans can’t do the job nearly as well. Machines can very easily and accurately recognize the patterns and suspect behaviour over time that could point to the presence of bad data.

How is stored location data useful? Why wouldn’t you just use real-time location data?

While real-time location data has its purposes – for example, targeting people who are at the gym right now with an ad for coconut water – historical location data can be incredibly useful for building audiences and segments. It’s great to reach people who are at the gym right now, but consider the value of building an audience of people who go to the gym five days a week at 6:00 AM? Location data overlaid with behavioural data can tell us a lot about consumers and how they spend their time.

In keeping with our current example, imagine that our coconut water company partners with the NFL and Tom Brady to create a promotional video. The advertisers will need to target their fitness enthusiasts at the game, but it’s probably not a smart idea to try to get them to engage with the video while they’re at the stadium. First of all, they’re probably actually watching the game and less likely to engage anyway. Secondly, they probably don’t have access to wifi and wouldn’t want to use all their data to stream the video over a mobile network. Instead, the advertiser will rely on stored data to reach that audience later in the evening, when they’re at home. That way, when they recognize their target users are on a residential IP address, they can reach them across multiple screens, when they’re in a better setting and frame of mind to really engage with the promotional video.

Knowing where an audience has been is one thing, but knowing when and where to serve them an ad is something quite different. Historical location data can tell us so much about who the people in our audiences are; combining that information intelligently with real-time data about what’s going on around them allows you to engage the right audience in the right moment – rather than in the only moment To better illustrate this point, think of the many marketers who attempt to retarget young mothers online. If you’re a marketer for an ice cream brand, you will probably want to double those efforts when the temperature exceeds 75 degrees. In order to drive mothers to buy ice cream for their little ones on hot days, you need to have historical data that confirms that they actually are women with children, combined with real-time data about the weather in their current location. Location may also factor into the call to action (where is the nearest store for them to purchase ice cream?) as well as the attribution after the interaction. It’s all about tailoring the moment – something we at Blis do very well.

For all this to work as it should, location data must be clean and accurate. Marketers need to educate themselves better on location data and its uses so they can ask the right questions of vendors. Do not blindly trust in the data your purchase from your partners. Ask about sources. Request a demo that includes visualisation tools, like heat mapping and location profiling.

Remember: Even a few meters of inaccuracy could have you targeting French fry enthusiasts instead of fitness enthusiasts. And that, in turn, could mean your entire campaign is off, and your entire budget – not to mention all your effort – has been wasted.

In our next post, we’ll discuss device IDs, and why they’re so important for both targeting and attribution.

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Movement in a Blink


Movement in a Blink

Last May, Blis headlined MediaCom APAC’s inaugural tech event BLINK_live as a main sponsor. Blis Asia MD Regina Goh took the stage at the future-focused forum held at Shangri-La Singapore, repping to an audience of over sixty senior marketers. Her aim was to satiate a craving for fresh strategies with some food for thought by posing this question: “Are your customers telling you what they want through their movement data?”

As the only location tech company at the event, it was apt to talk about location data from a new, more relatable perspective of audiences and movement. We springboarded a pitch centered on our core belief that the value of location data lies in its ability to provide powerful, contextual information about a consumer’s journey. If the positive feedback and nodding heads in the room were any indication of the direction we’re headed, this is one conversation we are chuffed to initiate. In the mix of data play needed for a more effective marketing approach today, brands would be well advantaged to know there is more to location than a fixed dot on a map.

Why Movement?

In Asia, markets across the region are extremely fragmented and with this comes a unique set of challenges we are consequently posed to overcome. To drive market success, the team goes through great lengths to articulate the value of location data, even if this means scaling back on technical conversations reserved for more advanced, location-aware marketers.

This is not to say that marketers in the region are unaware of the power of location data. In fact, our days are spent preparing for the growing wave of brands and marketers who do understand (albeit on a basic level) and signal increasing interest to leverage our Blis data location-aware approach.

Why then is talking about Movement so important?

On the subject of location, its limitations are implied by referencing it as a fixed point. When you talk about the concept of movement, in contrast you think about motion that is dynamic, untethered and unanchored to a fixed point. A real world journey comes to mind, complete with human preferences and habits. Obviously, movement and location are fundamentally different concepts, but knowing that they are intrinsically linked changes perspective. So steering conversations toward movement data reframes the perception of location data, and this has helped us present a more macroscopic view of the relationship of people to places. Blis’ Insights Manager, Alex Wright, wrote about this in an earlier blog post, saying:

“Location and Place are important, but are arbitrary constructs without human interaction to create movement and bring purpose.”

How does Movement Data move marketers?

Simply put, understanding movement cracks the code of gauging consumer intent. Equating movement data to a person’s real world behaviour allows marketers to grasp scale – one of the issues the early days of location advertising has wrestled with. In tandem with ubiquitous smartphone usage and the adoption of programmatic, due time has passed to see kinks and flaws of early technologies iron themselves out. Technology has matured along with a marketer’s sense of sophistication when it comes to planning and deploying campaigns.

Knowing this, brands today don’t need to fixate on a fixed time and place to trigger location-based ads, precisely because our tech is literally built to “move” with the customer and map out audiences. Early iterations of location data usage such as proximity targeting, while still useful to a degree, no longer defines the full scope of what movement data offers when used to its full potential today.

Movement is powered by location data signals, and Blis understands this very well. Going back to the basics may seem counterintuitive for a future-looking tech company like ours, however, as indicated by the calibre of marketers who attended the talk – it seems the conversation is not only headed in the right direction, but is also gaining the momentum we’ve envisioned as a pioneer in this space years ago.

If you’re looking for next level knowledge, Blis’ Head of Product Amy Fox publishes a blog series covering advanced location-based advertising. She creates useful primers on 201 level issues such as differentiating data sources and pre and post-bid verification. Click on here and watch her space.

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How to Increase ROI and In-store Sales


How to Increase ROI and In-store Sales

A shopper’s path to purchase no longer looks like the linear train track it once did. Now, each unique individual seems to be riding their own personal roller coaster to the point of sale—complete with loops, drops, or sudden lurches forward.

In the world of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), the path to purchase is especially complex. Shoppers in the market for FMCGs tend to visit at least three retailers before making a purchase. Even while looking at items on the shelf, they tend to pull out their mobile phones to explore competing products and compare prices.

In this context, how can brands increase ROI and in-store sales for their CPGs?

They can start by identifying the perfect audience. One way they can do this is by looking at stores with the biggest sales opportunities—and reaching out to consumers inside the store or nearby. Blis and IRi are working together to make this possible. We’ve combined our respective location and sales data to determine the relationship between foot traffic and sales. IRi identifies stores where a particular brand’s sales are underperforming compared to its total category sales. Then we identify devices near these stores that match the brand’s target audience. Together, these valuable insights enable advertisers to deliver highly targeted ads to pre-profiled anonymized mobile devices.

Let’s say a certain women’s shampoo isn’t exactly flying off the shelves at a particular store. How can advertisers boost sales of that specific item at that specific store? First, they can identify their target audience, assume in this case an audience of women ages 24 to 54 is who they want to target. Then, they can deliver an ad for the shampoo brand to that audience of women who live nearby and are likely to go in-store and purchase it.

In order to drive those women into the stores from the street, and head to the cash register with the shampoo in hand, advertisers will need to craft creatives that do more than just expose the consumer to the product; they need to entice the individual to make the journey as well as the purchase. For example, the shampoo advertisers can offer consumers a 10% discount on the product when they buy at the target location. Or, they can deliver a helpful map to help guide that person to the store. The end result? Sales lift and increased ROI.

Brands should remember that when assessing the success of their campaigns, they need to look at uplift. Uplift in sales will tell advertisers exactly how lucrative their campaign has turned out to be. Foot traffic uplift, on the other hand, can tell brands how many people visited the store as a result of their efforts.

No matter where a consumer sits on their roller coaster ride to purchase, advertisers should come along: They’ll make the journey a whole lot smoother and faster.

Be sure to tune in next week to our last blog post in the Shopper Marketer series, we’ll be examining the following question: Do you know what aisle shoppers are in?

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How to clean your dirty data


How to clean your dirty data

In the geolocation business, accuracy is paramount. It’s all too easy to fuel an otherwise perfect campaign with dirty data, rendering it null and void, or pinpoint an individual to within five meters of their location, only to find you targeted the wrong person.

Dirty data, arising from technical glitches, corrupted data and criminal activity, is a common problem in location-based marketing. Its collection and sale affects 88% of companies and leads to a 12% revenue loss on average. But brands can protect themselves. They can start by working with partners who take fraud and inaccuracy seriously. They must demand transparency from their vendors by asking how they gather, filter and validate their data. This will help advertisers discern which vendors are worth working with, and in the process build a data landscape where vendors are held accountable.

Alternatively, accountability can be outsourced to third-party validators who carefully assess the accuracy of each campaign and ensure it’s reaching the right people. The quality of location verification still lags behind fraud, viewability, and content verification, but if the demand is there then the industry will step up to the mark. By requesting campaign validation, or choosing partners who already work closely with third-party validators, brands will see the quality and availability of location data verification gradually improve.

A beacon technology company is the kind of third party capable of demonstrating a campaign’s accuracy and helping brands understand their customers better through more accurate attribution. Through cross-referencing GPS and Wi-Fi location signals, the basis for beacon and proximity data, a campaign’s accuracy becomes doubly accounted for.

Vendors, on their part, need to make sure they are being transparent with their clients and scrupulous with the data they sell. They not only need to be able to spot bad data and remove it; they should also know how to use multiple data points to mitigate the sample bias. For instance, brands can partner with platforms which use a process of multi-point quality control to ensure that our GPS data is accurate. We then cross-reference this data against anonymized Wi-Fi addresses and our internal database for verification and scale. If any of the data does not initially pass our proprietary tech’s intense scrutiny, it’s excluded from our database. Our data hygiene protocol means that sometimes 85% of the data we collect in the course of a day is culled.

The fight against dirty data is an important one. But the attention to detail can’t end there, either. The issue of accuracy extends beyond purifying data, because with geo-location, the difference between five metres can be light years apart.

If you’re less than satisfied with your data sets, and have less to work with than expected, then there are innovative ways to leverage it to make sure you’re zeroing in on the desired audience. Let’s say a luxury brand wants to target guests at a high-end hotel. If the data isn’t specifically identifying people within the hotel’s boundaries, the brand may be targeting someone totally unsuitable who’s passing on the street. In this case, drawing polygons around our target zones – i.e. manually drawing lines around the perimeter of the hotel on a map – can tell us exactly who is inside or outside a building. After all, when it comes to hyperlocal targeting, whether someone is inside or outside a building means a world of difference.

Polygons are drawn around what we see when we take a bird’s eye view of buildings and other locations. A store, stadium or airport cannot be mapped out into perfect squares or circles, so drawing polygons ringfences highly specific locations to make the data you have count.

But drawing polygons isn’t a viable option for multiple locations, so that’s where another technique comes in. If a coffee shop chain wanted to target people nearby all of its branches, without the need to discern who’s inside and who’s outside the premises, we’d simply drop a pin in the coffee shop’s various locations and draw a circle around them. The size of the circle would depend on the campaign’s goals, and the radius could be increased or decreased during it, as required. This method is easily scalable for chains as the locations of various branches can be identified and incorporated easily.

Consumers are increasingly wedded to their smartphones, but even though there’s more location data than ever before, quantity just isn’t a substitute for quality. And unfortunately, the more marketing dollars that go towards dodgy dealings and dirty data, the greater the issue will become for the industry as a whole. But it’s possible to stop the data rot. With a combined effort from brands, vendors and third-party companies, the industry can change. Some spring cleaning, scrupulous data partners and using the data you do trust well is enough to ensure a healthier landscape and better results.

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How location based marketers predict the future


How location based marketers predict the future

The iPhone–which is turning ten this month– transformed the way people communicate, shop, and travel. It also transformed the way marketers reach their ideal audiences. For the first time, they could use the smartphone’s location data to find out where consumers were—and buy impressions accordingly.

Today, advertisers continue to use real-time location data to target consumers. But the industry has come a long way since 2007. Advertisers are moving beyond the real-time capabilities of location technology towards more advanced applications. Brands can boost campaign performance and ROI, by using historical data and AI-powered solutions to discover where consumers have been and where they are going.

Back to the Basics, Location 101

Location-based advertising means using real-time location data to reach out to consumers based on where they go. A common example of Location 101 is targeting consumers based on their distance from a given location in real-time, known as proximity targeting. For example, if a pharmacy wants to target young women inclined to purchase its products, they can collect mobile devices seen in similar or related locations. Using location technology, the pharmacy brand can retarget that audience group whenever they come within feet of one of the pharmacies with products they have in stock or specific promotions. The same example applies to many verticals, not just CPG.

But even proximity targeting has matured beyond these basic abilities. More advanced applications involve layering real-time location data with other valuable data for more granular targeting.

Let’s say a high-end retailer on a busy shopping street is using proximity targeting to reach consumers within 100 feet of their store. That brand could be wasting impressions on people who wouldn’t shop at a luxury store in the first place. But how would they know? If the brand pairs its proximity data with consumer information such as shopping histories, demographic and geographic details, they can more accurately target the right person. For instance, they can improve campaign performance by reaching out only to high-income earners who have previously shopped in a different luxury store—individuals who are not just nearby, but also likely to buy.

From Mobile to Mobility

Brands need to remember that they aren’t advertising to a mobile device, rather, they are advertising to a mobile person. Therefore, the importance of looking at historical location data to get to know their consumers and their preferences is paramount. For instance, sports enthusiasts could be identified by the quantity of trips they make to sports fields each month. Their habits can be identified by the types of hotels they stay at while on the road to the games. Based on this historical information, advertisers can utilize this data to target this audience with ads for fan gear when close to sporting goods stores or hotel deals when traveling on the road to games. This type of data builds rich audience targeting segments for marketers so they can advertise based on consumer behaviour.

Places we go over time reveal more than just consumers’ preferences; historical location data can also tell advertisers things like when consumers tend to go to the gym, how often they go shopping, or how frequently they are heading to the airport—from specific location, the day of week, time, to duration of time spent in a location. Such insights can be used to retarget consumers not only at the right place, but also at the right time.

For example, someone who visits the airport monthly is likely a frequent flyer, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be receptive to an airline ad while boarding a competitor’s plane. Instead of using proximity targeting to reach this flyer at the airport, the airline can analyze historical location patterns to reach out after their travel when they are back at work or at home—and before they book their next flight.

AI and Advanced Analytics

While many brands focus on real-time location and historical behavioral patterns, other advertisers are looking into the future. With machine learning and predictive analytics, these advertisers lean on their technology partners’ knowledge of behavioral patterns and advanced algorithms to drive in-store foot traffic.

Brands drive foot traffic by targeting only those with strong purchase intent at exactly the right time and place. Brands can now tell their tech partners how many visitors they need in what locations and buy them on a cost-per-visit model; only being charged once a store visit occurs.

For example, a fast-food chain can identify its ideal audience by looking at individuals who visit this chain a few times a month. Then, they can deliver ads to these individuals at the time and place they are most receptive based on past behavior patterns to drive them in store. Such advanced techniques increase foot traffic as well as in-store sales.

From basic applications to more advanced use cases, location data and technology continue to alter the advertising world. As the industry evolves, brands should look beyond where consumers are in the moment, to where they’ve been and where they’re going in order to improve conversation rates, waste less ad dollars, and increase sales.

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The IAB 2017 Mobile Symposium


The IAB 2017 Mobile Symposium

A Mobile Guy at a Mobile Conference Listening to Content on Mobile – Thoughts from the Day

The IAB held its 2017 Mobile Symposium in New York on June 13. The theme for this year’s event was “Always On: Surviving and Thriving in a Mobile World.” This could have been the theme for the past five years’ events – and could probably work for the next five years ahead as well. As mobile handset numbers continue to grow globally, the fight for attention and survival on the smartphone screen will be increasingly more important – and more challenging.

Obviously, there was a lot to discuss at the IAB event, so I’ll dive right into some of the themes that were featured throughout the day:

Mobile Time Spent vs. Mobile Ad Spend

Today, advertisers are spending more money on display, but that trend is beginning to shift: as consumers spend increasingly more time on mobile, our ad spend should shift accordingly. There is a $16 billion gap today between the time spent on mobile and the ad dollars funneling towards it. Research shows that a full 28 percent of consumer time is spent on mobile, yet only 21 percent of ad spend heads in that direction.

Consider too that competition for attention is coming from multiple screens. People watching primetime TV are generally on multiple screens, and approximately 80+ percent look to their phones when a commercial comes on. The younger the audience, the higher the percentage turning to their mobile screens. Advertisers spend $39 for a prime-time CPM, but mobile CPMs could be as low as $7 to reach the same person at the same moment – and on mobile, you’d have their undivided attention.

From Mobile to Mobility

Another common theme discussed focuses on the philosophical aspects of mobile marketing – and brings up some very valid ideas that we frequently overlook. Alexa Christon, head of media innovation at GE, led a session that discussed how her company “sets itself apart by weighing scalable options against cutting-edge solutions in a constantly evolving market.” There were a lot of smart takeaways as Christon dove into the ways in which GE focuses more on customer behavior, rather than specific channels.

One key point from Christon is that we must remember that we are not advertising to a mobile device, we’re advertising to a mobile person. Too frequently we focus too heavily on the screen, rather than the person looking at the screen, and how they are experiencing and receiving our messages.

At Blis, we remind marketers of the importance and value of taking into consideration behavioral data over time and using it to build audience profiles. These profiles will serve to drive better and more accurate targeting.

Beating Ad Blocking with Mobile

Mark Howard, CRO of Forbes talked about “Reimagining the User Experience,” an important topic given the state of ad blocking today. There are no ad blockers for formats other than digital. Consumers may turn off the TV when a commercial comes on. They can rip a full-page print ad out of a magazine. However, they do not seem as violently opposed to these as they do to digital advertisements, where users are actively blocking ads from their screens. The number of consumers using ad blockers should be taken as a strong clue that the user experience needs to improve if we are going to have effective campaigns -and if we intend to continue growing ad spend.

The creative possibilities for ads are so much better on mobile than on any other platform: augmented reality, AI-based ads, location-relevant ads. We can create ads that react to shaking or swiping a device. We can design interactive gaming ads. There shouldn’t be any reason for consumers to choose to block ads. In fact, the only reasons for a bad user experience on mobile are laziness, lack of budget or lack of creativity. The mobile platform truly gives us the opportunity to “surprise and delight.”


While the Symposium was a great event overall, there were some misconceptions about mobile that should be clarified. Before wrapping up, let me quickly run through those:

There seemed to be some confusion around what certain types of location data are capable of, for example cell tower triangulation, and what it does and what it does not do. It is not capable of accuracy down to a user specific lat/long – but it is fine if your target is broader, like a neighborhood versus a specific business. It appears that some marketers do not understand the in’s and out’s of location data types but, fear not, we have explained that in another one of our posts here.

There is also a critical misconception that mobile advertising is only for young audiences. Many marketers seem to think that mobile is only valuable to for reaching millennials and younger targets – but the stats prove that’s just not true. In fact, one out of every five people use their phone every five mins, the majority (63 percent) of smartphone owners worldwide use their mobile device at least every 30 minutes. Here in the U.S., 77 percent of all Americans own smartphones – from every age and every demographic!

One key takeaway for me was the observation that marketers still are not looking at location as a way of behavioral profiling & targeting. Their view seems limited to the basics of geo-fencing and geo-targeting. At Blis, we believe that where you go defines who you are and it is about understanding the movements of your audience to generate the most impactful advertising.

The IAB Mobile Symposium was an informative and well-organized event overall. There were lots of new ideas and helpful reminders shared. For me, it was a solid reminder that at Blis, we remain ahead of the curve in location advertising, and we have a lot of knowledge to share with the rest of the industry.

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Put Ad Dollars Where Your Consumers Are


Put Ad Dollars Where Your Consumers Are

Across the world, mobile is our primary device. For browsing online or talking to friends, it’s the one we instinctively reach for and the one we always take with us on the go. In the US, spend on mobile has overtaken desktop : as consumers spend more time on their mobile devices, marketers worldwide hedge their bets – and their budgets – on the small screen.

In the Gulf countries, 9 in 10 or more own a smartphone, making penetration so high it casts a shadow over the rest of the MENA region, and in fact, most of the world. The region’s advertisers estimate that 70 percent of ads viewed are on mobile.

eMarketer predicts that mobile will account for 63.3 percent of digital and 24.3 percent of total global ad spend in 2017. Research also predicts that there will be 66% mobile phone users worldwide. Based on MENA consumer habits when it comes to all things mobile, we could expect to see a high media spend on mobile MENA but in fact, the opposite is true. Only 6 percent of ad dollars go to mobile platforms. A surprising figure for a lucrative, affluent market with one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world.

The risk of lagging behind

Mobile isn’t getting the attention it deserves from marketers in MENA because of a lack of understanding of how it can be used to reach target audiences, and an ingrained preference for traditional channels, especially outdoor and newspapers. But the rise of mobile in the Gulf market demands a quick and nimble response from brands who otherwise risk lagging behind the consumers they want to appeal to.

Fortunately, things may be about to change. From 2010 to 2015, MENA’s digital ad spend grew at a CAGR of 39 percent, which was the largest growth rate in the world, almost twice the figure of most other markets. 95 percent of MENA marketers are planning to allocate more budget to mobile, and over the next year, 63 percent plan on investing in mobile video, while 59 percent say the same about location data.

Making the most of mobile

Mobile is a unique and powerful opportunity for marketers where they can target their audience efficiently. Unlike desktop, your options aren’t limited to the home or office. At home and on the move, consumers are generating advanced location data that can inform sophisticated mobile campaigns.

Long-term, historical location data reveals insights that browsing history cannot, such as where someone spends their offline free time, and places they revisit often, whether it’s an art gallery or the mall. This information, unobtainable by any other means, builds a bigger, though anonymised, picture of individual customer behaviour and makes things easier for marketers who want to reach them.

Real-time location data, on the other hand, can be combined with information like search history and social media data for the kind of results that aren’t possible on other channels. Let’s say an affluent woman who regularly browses boutique fitness classes online is walking past a high-end sportswear store. That brand can entice her inside the shop by delivering an irresistible 15 percent off discount code. Plus, Blis’ Audience and Path tools can ensure the message isn’t accidentally delivered to the man next to her, and that any actions online or in-store are attributed back to that ad.

However, targeting on the go is not always appropriate, even on mobile. A 15 second video ad, for example, wouldn’t work for someone on the move. But once our hypothetical consumer gets home, and her phone connects to the WiFi, Blis’ Audience+ technology establishes relationships between her WiFi address and where she has been that day. This opens up the chance for brands to target her in the comfort of her own home, rather than pushing the wrong format at the wrong moment.

Who will bridge the Gulf’s mobile gap?

It is time to question whether ad dollars in the Gulf are following consumer behaviour and inspiring valuable actions with no media budget wastage. The region’s high smartphone penetration and affluent target market is a lucrative combination for marketers looking to implement savvy mobile strategies using advanced location data. Will brands operating in MENA continue to favour traditional channels, or grasp the opportunity to move the region’s marketing forward?

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How Brands Boost Sales This Father’s Day


How Brands Boost Sales This Father’s Day

Dads are notoriously hard to shop for, which makes Father’s Day a real challenge for many spouses, partners and kids. Should we take him out for lunch again? Does he really want another tie? Does he have enough socks?

While the family frets over what to get dad, advertisers often worry about how to reach consumers on Father’s Day. Advertisers will have a lot of opportunity this year, as spending is set to reach a record high of $15.5 billion according to the National Retail Federation. So how can brands make sure they’re delivering ads to their ideal audience at the right time and place?

We’ve got some tips for advertisers looking to reach the gift-givers and maximize sales this June.

Difficult Dads: Father's Day infographic for Advertisers

Talk to Mom

What’s the best way to figure out what Dad wants for Father’s Day? Talk to Mom. And advertisers should, too. In fact, brands looking to build the right audience this Father’s Day should talk to all the women in Dad’s life.

That’s what a large drugstore chain did—with excellent results. Seeking to drive sales both online and in stores, the brand constructed their ideal audience of spouses, partners and daughters by looking at females aged 18 to 34. Then they combined this data with more specific parameters: They decided to reach out to young families who were seen browsing similar content and were located near one of the brand’s stores.

This kind of hyper-specific targeting reduces waste and boosts campaign performance. In fact, the brand found that their campaign resulted in a 47% CTR uplift.

Continue the Conversation at Home

Once a brand has found their ideal audience of thoughtful gift-givers, advertisers should make sure to follow up with the shoppers consistently with a targeted approach.

For example, one hardware store adopted a successful mobile retargeting strategy that helped raise brand awareness and increase foot traffic in their stores. Finding that men generally purchased hardware products in-store, while women were more likely to purchase online, they devised a strategy to reach women at home. First, they identified an audience of fathers who lived within a 20-minute drive of one of their stores. Using their anonymized device IDs, they linked these individuals back to their at-home Wi-Fi. Then, they used this data to serve Father’s Day gift ads to other home devices when they were being used to browse content associated with the females of the household.

The results? Conversations took an average of just 75 hours, and the campaign saw a foot traffic rate of 1.79%. And perhaps most importantly? By negatively targeting any male content on the home devices, there was no chance of Dad having his Father’s Day surprise ruined by seeing an ad for a product browsed by his wife.

Go Where Billboards Can’t

An online gifting store wanted to buy inventory inside a large mall in London for Father’s Day last year, but they realized all the available billboards were located outside. In order to reach shoppers already inside the mall’s parameters, they turned to mobile ads instead to re-target devices that tracked past the billboards, once inside.

They weren’t disappointed: Overlaying first-party demographic data with current and historical location data, they served ads to women and girls located in high-end malls around the city. This was also an example of inverse gender targeting whereby gift ideas for boys were served to girls and vice versa. The retailer raised brand awareness, drove an increase in app downloads, and saw a CTR of 0.84%. This kind of strategy can be used by brands during Father’s Day to inversely target the gift-givers with ads which would usually encourage Dads to buy.

Remember the Last-minute Shoppers

Once brands have found their ideal audience of generous gift-givers, when’s the best time to reach out?

We’ve found that campaigns perform best actually on Father’s Day. That’s why brands should try to spend as much as possible on the final days of the campaign to boost performance rates and reach those last-minute shoppers. Make sure to reserve budget accordingly.

So while families figure out what they’re getting for Dad, advertisers should lend them a helping hand. From inspiring gift ideas to encouraging consumer purchase, brands seeking to increase ad engagement and sales won’t be disappointed this Father’s Day.

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The Mobile App Measurability Challenge for DSPs


The Mobile App Measurability Challenge for DSPs

Why I think the industry is not ready to bill off the viewable impression in mobile just yet.

Whilst Dan Wilson is paving the way for his futuristic turbo-charged data rocket-ship, see his blog here, I, on the other hand have been stuck firmly in the present grappling with the challenge of delivering viewable ad campaigns in mobile.

Blis’ in-house built DSP specialises in delivering ads to users based on their location data. Whilst the platform is device-agnostic, the location focus means that the majority of campaigns are delivered on mobile, and within that mobile app.

Along with ad fraud and brand safety, viewability is high on the agenda for brand advertisers, yet it’s only in the past year that they have started to enforce those standards by demanding to pay vendors on the viewable impression across all digital activity. It’s an approach that has been rolled out in certain markets and is being rapidly adopted across the industry. A savvy vendor knows that they must start offering value to their clients in the form of viewable ad campaigns.

That’s easier said than done, delivering viewable ads in mobile represents a significant challenge, especially for DSPs that buy across a wide range of publishers. At the heart of the matter is a lack of standards for measurement. As a result, Brands have taken matters into their own hands, partnering with their preferred third party verification platforms to define and implement their own. Finding a solution that fits all is extremely challenging.

Added to that is the fact that viewability tracking technology that works seamlessly in a web environment does not perform the same way in-app. The MRC confirmed as much in their ‘16 guidelines, stating that an MRAID based tracking solution is insufficient for measurement in mobile. Therefore for true measurement, the app must have integrated the third party content verification provider’s SDK integrated.

Most publishers and SSPs have realised a little late that they need to integrate these SDKs to facilitate viewability measurement. They are reacting now, but with the process of onboarding and rolling out the SDK being known to take as long as a year, there is still a huge deficit in measurable supply. At the time of writing, still as little as 10% of in-app programmatic supply is measurable*.

This takes us back to the issue of standardisation, with brands choosing different third parties to measure with, it means that publishers, in theory, have to onboard multiple SDKs to be measurable across all. The costs and dev work for doing this are unfeasible for smaller publishers. It also means that with some publishers working with one SDK, and others with another, not one vendor can provide complete visibility across the whole landscape. The IAB are addressing this with their initiative for an Open Source SDK, but it’ll be a while before this project has a significant impact.

In the meantime DSPs have to do what they can to deliver viewable ad campaigns in a largely blind environment. This a labour-intensive task involving manual optimisation towards measurable, and viewable, inventory. Once the costs of compensating for unmeasurable inventory and partnering with third parties are factored in, it’s an expensive operation too.

In my view, brands should strive for viewability but demands must be aligned with what is achievable within the industry. Until measurement is possible in-app, vendors should not be penalised for this; a stance seemingly supported by the IAB’s recent Viewability Status report. Ultimately, viewability shouldn’t detract from a consideration of other factors that drive campaign success such as time engaged with ad and post-exposure actions. It’d be a shame to blacklist app inventory for lack of measurability, when it is a truly optimised environment for the mobile device, and highly effective at driving brand engagement.

*according to Blis DSP.

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GDPR: When Challenge Becomes Opportunity


GDPR: When Challenge Becomes Opportunity

The GDPR isn’t some former East European Communist State. It’s an extensive piece of legislation affecting all EU members, anyone who interacts with EU consumers, and anyone who employs people in the EU…And the UK government has already committed to keeping GDPR post-Brexit.

But the point of this post is to show some appreciation for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will be enforceable within the next 12 months. It will have significant implications for digital marketing within the EU and quite possibly the rest of the world, eventually.

Threat or opportunity?

Nevertheless, the lack of understanding and misconceptions of the scale and full impact of GDPR is hampering efforts to comply. A recent article in The Drum, referencing a YouGov survey commissioned by law firm Irwin Mitchell, reported that almost a fifth of companies in the marketing and advertising sector would go out of business if they were to be hit by a fine for non-compliance of the new GDPR legislation. Failure in being capable of detecting a data breach, either internally or from a supplier was the main reason so many businesses would at risk of prosecution.

Now, there are some horror stories doing the rounds about GDPR: the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) hiring “hundreds” of extra staff in preparation for a massive increase in cases to prosecute (sent to me by a privacy vendor, no doubt in the hope I would engage their services); that GDPR will be the death of adtech; that there is an arms race for consumer data now to grandfather the consent for when GDPR comes into force… and so on.

Will technocrats based in Brussels really understand the details of algorithms created by Facebook, Google et al, to be able to regulate effectively? That’s debateable. What’s not up for debate and requires no understanding of profiling algos, is that the meaning of “privacy” in GDPR really relates to the ‘right to be forgotten’ – and that’s just plain and simple.

It’s true that much of the guidance offered by the ICO is pretty ambiguous. However, marketers that actually understand their customers shouldn’t panic. There are already well-established best practices and policies, which any responsible business should already have in place, that are most likely sufficient for marketing companies to remain safe, albeit with making one or two additional changes to their data strategy.

Drain the swamp

Any organisation that is living in fear of GDPR probably shouldn’t exist for much longer. The best way to look at GDPR is that for the first time European companies have a single set of principles by which to operate. No more ambiguity, no more implicit/explicit consent conundrums to deal with. This can only be good for adtech, as ultimately without data these businesses just become ad networks ‘spraying and praying’.

Safe Harbor / Privacy Shield are admirable attempts to put some order into chaos for US companies transacting in the EU. And hopefully an understanding of GDPR will give EU companies transacting in the USA and edge.

Global perspective

The dust needs to settle before we can can really work out the differences between EU and USA data protection regulations, but we will paying close attention to developments. Wider afield, in Latam, Asia and Africa, any regulations around data privacy are pretty relaxed right now.

Australian regulators have already imposed some fairly exacting responsibilities on marketers around requirements for opt-in consumer consent, before using their data, and it’s more than likely the government there will go in the same direction as Europe with data protection laws.

Incremental steps

Location data comes in many forms but from our perspective, mobile location data used for commercial purposes is already compliant with applicable regulations, and we’ve begun working with all relevant partners to be ready for GDPR next year.

We are already registered with the ICO. We did this in advance of any need to do it and this supports our position on ensuring we are always trying to stay ahead of the most current legislation. Blis has also begun a certification procedure with Truste (now known as TrustArc) on our data collection and data usage policies. We believe this investment will provide additional reassurance to our partners that Blis continues to adhere to the regulatory framework.

As one of the first companies that has location data as its primary focus, Blis has a significant role in helping to shape the ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ where geo-data is being used in advertising. We are actively engaged with all relevant industry trade association policy initiatives in the markets we operate in to ensure our voice is heard.

Blis will clearly continue to demonstrate our commitment to protecting consumer privacy and data and we would be delighted to discuss our efforts in more detail with you at any time. Clients can rest assured that privacy and data protection is at the heart of our ecosystem and as such, anonymous and fully opted-in data will become the foundation of the tech underpinning adtech.

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Using Location Data for Personalization


Using Location Data for Personalization

A single, giant billboard designed with mass audiences in mind is no longer enough to turn heads or lift sales. Today, individuals crave more personal communication from brands, preferring unique and customized ads on their personal devices to any form of mass communication. In fact, personalization is more than just a preference for most consumers: 54% have come to expect it, believing brand communications should be “tailored to their values and preferences.”

And with the power to boost conversions by more than 27%, personalization is good for marketers, too. So it’s no wonder many are putting it at the forefront of their strategies. But in order to get it right, marketers need to pay attention to where consumers go—from ad creation to delivery.

Customized Creatives

What’s the best way to get to know your customer on a personal level? Spend the day with them—and find out how (and where) they spend their time.

Historical location data can help advertisers get a good idea of who their customers really are. They can identify, for instance, a sporty young woman by seeing her history of visits to the health food store, gym, yoga studio, and local juice bar.

Insights derived from location data can empower advertisers to craft ads that are tailor-made for the individual. A juice brand, for example, may feature someone doing yoga in a short video ad to appeal to their active, yoga-going clientele.

Personalized Delivery

Once location data has enabled advertisers to understand their ideal audience and craft the perfect message, how can they use it to deliver an ad at just the right moment?

By looking at where consumers are, where they’ve been and where they’re going, brands will be able to deliver ads at the time and place that makes the most sense for the consumer.

Avertisers should consider using real-time location data to send ads to individual based on their proximity to a specific location. For example, a grocery store may deliver an ad to the health-conscious yogi when she walks within 50 meters of a store location. Using a custom-made creative, the brand can invite the potential customer to check out a new sale on fresh, organic produce.

But real-time location data isn’t the only kind of data that can help advertisers deliver personalized message at the most opportune moment. They can also collect and analyze historical data to reach out when a consumer is most likely to convert. Blis Futures, for instance, uses AI-powered location technology to target consumers at the time and place most likely to bring consumers in store.

Tune in next week to check out our next blog post all about how to increase ROI and in-store sales.

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How Sports Marketers Win Big this Summer


How Sports Marketers Win Big this Summer

From the basketball playoffs to the U.S. Open to the start of baseball season, spring and summer sports draw enormous crowds and countless spectators across the country. Earlier this year, the NBA All-Star Game drew an average of 7.8 million viewers alone, and last’s year’s U.S. Open set a new daily attendance record at 65 thousand fans. Meanwhile, brands are exceeding these numbers with their marketing dollars.


With so much opportunity—and competition—how can marketers stand out from the crowd and forge meaningful relationships with sports fans?

We’ve put together some best practices that will enable marketers to identify their perfect audiences and build lifelong relationships with super fans this season.

Meet Them at the Game

Marketers wanting to meet—and reach—sports fans may choose to sponsor sports content online or purchase expensive logos on advertising panels at stadiums. But what’s really the best way for brands to deliver their ads to sports-goers?

Even in 2017, the majority of digital advertising continues to be served via contextual targeting. Data from a custom Blis study shows that only 32% of sports fans browse sports-related content while at sporting events. This means that if marketers only focus on context-driven digital strategies, they’ll miss out on the opportunity to reach almost two-thirds of sports fans. Instead, these marketers would be wise to know that over half the fans visiting the Metlife stadium last year favored weather, entertainment, science & gaming content while at the game.

Moreover, ads appearing on stadium billboards might not lead to desired conversions like purchases or website visits. The Metife stadium, for instance, is sponsored by an insurance company, but how many football fans at the half-time show are signing up for insurance plans, let alone paying attention to the ads? And perhaps more importantly, will these fans see ads for that insurance company again after they leave the stadium?

Brands should see sporting events not only as the endgame of their marketing efforts, but also as the place to identify their ideal audiences—and begin forging meaningful relationships with them. Using sophisticated location data, brands can identify fans based on their mobile devices. Whether marketers geo-fence stadiums to collect device IDs, look at Wi-Fi check-ins or harness beacon technology, brands can build accurate pools of consumers who attended the big game.

But just knowing who went to the playoffs—and who came back for the finals—isn’t all location data can tell marketers; it can continue to provide important insights into each individual, including where they live, work, shop and where they like to go before and after the game—information that’s critical for retargeting.

Such data becomes even more useful when paired with other insights. By taking a look at demographic data and purchase histories, for instance, marketers can find out how much disposable income these fans have or how much they tend to spend around game time. Someone may be a diehard Yankees fan, but she can also be a mother-of-two who enjoys taking the kids to the mall after each ballgame. Such rich information will make it a whole lot easier for brands to craft effective, personalized marketing campaigns.

Reach Out at the Right Time

As any successful coach will tell you, timing is critical to success. Sports marketing is no exception. An alcohol brand would do well to target baseball fans in the hours before the first and after the last pitch as fans congregate in nearby bars before heading in and celebrate/drown sorrows before heading home.

Other brands may want to reach out to consumers after they’ve left the stadium. In these cases, marketers should continue to pay attention to location data. Again, it’s tempting for marketers to think it’s best to choose sports-related content to reach these stadium-goers long after the game. But our study reveals that less than half of sports fans (47%) seen at stadiums browse sports-related content after a game. In order to reach the remaining 53% of fans, marketers will need to learn more about them through other data sources, including historical location data, browsing histories and demographic data.

Paying attention to location means more than just targeting consumers at home or at a stadium; it also means paying attention to which devices consumers use and when. For example, the insurance brand can invite the sports fan to sign up for offers while he’s working on his desktop, where it will be easier to fill out a form, or smoothly stream a video via his home wifi.

Adidas recently launched a location-powered ad campaign designed to boost brand awareness and drive foot traffic to Intersport stores. The brand identified its target audience by collecting location data from soccer fields holding weekend league matches and pick-up soccer games. They then served video ads to these devices when they were at home connected to Wi-Fi. The campaign resulted in a 78% view-through rate and 5.5% increase in foot traffic.

Stay in Touch After the Championship’s Over

When brands go to the games, and stay in touch with fans wherever they go, they’ll be well-equipped to reach ideal audiences and build a loyal following. With location-based insights and advertising strategies, brands can make sure they win big on and off the courts this summer.

But the process of forging meaningful relationships with consumers extends well beyond the NBA finals or the U.S. Open championship. Brands must remain dedicated to identifying, understanding and reaching their ideal audiences, whether fans are getting ready to purchase their season tickets or pack up their jerseys till next year.

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Where does that latitude/longitude come from?


Where does that latitude/longitude come from?

In our second post of this series, “Which Data Source is Best? SDK vs. Bid Stream vs. Beacon,” we discussed the various sources of location data and how you can use each of them. We also hope we made one point very clear: GPS data is the absolute gold standard in location.

So when it comes to bid stream data, everyone wants GPS, but a lot of that lat/long information actually comes from centroids. Far less precise than in-device GPS, centroids represent any central location, like a city or a country, and they are not the most reliable source for accurate location data.

Here’s why: GPS data can only be collected when a user gives express permission via an app or mobile website to do so. When a user refuses permission for an app to use their device’s location data, in order to serve an ad, a centroid is used to estimate a location instead. A third-party IP-to-location provide will, in real time, send the user’s IP address to a partner who will see who the carrier of that phone is, then fling back a location they associate with that carrier. So, if you’re a Verizon customer, your location may be assumed to be New Jersey, since that’s where Verizon is headquartered – even though you’re in Westchester, New York.

There are many bad actors in the digital advertising space who will try to pass centroid data off as GPS. Sometimes this is simply due to a lack of education, but sometimes it’s due to greed. Data with lat/long information is extremely valuable in today’s market. However, by trying to pass off less accurate centroid data as GPS, these publishers are doing more harm than good. Selling bad data puts all data into question; bad data yields poor results, and no one will pay a premium for data that may not deliver.

And yet, nearly half of the data that comes to Blis is centroid data that publishers are attempting to pass off as GPS. We have rigorous processes in place to catch it before it ever can reach our customers, but of course, not all advertisers work with us. Advertisers working with less responsible partners may never know how poor the quality of their location data is!

To illustrate how bad the problems with centroid data can be, there was a campaign we ran at Blis years ago that involved several geo-fences in metropolitan areas across England. However, shortly after the campaign began, we realized that 95 percent of the campaign’s volume was coming from a single geo-fence – one which wasn’t even in the most densely populated areas encompassed by the campaign. Further investigation revealed that millions of bid requests were coming from one specific set of lat/long coordinates – an area less than a single square meter. The only way this could have possibly occurred would have been if thousands of smart phones were stacked on top of each other in a pile over a thousand phones high, and all requesting ads at the exact same moment. It was physically impossible.

It’s because of fraudulent data like this that we invented our SmartPin technology. We decided that rather than battling fraud in court, educating marketers and providing reliable solutions was a far more productive path.

To ensure you’re getting the best location data possible, working with Blis is the obvious solution – but we understand you may have partners you trust in place already. If you’re not confident you’re getting the best quality data, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Where do you source your data?
  • Do you use bid stream data? Is it strictly GPS, or do you use centroid data, as well?
  • How do you validate that the data is GPS data?
  • What’s your methodology for filtering bad data?
  • If your provider can’t answer these questions, they’re not good enough for you. If they can answer, ask them to prove it.

At Blis, we strive relentlessly for transparency. Saying that data is high quality isn’t good enough; we need to keep asking questions and keep digging. We will continue to do that, and to share heat maps and visual representations of our data. And we’ll keep doing what we can to educate marketers, so that you don’t have to trust blindly in your data partners. You’ll be able to ask the right questions, and know what the answers must be.

We’ll take this conversation a step further in our next blog post, which will arm you with the right questions to ask about the cleanliness of your location data.

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How to Turn Consumers into Shoppers


How to Turn Consumers into Shoppers

Marketers spend a lot of time identifying their ideal audiences. But once they figure that out, how do they make sure those individuals actually make it to the register?

Through location data and technology.

When advertisers use location to understand consumers and deliver ads, they’ll see their ideal audiences go from strangers to shoppers to loyal customers. Here’s how they can do this.

Getting to Know Consumers

Before advertisers can bring consumers in store, they’ll need to get to know what they like. They’ll have to identify their needs and habits, discovering where they go, what they do, and when they shop: insights that will enable them to deliver perfect, personalized messages all along the customer journey.

By analyzing location data, advertisers can begin to map out consumers’ past and present shopping habits. They can discover, for instance, that a new parent drops the kids off at daycare five days a week and visits the gym on Mondays, the grocery store on Tuesdays, and the mall on Fridays.

At Blis, we use our sophisticated technology to collect this data: Our Smart Pin technology makes sure that data is accurate by filtering out anything that looks suspicious. This dedication to accuracy is key: Brands will completely misunderstand their target audience if their location data is telling them an individual is at a McDonald’s rather than the gym next door.

Once equipped with present and historical location data, brands can get a holistic view of customers by pairing that information with other data sources, including demographic information, browsing histories, and shopping patterns. All this can indicate to marketers that the new parent has a high disposable income and has been looking online at baby clothes.

From Consumer to Shopper

Information about where consumers go empowers marketers not only to understand their ideal audiences, but also to engage with them, delivering personalized messages that will turn consumers into happy shoppers.

But this doesn’t just happen with a single, well-placed ad. In order to encourage audiences to shop, brands must build relationships with them over time. And they can do this by reaching out at different times of the day based on location data. A children’s clothing brand, for instance, can invite parents to browse their online merchandise when they are relaxing at home using the Wi-Fi.

Advertisers should lay the foundation for a strong brand-consumer relationship by using both present and historical location data to usher these consumers in store. Brands can also deliver ads to these individuals when they come within a certain distance of a specific location. For example, when that parent visits the mall as she usually does on Fridays, a brand can send her an ad with a store locator map to encourage her to browse baby clothes in person.

Most recently, Blis Futures launched, enabling brands to harness the power of historical location data and sophisticated algorithms to deliver messages at the moment most likely to bring consumers in-store. Futures identifies consumers most likely to visit specific locations, then provides advertisers a guarantee they will only be charged per consumer visit. This is revolutionary for shopper marketers looking to increase foot traffic and in-store sales, as it eliminates wasted dollars and boosts campaign performance.

From Happy Shopper to Loyal Customer

Once brands have turned consumers into in-store shoppers, how can they make sure they remain loyal store customers?

First, advertisers can use location data to enhance in-store experiences. Using beacon technology, advertisers can identify when consumers enter the stores and deliver mobile messages that will make shopping experiences more convenient or personalized.

Secondly, they can continue to reach out to consumers long after first contact. By communicating with consumers whether they are walking towards a store or leaving with bags in hand, brands can make sure consumers become shoppers again and again.

If you found this useful, and would like to learn some more shopper marketing best practices, tune in to our blog post next week on how to layer location on top of content for the holy grail: personalization.

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Pre-bid/Post-bid Verification: What are your options?


Pre-bid/Post-bid Verification: What are your options?

In the world of programmatic advertising, verification has become table stakes. Without some kind of guarantee of brand safety or viewability, many advertisers would be reticent to invest in digital at all.

Most of this verification is pre-bid verification. To explain it simply, as an advertiser enters a bid for a placement, a third party scans the page against a pre-determined set of rules to ensure the page on which the ad will appear is appropriate. For example, if you’re advertising Kool-Aid, you may have rules against appearing on pages that contain profane language. You may also, for obviously reasons, want to avoid appearing adjacent to content about childhood obesity or tooth decay. Your verification partner would be tasked with ensuring that your display ads appear in environments that are free of any of that content. However, you probably don’t want to block entire publications or networks, so verification has to be performed on a case-by-case, impression-by-impression basis.

The challenge with pre-bid verification is that every decision made about a programmatic placement occurs in less than 200 milliseconds. A company like Blis sees 200 thousand bid requests every second, and critical decisions need to be made against literally all of them. Those decisions need to be made quickly enough to avoid missing opportunities to reach audiences at key moments in their customer journeys.

Post-bid verification occurs after the ad has run. Rather than proactively preventing your ad from running in unsafe environments, it reports on where ads ran the day prior and allows advertisers to determine that all placements were appropriate, and whether they want to make any changes to rules for subsequent runs.

While post-bid provides a great opportunity for advertisers and their partners to ensure that every placement has been viewable and brand-safe. However, it can put advertisers with viewability targets in somewhat awkward positions if those targets are unmet on any given day.

In location-based advertising, verification is a new field that we’re only beginning to explore – and it represents a huge opportunity. However, it also introduces some controversy, as there are few third parties capable of accurately verifying location. While there are many verification companies in the market today, and some, like Nielsen, offer audience verification, they focus more on age and gender than location – and none are capable of accurately verifying location at all just yet.

At Blis, we can proudly offer pre-bid verification to our clients. We review all the data we receive from our publishing partners in two-week chunks, and we create visualizations of that data so we can carefully look for patterns that seem suspicious or otherwise non-human. Our location data is scored based on those reviews as either a pass or a fail. Any publisher with data that has received a “fail” is blocked from providing data for the next day. Through this rigorous, ongoing process, we can ensure that our data is trustworthy every single day, and that our clients’ budgets are never wasted on inaccurate lat/long data.

While we don’t offer post-bid verification just yet, we may in the future. We recognize that fraud is a concern in all areas of digital advertising, location included, and want our clients to feel confident that the data and services we provide are both reliable and trustworthy. And, as with the data powering all programmatic advertising, we don’t believe anyone should be allowed to grade their own homework. In the interest of moving the industry forward, we firmly believe that all data, including location data, should be verified by an anonymous third party to ensure both transparency and accuracy.

Click here to view Blis’ Brand Safety Policy.

In our next post, you’ll learn more about the sources of location data, and the questions you should ask to ensure you’re getting the best quality data.

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Which Data Source is Best?


Which Data Source is Best?

One of the biggest challenges marketers face as they embark on advanced location-based advertising is understanding location data sources. GPS is the gold standard for location data; it’s accurate down to five meters. That’s what every marketer hopes to achieve in terms of accuracy, but it’s not always easy. Not all location data is created equally, and some sources are more accurate than others.

With so many different data sources available, it can be hard to know which is the best to use in any given campaign – and to know if one or many should be used. To simplify things a bit, here’s a brief description of each of the three most-used data sources, along with the pros and cons of each:

SDK (software development kit)

An SDK is essentially a piece of code that sits inside an app. The developer who’s built the app includes code that tells the app to collect location data constantly and consistently. Apps like Facebook and Apple’s “Find My Friends” are great examples of apps that use and SDK track your location 24/7. Note that these apps must have express user permission to collect location information.

  • Pros: SDKs offer fantastic data collection. They can map a single device’s location throughout the day very accurately, which makes it easy for marketers to track patterns like daily trips to the gym or coffee shop.
  • Cons: The biggest disadvantage to SDK data is scale. Because tracking location data around the clock can be a drain on a mobile phone’s battery, many developers are hesitant to include this functionality. App developers know that an app that drains battery life will be uninstalled in short order, which means reduced revenue for them. That limits the number of apps that offer SDK data collection, which can be an obstacle to scaling.

Bid stream/ exchange data

This latitude/longitude (lat/long) data comes mostly from ads running on installed mobile apps. While it could potentially come from other publisher placements, it’s more likely to come from apps for this simple reason: publishers must obtain express permission to use location data. On apps, permission to use location data only needs to be granted once, and that permission is often good for the entire lifecycle of the app. However, on any mobile site, permission for location data must be given every time the user starts a new browser session. This can lead to an unpleasant user experience, and many publishers aren’t willing to risk that, so they simply don’t request that information unless there’s a specific reason – for example, if the site offers local traffic or weather reports.

  • Pros: The greatest advantage of bid stream data is that it can be easily scaled at the click of button.
  • Cons: The biggest drawback of data from the exchanges is the risk of poor quality. When location data is obtained through the bid stream, it passes through an available impression, and the lat/long is attached to that impression. Publishers must pass along the source of that impression, and those sources comprise these types, simply referred to as types One, Two and Three. Type One is GPS data, and that’s the gold standard. Types Two and Three are less accurate and may be user-input data that is assumed to reflect their location – but it isn’t always correct. If I’m checking the weather in Florida because I’m about to travel there from New York, the data might actually place me in Florida based on the information I’ve provided. (This is why Blis only uses Type One data.) Even Type One data has to be checked for accuracy, because not all publishers – whether deliberately or out of ignorance – provide correct source data. There are also concerns about fraud with bid stream data.

Beacon data

This data is collected with actual hardware, similar to Wi-Fi hotspots, or to the Bluetooth boxes that were installed a decade ago to beam offers to nearby shoppers. While less scalable than other data sources, they are still quite exciting. Beacons work with SDKs within apps, and deliver incredibly accurate location data.

  • Pros: The greatest advantage of beacon data is its accuracy. Marketers can see not only whether someone has been in a store, but how long they’ve spent in a particular aisle within that store. Today, it’s an excellent way for marketers to see if audiences are being driven into businesses. In the future, we may see CPG brands adding beacon-sensitive chips to particular products so they can collect data about which products end up in the shopping cart. Can you imagine the advances that would bring to attribution?
  • Cons: The biggest issues with beacons relate to scale. Beacons rely on SDKs and Bluetooth to collect data. Not only does a consumer need to have an app with the SDK running, they also need to have Bluetooth turned on. (Keep in mind, as more and more connected devices – including the newest iPhones and Air Pods – enter the market, a larger number of consumers will keep their Bluetooth on, so this will become less of an issue.) The other disadvantage is that the beacon is actually hardware, so it does need to be purchased and installed in every location.

There’s really no bad way to choose data. As we’ve illustrated, each source has its benefits and its challenges, but they all work together well to paint a picture of your audience. The best course is not to put all your money on one horse: use all three, and use as many sources as possible – but be prepared to check the accuracy of any and all the data you choose.

Next up in the series: What’s post-bid verification, and is it something you need to keep your campaigns safe from fraud?

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Putting the Spark into Brick-and-Mortar


Putting the Spark into Brick-and-Mortar

Shopping online has never been easier—and it’s having a huge impact on retail. Consumers around the country have embraced the convenience of being able to avoid visiting stores in person. Some publications have called these trends a “death spiral” for brick-and-mortar retailers. Meanwhile, shops across the U.S. are closing their doors.

But brick-and-mortar stores don’t need to die out; they just need to change.

In fact, a recent study shows that most consumers still prefer to shop in person—but only when they can expect a positive customer experience. Retailers who want to boost sales will need to discover new and creative ways to entice consumers to visit their brick-and-mortar stores—and keep them there long enough to make a purchase.

Driving Consumers in Store

Retailers can no longer sit around and wait for visitors if they want to keep their stores alive. Fortunately, sophisticated location data has made it possible for brands to analyze—and even predict—consumer behavior in order to drive footfall. With Blis Futures, retailers can identify ideal audiences and reach out to them at the most opportune moment in order to increase in-person visits and purchases.

But when it comes to getting customers to do more than click on an ad or make a purchase from the comfort of their living room sofas, not just any ad will do; advertisers will need to get more creative with their creatives: They’ll need to craft personalized ads that will incentivize consumers to get out of their sweats and make the journey to the mall.

A brand can attract new consumers by offering a first-time free-bees or welcome seasoned customers by sending them a loyalty discount. By giving customers a good reason to visit, they’ll breathe new life back into brick-and-mortar shopping.

Enhancing In-store Experiences

But once consumers pay the retailer a visit, how can advertisers make sure they won’t regret it?

High-quality, in-store experiences are not simply desirable, they’re essential for retailers hoping to keep in-store purchase sales up. Some forward-thinking brands are already experimenting with creative new ways to engage consumers in-store. Urban Outfitters, for example, has started using beacon technology to enhance their customers’ experiences. Using beacon-triggered content, the brand ran a campaign encouraging tech-savvy shoppers to take and post selfies while trying on merchandise.

Beacon technology holds many promises for innovative brands looking to revive the in-store shopping experience. That’s why Blis is also getting on board. In fact, earlier this year, we partnered with the world’s largest beacon network, combining our advanced location data with beacon technology. The partnership is already improving targeting and attribution across the U.S., and holds new promises for beacon-inspired in-store experiences.

Brands who want keep their stores buzzing with satisfied consumers will need to think outside-the-box when it comes to advertising. By harnessing the power of location-based insights and technology, they’ll be able to both bring consumers in for a visit and convince them to stick around a bit longer.

You won’t want to miss next week’s top tips; we’ll be guiding you through the key steps to turning a consumer into a shopper.

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Advancing Location Based Advertising: Moving beyond “Location 101”


Advancing Location Based Advertising: Moving beyond “Location 101”

This is the first post in our “Moving Beyond Location 101” series, which will focus on advances in location-based data and technology – as well next-level strategic thinking – for marketers new to the practice.

Location-based advertising has evolved rapidly over a short period of time. In fact, location advertising as we know it today has been around for less than four years, and it’s only getting better over time.

Location 101, the first wave of sophisticated location-based advertising, was facilitated by the growth of display and programmatic, which allowed marketers to employ location data at scale. At that stage, the focus was heavily skewed towards proximity advertising; on reaching consumers near a particular store. For example, if you were marketing a quick service restaurant like Denny’s, you could target lunchtime crowds near your stores with offers for a Grand Slam.

Taking Location Data to the Next Level

Whilst there’s still a lot of value for retailers in the use of location for proximity advertising, the industry has matured in many ways, and now the attention has turned to much more sophisticated applications for location data.

Primarily, marketers now use location to build historical audience & behaviour data profiles. By understanding where consumers go and what their habits are regarding certain types of locations, marketers have an unique opportunity to build a much more thorough picture of them in real life. For example, if someone goes to a school or daycare facility twice a day, five days a week, they’re likely a parent. This data can be supported and enhanced by online habits, like visiting BabyCenter or shopping at If that same person then goes to an office every day between those trips to school, we can further identify them as a working parent, building us a more complete picture of our audience.

To give a more detailed example of how this data can be applied to a campaign, let’s say you represent a sport beverage company like Powerade, and you’ve partnered with an NFL team for some promotional activity. You have the opportunity to target everyone in the MetLife Stadium at a game, but you can be fairly certain that only about half the attendees will match your profile (assume about half will be scarfing pizza and beer on the sofa for the next game.) By taking into consideration additional historical behaviour data, you can narrow your target audience down to, not only users seen in the stadium, but also those who have been to a gym three times the previous week, who have attended marathon events or century rides or have been to a sporting goods store.

By overlaying the two subsets of data – we have now reliably filtered out the couch potatoes in the crowd and left ourselves with a fit & active audience with an ongoing interest in NFL.

In reality there can be up to 40 data attributes associated with every programmatic impression, all of which can be used to overlay a new targeting parameter, although it is worth bearing in mind that not all of them are completely reliable or scalable. Location data has given marketers the opportunity to better refine and understand their audiences, ensuring that ads are reaching exactly the right consumers – and impressions aren’t wasted.

Once an audience is identified, location data can also be applied dynamically to creative, so that consumers will see ads relevant to them. For example, that Powerade audience might see ads that feature an offer for $1 off a sport beverage at their closest retailer, and a map to get to that store.

Indispensable data that’s also safe

One important thing marketers should know about historical location data is that publishers are required to obtain customer consent before collecting and passing location data for advertising purposes. When you as a consumer give an app permission to use your location data, they will then pass your GPS location data for advertising purposes. We at Blis use this data, the consent is given at a publisher level.

What we get are anonymized device IDs that we build up into statistically relevant segments. While these are incredibly accurate data sources, they contain absolutely no personally identifiable data (PII).

It’s incredible how far location has come in such a short time (pun intended). That we can leverage location data for far more than real-time location advertising is pretty exciting already, and it is still early days. With increased accuracy and advances in digital advertising overall, it’s even more exciting to think about what we’ll be able to accomplish in the very near future.

Next up in the series: Learn all about the sources of location data, and how to choose which is (or are) best for your campaign.

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How Do You Target Shoppers on the Street?


How Do You Target Shoppers on the Street?

Ever wonder how you can accurately target your shoppers on the street? Or what’s driving the convergence between the digital and physical world to enhance shopper’s in-store experiences? Or perhaps how location and content can be layered to deliver those ideal highly personalized ads? Wonder no more. Over the next couple weeks, we will be answering these questions in this blog series dedicated to shopper marketers which will serve as a platform for marketers to gain insights to equip them with the right information and tips.

Retailers can get a pretty good understanding of consumers once they’ve made it into the store. Through point-of-sales data, for instance, they can find out which items their shoppers seem to love, how many products consumers buy at once, and how loyal their customers really are. They can also make sure they’re reaching these shoppers by putting promotions in the right place.

But there’s a lot that happens before shoppers step through a retailer’s door. How can brands make sure they understand consumers well before the in-store visit? And how can this information help bring them inside?

Identify Your Perfect Match

First, advertisers will need to identify their ideal audiences, which is why Blis created a solution based on location and contextual data—and that starts long before shoppers reach the cash register. Brands can identify the right people by using location data, building comprehensive consumer profiles based on real-world behaviors, not just online activity.

For example, if a brand is interested in targeting parents with young children (a core demographic for CPGs), they should start by understanding their daily routines. For instance, location data can tell a brand that, Monday through Friday, a certain consumer drops off the kids at school, goes to the gym, then swings by the grocery store before going home. Similarly, a coffee brand can build their audience segment of “coffee drinkers” by classifying anyone who signs into Starbucks’ Wi-Fi as a potential customer.

Tell Them to Swing By

Once a retailer knows the kind of people they’d like to meet in person, how do they get them to come visit?

Blis’ proximity-based targeting tool enables advertisers to reach out to their ideal audiences when they are nearby. For instance, a food brand can send a useful reminder to a father to pick up something for dinner while he’s at the gym, knowing his next stop is usually the grocery store. A coffee shop, on the other hand, can use it to target their coffee-drinking audience when they come within a certain distance. The creative might indicate the nearest place to get a midday caffeine pick-me-up, enticing an individual to come in store.

Reaching out to consumers on the street will do more than serve as friendly suggestions for consumers on the move. Targeting relevant audiences when they are nearby will lead to greater in-store traffic and, ultimately, increased sales, as Blis did for Bang & Olufsen, using Proximity, Connect and Path products. Retailers who want to build strong relationships with consumers and boost their ROI can’t simply woo consumers in store. And they’ll need to start well before consumers step inside.

Tune in next week to find out the secrets to putting the spark back into brick and mortar shopping.

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Spatial Science


Spatial Science

To loosely paraphrase Ian Brown, it’s not just where you are, but also where you’re at.


Location & Place vs. Pattern & Interaction

Location and Place are important, but are arbitrary constructs without human interaction to create movement and bring purpose.

Historically your location, and the prevailing environmental conditions that came to bear upon it, would define your lifestyle. Indeed, this was the central tenet of Darwin’s seminal ‘On The Origin of The Species’ and held true throughout the Holocene.

However, since early humans began to cluster into ‘civilisations’, they have sought to shape the world around them – as opposed to the world shaping them.

Location therefore has become symbolic of lifestyle: a description of someone’s key locations – where they live, work or socialise – and the inferences these locations carry, can inform your understanding of them.

Dynamic Mapping

Maps, historically, owed as much to art and philosophy as they did to science. But now, with people moving quicker, further, and in greater numbers than ever, mapping techniques have evolved to demonstrate (and quantify) movement – and represent lifestyle – as much as they do place.

The continuing rise of the smartphone – in terms of uptake, and sophistication – allows us to place people amongst the co-ordinates, contours and concrete.

We can now also add Content to that list of knowns.

So, from a Marketer’s perspective the smartphone has given us a behavioural measurement tool that – uniquely – operates at an individual level… after all, maps have always placed the creator’s location at their epicentre.

Spatial Science in advertising

The use of ‘spatial science’, layered with an individual-level understanding of content preferences and consumption patterns (see Netflix and Spotify examples), now becomes an incredibly potent mix for Marketers.

It means we no longer have to rely on combining the twin best guesses of national, city-level or even postcode audiences with mass broadcast channels to deliver our ‘most efficient targeting’.

It means we no longer have to rely on the assumption that your postcode defines you any more than your age or gender do.

It means we no longer have to rely on stereotype and supposition.

Defining key terms

Location. This is most accurately defined – and most simply described – as latitude and longitude. At Blis we go to great lengths to ensure that the location data we accept meets strict quality controls.

Place. “The human and natural phenomena that give a location its unique character” (Gershmel, 2009). From our point of view, this could mean a retail environment, or whether we can link a device to residential or business wifi.

Spatial Pattern. This is more specifically the type and distribution of POI locations. For example, it’s common to see upmarket retailers cluster together, or fast food outlets operate in close proximity to cinemas or bowling alleys.

Spatial Interactions. Once we know which items exist in proximity to one another, we can start to understand how they impact one another. For geographers this might be how wind direction and mountain orientation affect rainfall, whilst for marketers it can help us understand how volume of competition in a ‘place’ – and the presence or absence of branded ads – impact purchase decisions.

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Blis included in The Leap 100 2017: the definitive list of fast-growth companies


Blis included in The Leap 100 2017: the definitive...

Today, Blis has announced it has made The Leap 100 2017 – a community of the most exciting, fast-growth companies in the UK – launched by London law firm Mishcon de Reya and business publication City A.M. and nominated in partnership with Seven Hills and The Entrepreneurs Network. To be considered for The Leap 100, companies needed to demonstrate a recent history of rapid revenue growth, as well as ambitious plans for the future.

For the third year running, The Leap 100 will support entrepreneurs as they experience the highs and lows of fast growth, bringing together founders and business leaders to share their ideas and experiences. Click here for the full 2017/18 list, which is neither ranked nor exhaustive.

Nick Davis, Head of Corporate at Mishcon de Reya, said: “Since launching The Leap 100 in 2015 we now have 300 fast growth businesses in The Leap community. Scaling-up is challenging and is usually a highly dramatic time for businesses. Over the course of this year, we will gather together these businesses to facilitate debate and discussion around the factors that impact them the most, especially in the period leading up to Brexit. It is always so interesting to assemble these businesses during this stage of their growth and to hear their unique insights.”

Christian May, Editor of City A.M., said of the list: “In the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the EU, the SME community continues to thrive. The Leap 100 is a very nimble selection of UK businesses – all flying in the face of the uncertainty that is Brexit to pursue rapid and sustainable growth. For this reason, The Leap 100 2017 is particularly inspirational, showcasing successful innovation, brand recognition and expansion into new markets and, of course, leadership and tenacity.”

View the full list of companies featured in The Leap 100 here.

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The moment for moment marketing has arrived


The moment for moment marketing has arrived

Consumers are more responsive to personalisation than ever before. From Amazon to Warby Parker, large retailers and niche brands alike are crafting one-of-a-kind retail experiences for consumers such as personalised purchase recommendations. At home, Netflix and Amazon Prime are tailoring programme suggestions to our specific interests.

These trends are transforming the advertising world. Once committed to crafting single narratives for the masses on prime-time TV or billboards, the ad industry now relies on data-driven techniques and insights to deliver customised messages for individual consumers, when and where it suits them best.

Connecting physical and digital spaces

The latest incarnation of this trend is moment marketing, which uses information about the consumer’s physical and online environment to deliver relevant messages at specific moments in real time. But moment marketing isn’t new: Standout cases include Oreo’s 2013 Super Bowl campaign “You can still dunk in the dark” or Arby’s tweet about Pharrell Williams’ hat at the 2014 Grammys.

Be insightful

But today, moment marketing is becoming even more sophisticated with the help of advanced insights and tools. For instance, we’ve brought the benefits of advanced location data to moment marketing by teaming up with TVTY, the industry’s leading moment marketing company. TVTY’s platform monitors and reacts to more offline triggers than any other platform, such as TV ads, weather conditions, sporting events, financial trends and other live-data feeds. When a trigger is activated, ads can target consumers in a given location within 200 milliseconds. With Blis, TVTY gains an extra contextual layer of location data, so brands can deliver personalised, location-based advertising at opportune moments.

The partnership is already helping brands enhance their campaigns. An FMCG brand, for instance, recently used TVTY’s social trend trigger to launch campaigns aiming to capture Brits’ spontaneous, carefree attitudes during summer. The brand targeted consumers when keywords associated with summer were trending; and thanks to Blis they optimised their targeting further, using advanced location data to deliver ads at the right time and place, increasing the performance of their campaigns.

In order to seize the benefits of this new partnership, the FMCG brand simply needed to indicate which audience it wanted to target; TVTY and Blis took care of the rest. Full integration between the two platforms allows marketers to launch location-based, moment marketing campaigns without any added complexity.

With the rise of moment marketing and personal advertising, tools like ours are not only convenient, but also necessary for success. If brands want to cut through the noise and reach out to their ideal audiences, they’ll need to meet consumers where they are with messages too unique to ignore.

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The Future of Mobile: The IAB Mobile Steering Group’s Viewpoint

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The Future of Mobile: The IAB Mobile Steering Group’s...

Mobile spend has rocketed in recent years in the UK, growing by 51.6% between H1 2015 and H1 2016 (IAB / PwC H1 Digital Adspend Study), there is no doubt that brands are getting excited about mobile, but with the rise of AI, VR, AR, chatbots, wearable tech and voice activated devices, what does the future of mobile look like?

Hear from the IAB Mobile Steering Group all about their favourite developments in the mobile space, what actually might work in the future, case studies of top future facing brands and get some top tips from the experts themselves.

View the full viewpoint including comments from Blis click here.

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US IAB launches location-based marketing playbook for retailers. Here’s our key takeaways

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US IAB launches location-based marketing playbook for retailers. Here’s...

To help retailers make the most of location data, the IAB Mobile Location Working Group in the US has put together a location-based marketing playbook. This new report provides guidelines and best practices ranging from how brands can use location data to improve marketing, boost their customer service and ultimately increase ROI.

Blis champions the content put forth, and as recent members of IAB US, we look forward to contributing to their content in the months to come. As a brief digest, we highlight a few of the key takeaways.

Driving home the fundamentals

The report emphasises the basic tenets of location-based marketing: Using past and present consumer data to provide predictive insights to understand consumers better, engage them with relevant, personalised messages and inform future campaign investment. When retailers use location data in this way, they’ll foster meaningful relationships with consumers and help move them further along their journey.

One powerful approach is proximity targeting: delivering messages to consumers based on their distance to a specific location, such as a store location or point of interest. To better understand this concept in action, try this case study on for size. We worked with Sony to increase consideration of Sony devices by targeting audiences seen in proximity to phone shops stocking Sony. We used retargeting to reach audiences once at home connected to Wi-Fi, where we could match up to four times the number of devices per household. As a result of the campaign, phone retailers carrying Sony devices saw a remarkable lift, averaging a 9.9% surge in in-store shoppers.

Get creative and improve attribution with beacons

Just last month, Blis integrated the world’s largest beacon network, merging our powerful location data with beacon technology to help brands improve targeting and attribution. The importance of beacon technology was emphasized in the playbook as application of this technology is key for retailers. How do retailers not just use data to target consumers, but to engage and connect with them? As a result, they’ll be rewarded with happy customers and greater campaign performance.

The IAB demonstrates that location data can also improve attribution. For example, retailers can use insights gained from beacons to analyze in-store visits and shopping patterns to better understand how mobile campaigns relate to sales. This is what we’re doing across the US in stores like CVS, Target, and Walgreens through our partnership with Unacast. Similarly, retailers can harness mobile location insights to track and analyze consumer behavior as they move in and out of stores. Brands can employ these insights to better engage consumers and improve the performance of their digital advertising campaigns. For instance, a retailer could analyze physical devices that pass OOH campaigns to find out how offline campaigns relate to in-store or online sales.

Word of warning

The IAB’s comprehensive guidelines extol the benefits of location-based mobile marketing to improve campaign performance, boost ROI, and fuel customer loyalty. But the latest industry report also urges caution for retailers looking to dive deeper into location-based marketing. Not all data providers are the same. They differ greatly in terms of reach, measurement metrics, and—most significantly—precision.

This is perhaps one of the most important things a retailer should consider when devising and launching their location-based advertising strategy. As we’ve previously discussed, data accuracy is the foundation of any successful location-powered ad campaign. Retailers will need to carefully evaluate their data providers to find the one that suits their needs best and is committed to accurate, high quality data. Blis has put accuracy at the forefront since the early 2000s. Not only does accuracy start with data gathering, but we also filter out imperfect or suspicious data to make sure we’re collecting and using the cleanest data possible. This now also includes data collection through beacons, thanks to our partnership with Unacast.

We believe the IAB’s latest report will help forge a positive path forward for the industry, providing brands, agencies, and tech partners alike with useful tips for seizing the benefits of location-based marketing. By following the IAB’s advice and using location data along the entire customer lifecycle, brands can make sure they are optimizing their campaigns and providing exceptional customer experiences.

For a full copy of the report, please click here.

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A life in the day of Rajesh Rajendran, Campaign Manager, Blis Asia


A life in the day of Rajesh Rajendran, Campaign...

The Blis team is growing across APAC. As pioneers of the power of location data, we’re on the lookout for people who can interpret deeper brand and consumer insights from our campaign data, and tell then these stories. This blog series digs into life at Blis, kicking off with a one-on-one with Campaign Manager and all around nice guy, Rajesh Rajendran.

It’s a busy week at Blis Singapore and the Ann Siang Street office is buzzing with activity. Desks are being shuffled around to accommodate a batch of joiners shadowing their new line managers. Hunkered down on their laptops, Team Ad Ops remains a focused, reserved bunch amidst the noise. There are campaigns to run, clients to satisfy, reports to bang out and these guys waste no time.

The daily grind

Rajesh peels himself from his desk and takes a precious hour off his day to talk through his role. Hailing from South India, he relocated to Singapore for Blis two years ago and loves the autonomy. As a Campaign Manager, he is responsible for all phases of an online campaign.

“I collaborate with the Sales Team the most,” he shares. “Sales bring in the projects, then Ops execute, manage and optimise. We report the results which typically share how their campaigns are performing.”

Sounds simple? Hardly. These campaigns are complex by nature, coupled with Blis’ high standards for accuracy, precision and scale. Raj is one of three Campaign Ops Managers in this office that serves as the regional hub for Asia. Between them, they are running 10-20 campaigns every day. Rajesh monitors up to 15 active client campaigns at any given day running at various stages, which means he’s very much in the asking line of all departments. Optimising the campaigns, that is, managing the various platform functions for them to perform better, takes up the biggest chunk of his day given the scale of work.

Comfort in complexity

Despite this, Rajesh appears unfazed by the demands of the job and seems absolutely comfortable with complexity. If you want to see his eyes light up like a kid at a candy store – talk spreadsheets, code and analytics. Not surprising for a guy who carved his niche by being the go-to Excel whiz.

“When I first started, I was initially interest in typing code…In my first company, which had almost two hundred people working on digital marketing, everyone was doing the same work…I applied my knowledge and ability to code into Excel and it became something that made me unique. There should be something unique to show, otherwise, we’d all be the same.”

As we nod our heads in agreement, he recounts a moment of career kismet:

“I was first interested in programming, software development and IT, but in 2006-2008 and it was difficult to find a job. So, I thought this (digital marketing) would be six months temporarily and I would try finding IT jobs in the meantime. But I got interested, so it went like this *points up* and it’s been eight years since.”

The future of adops

Why the stickiness? Why would anyone get into Ad Operations in the first place? Typically, this job attracts number-savvy problem solvers. Their analytical inclinations bode well for a satisfying career in digital marketing. Aside from the fact that digital ad spend is surging year on year in the SEA region, the role is a prime spot for constantly upgrading skills.

It takes patience, talent and mental tenacity to analyse data in its most granular form to manipulate parameters and reach campaign objectives. It’s safe to assume that numbers and data are like crack to these guys. However, moving along the trajectory, Ops people are encouraged to take on a more consultative role and be proactive with their clients.

“Clients are very different, especially across various countries and based on their moods, asking for information at any given time. Aside from managing campaigns, a lot of my work is also managing clients – but it’s fun. It’s a learning experience, at the same time it’s two-way. It takes a lot of patience. We can take it in a funny way or a negative way, but it’s important to have a good attitude about things,” shares Rajesh.

Sage advice from this accidental digital marketer who cites LinkedIn and Quora as his go-to sources for community discussion, industry updates and lots of humour. Aside from reading the latest updates, he entertains himself with random queries such as: “What are some things that airline pilots won’t tell you?” (A LOT.) or “Can I restrain a wolf with my bare hands?” (You can’t!)

The hour is almost up, and as Raj pauses in between questions to scan his phone for requests, we sense the day is just beginning for him. We leave him to it, and ask if he’s got any tips for aspiring marketers. With a sly smile, he laughs and says, “It’s a very easy job, very easy. Just start. When people start to do it, they’ll get an idea how to do it. If they have questions, I’m there to help them and let’s learn more together.”

Interested in joining Blis? See our website for current openings

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I’ve finally worked out what was on my mind from MWC


I’ve finally worked out what was on my mind...

It’s been a couple of weeks since MWC and having had the time to properly digest it I have to say I really enjoyed this years’ show. Bigger than ever, better organised than ever etc. But I do wish the on-site catering was better – perhaps I shall import a DMEXCO-style bratwurst stand to hall 8.1 next year.

What really impressed me though was the sheer range and depth of what is coming up in the entire mobile ecosystem. And getting out of Hall 8.1 was a revelation and it’s a good analogy for mobile advertising full stop.

We spend an inordinate amount of time navel-gazing to be honest. We tie ourselves up in knots on ever more arcane metrics, worry about viewability vendors SDK footprint, haggle with rich media vendors and sometimes it takes something like MWC to force us to get out of the trenches and look at what we are trying to achieve.

Which is to serve the most appropriate ad to the most appropriate person at the best possible time to change user behaviour. We can’t do any of this without data though given that advertising with the rise of programmatic has become a science not an art form. There is about to be an explosion in the amount of data consumers generate – IoT, drones, wearables, medtech, proptech – all about to turbo charge the data opportunities for adtech.

And whilst privacy and GDPR will (rightly) come into play here, the age-old data monetisation challenge remains: how to best monetise data assets to maximise the price and minimise the data leakage. Currently many companies, Blis included, do this via Private Exchanges – a great way to present curated data and media in a single package to a buyer. However, this feels like my first MWC – a version one product and I am looking forward to driving our roadmap forward to ingest many more data sources and exploring new ways to monetise via what our Private Exchange has effectively become – a vehicle. This isn’t about building faster horses any more. It’s about building a rocket ship.

My favourite stand this year was downstairs in Hall 8.0. Next year I hope the folks from “Drones n’ Bass” are back. I am sure they’ll have some interesting data and I look forward to adding this to my Private Exchange rocket.

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Micro-planning and Positive Disruption


Micro-planning and Positive Disruption

The tables have turned: The Hunted has become The Hunter.

The balance of power started to truly shift in the 1990s, but has accelerated to such an extent in the last decade that the industry is currently experiencing a Wile E Coyote moment*.

The Old Media Hegemony

In the 1960s there were 52m people in the UK, living in 17m homes, with about 15m TVs.

Let’s call that one TV per household, serving three people. There was a similar ratio for national daily press, with circulations of 18m a day.

In the 1970s, the TVs per household ratio stayed largely consistent, and national print circulations levelled off at 16m a day.

For media owners this represented a very favourable Content-to-Audience ratio. The odds of advertising in your programme, or your newspaper reaching an audience you broadly understood were good.

Macro-planning worked, and Channel 4 – launching in 1982 – seized the commercial broadcast zeitgeist as 98% of UK households owned a television set, serving a population of 58m.

TV’s Supernova

23m people watched Martin Bashir interview Princess Diana in 1995, and in 1996 24m people tuned in for an Only Fools & Horses Christmas special. Granted, these were both on BBC, but work as a fitting epitaph for the final burps of life-as-we-knew-it for mega-mass broadcast linear TV.

In the few years that followed, TV exploded into more than 300 channels, and domestic internet access came to about 10% of households.

The confluence of rapidly advancing technology becoming available to larger audiences due to decreasing prices blew the Old Media oligopoly out of the water.

There were no longer two commercial TV channels, plus a newspaper and a radio per household. Macro-planning could no longer work effectively on its own.


Instead of the 4-5 commercial channels they had had until now (a TV, a newspaper, a radio, cinema and OOH), consumers now have a personal device that can deliver multi-format, multi-publisher content whenever, and wherever they wanted.


Mobile internet is the greatest fragmentation the media industry has had to face. The cushty ratio of content-to-audience that media owners had enjoyed in the past had moved on from 10/1 to Millions/1.

In 1996 Blackberry launched. In 2007 iPhone launched. In 2008 Android launched.

In 2012, people had access to 2.3 connected devices each, but by 2016 this had grown to 3.4, with an increasing amount of content (from an increasing number of publishers) available.

In 2016 there were as many people with a 4G connection as there were with a TV.

The balance of power had absolutely shifted from Content Provider, to Content Consumer. The Hunted, had now become The Hunter. It’s now a case of The User finding the Content they want, rather than the Content available dictating what the User could find.

Macro – or Media – Planning as we persist in calling it, needs to be blended with Micro – or User-level – Planning.

The mass broadcast model works at a mass market level, but because the limited availability of platforms dictated mass consumption.

If the aim of (commercial) media is to ‘be where the audience is’, then the smartphone is the best way of guaranteeing this.

Through smartphone – the most personal, portable, multi-format, multi-publisher device – we can layer location context on top of content-consumption context.

Understanding behaviour at an individual level, from the bottom-up – and no longer the top-down – is where the power now lies.

*moving at such speed that by the time you realise you’ve been running on thin air it’s too late.

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We’re joining the Future Fifty program from Tech City UK!


We’re joining the Future Fifty program from Tech City...

We’re very excited to announce that we’ve been accepted onto Tech City UK’s Future Fifty program for the UK’s fastest growing, late stage tech companies. Thank you Tech City!!

Tech City UK has announced 26 new companies that are joining its Future Fifty program, which showcases and supports 50 of the country’s leading growth stage companies.

Future Fifty gives companies immediate access to a valuable peer network; expert-led classes and workshops designed to take their businesses to the next level; and a higher profile amongst the wider tech ecosystem. Future Fifty companies represent some of the country’s most exciting growth stage tech businesses, while changing the sectors that they operate in fundamentally.

“Being recognised by the Future Fifty program as one of the UK’s leading tech companies is a wonderful acknowledgment of the teamwork that goes into making Blis a successful, high growth, international business,” said Blis founder and CEO, Greg Isbister.

“The endorsement adds value to our profile and market positioning and will help us to solidify our business in key markets. It should also help us attract and provide employment opportunities for talented individuals,” he added.

All 26 companies have been identified by a highly experienced and respected judging panel made up of some of the most successful entrepreneurs and investors in UK tech. They believe these companies have the potential to scale rapidly and build significant businesses. The full list of Future Fifty companies is available here.

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “The UK has a world-renowned tech and digital sector and the value of the Future Fifty programme has been to support the fastest-growing, most pioneering companies in their final push to build mainstream businesses. The fact that so many Future Fifty companies are now household names is testimony that it works.”

“The innovation that we are seeing in all of these young firms is key to the Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy. We recognise that through tech and the digitisation of many aspects of UK business, we can create new opportunities across the city to expand our economy and make it more productive. The companies that join Future Fifty today will be the established businesses and employers of tomorrow.”

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Creating the perfect match between video and physical metrics.


Creating the perfect match between video and physical metrics.

Is it love you’re after? Or just a good time?

Video can consume you and bring you into a brand’s world. When used properly it can be an extremely powerful love potion for brands to engage with consumers. As one of the fastest- growing formats for mobile it’s only going to get bigger and better.

Picking the perfect date

Serving video advertising is a matter of time and space, you can find the right physical space but the digital environment may be lacking. Take a football stadium with poor 3G coverage, this is the perfect location to find an audience for a sports retailer, but serving a video here is a wasted effort (unless the match is an exceptionally dull one!).

Instead, we believe that this is the perfect physical space to identify your target audience – for example members of the crowd who are males, aged 18-44, and whose historical behaviour shows an interest in sport and fitness locations. Once this audience has been identified and collected, they can be retargeted at a time when they are most likely to be receptive to your video advertising.

Home is where the heart is

94 percent of people consume mobile video when at home compared to 51 percent of people who consumed on-the-go, this echoes our experience at Blis which suggests long-dwell time locations and good connectivity make for great advertising performance. Let’s be honest – we are not going to watch 30 second video when we’re on the go, we may see 8 seconds’ max, but if we’re in a more receptive state due to our environment we are more likely to view the entire video. Even a good TV show can’t be a distraction, with 64 percent of users watch mobile video whilst watching TV!

Taking it slow

The market is moving towards buying audiences rather than content, take ad blocking for example – consumers are calling for more relevant advertising and advertisers are responding with better targeting.

Video requires a different mindset to other formats, it evokes more emotional than other formats, it needs time (like all good relationships do) and you need to have a strong connection. Display is a much more snackable form of media – it’s made for people on the go and is a much more familiar format to audiences.

Putting a ring on it

When it comes to video, how can we measure engagement? A high completion rate, a high number of clicks? What about measuring consumer real-world behaviour, such as how viewing this video had an impact on store footfall.

The biggest impact we can provide as marketers is to bridge the gap between the digital and the physical worlds, and encourage audiences to view videos and then go to store. To do this we need to keep context front of mind – think long-dwell time locations, cross device opportunities and reliable connectivity. You want your audience to be in the right mindset to show brands some love with your advertising.

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How location-based advertising  can revitalize bricks and mortar shopping


How location-based advertising can revitalize bricks and mortar shopping

In today’s highly connected digital world, smartphone technology and mobile behaviors are rapidly revolutionizing everyday life for consumers in many ways. Mobile disruption is reinventing and reinvigorating virtually every ‘traditional’ market sector and this has led to significant shifts in terms of the way people work, communicate, consume media, entertain and, in particular, how they shop and purchase goods.

The question we want to answer today is: how does mobile location-powered advertising affect the modern retail paradigm?

The evolution of bricks and mortar retailing

In terms of online and mobile commerce, digital advertising and location-based technology are well-embedded. But what about traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailing? How can location-based technologies and digital advertising augment the traditional business of physical retail?

We’ve all read how online retailing has affected high street shopping and how retailers are closing hundreds of stores. As Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson recently wrote: “Retailers are bracing for a fresh wave of store closures” and “the industry is heading into 2017 with a glut of store space as shopping continues to shift online and foot traffic to malls declines, according to analysts.”

But physical retailing is by no means dead. In fact, we are seeing physical in-store retailing becoming an extension of the mobile experience, and vice versa. Our personal time is at a premium and we now tend to research purchases online using our mobile device, often guided by targeted advertising, or we buy online and then collect in store the same day.

According to ICSC’s “Thanksgiving/Black Friday Shopping Report the share of Americans who purchased online, picked up in store and then also made an additional in-store purchase during Thanksgiving weekend” was 64 percent. So there’s a beneficial additional effect in terms of impulse buying once people are in-store – a place where online retailing cannot really compete.

Online retailers get physical

What’s more, online retailers are moving into physical retail spaces. Amazon announced its first Amazon Go grocery store in Seattle late in 2016, where customers install the app, log in and shop. There’s no need for checkout and no lines to wait in.

There are a number of ways in which the physical retail experience is being enhanced and, in some respects, merging with the digital experience. Virtual and augmented reality apps, for example, are being harnessed by retailers in a number of ways. One example is Ikea using a customer’s smartphone to show what a room in their house would look like with a certain paint color or with a certain piece of furniture in it.

Location-based intelligence drives physical retail audience targeting

Location-based intelligence and the consumer insights it provides, is fast becoming a high value and powerful marketing tool for retailers, providing them with a wealth of data relating to location visits and foot traffic. Typical location-based intelligence includes how often customers visit retail outlets, and how this correlates with other marketing activities, such as specific promotions, nearby competition, OOH advertising, seasonality etc. This provides brands with greater insight into which tactics work and which don’t.

Marrying this data with user demographics and digital preferences, search history and other data enables companies to target consumer audiences in increasingly granular and contextually relevant ways than ever before. In fact, the use of location-based data itself is evolving fast, as technology innovation, machine-learning and AI-driven data mining and analysis techniques, make predicting consumer behavior a reality. Today, brands rely on historical (where consumers have been) and real-time data (where they currently are) for location-based advertising. But what if brands could see into the future? What if they could target consumers by predicting where they will go in the future?

Where are we going next?

Blis is set to announce a first for the mobile advertising market in early 2017 – an AI location-powered performance product which will use deep-learning algorithms to determine where an audience is going to go and drive footfall sales for physical retailers. Blis Futures will provide insights and technology powered by AI, enriching audience targeting, leveraging consumer location behavior and, importantly, guaranteeing footfall for advertisers. It will enable brands to access accurate predictions about consumer location behavior, married to demographic and digital behavioral markers, and target them accordingly. Introducing a new performance-based metric, Cost Per Footfall (CPF), Blis Futures leverages AI techniques to enrich audience targeting, consumer location behavior and, most importantly, guarantee footfall for advertisers.

Rise of the machines and operational automation

Digital programmatic advertising is a natural test bed for AI-driven technologies. The vast amounts of data available, including location data, that algorithms can analyse and learn from, drive rapid and effective results when these technologies are applied. Location data is especially suitable as humans tend to follow specific patterns of location behavior, which offers valuable insight into their habits within the physical environment.

We are in an innovative and rapidly developing era – at the intersection of cognitive technologies, mobility and the creation of consumer demand for retailers. Learning individual preferences and behaviors and catering to those in a timely, acceptable way, will create new benefits and opportunities for both the end user and the advertiser, as well as optimizing ad spend and eliminating wastage.

The model of paying based on actual results, such as Blis is pioneering with Futures, also helps retail advertisers control costs as they are not simply throwing a ton of money at something and seeing what sticks. This is “intelligent audience targeting” in its purest form.

Highly targeted, relevant and measurable communications with customers, based on personal preferences and real-world behavioral patterns, has enormous potential to create demand for businesses who can benefit from associative or impulse purchases.

Should more online retailers move into physical locations in cities and towns, mobile advertising technology will have an even greater role to play in driving traffic and extending the online experience into the physical one.

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Spotlight on Data Accuracy and Polygons:  A Conversation with Amy Fox


Spotlight on Data Accuracy and Polygons: A Conversation with...

Celebrated in The Drum as one of 50 women under 30 disrupting the digital space, Amy Fox has risen the ranks to become Blis’ global Head of Product and a pivotal part of our leadership team. We sat down with her to discuss the biggest trends and challenges facing the industry today.

1. What would you say is the biggest challenge in location-based marketing today?

Our industry’s biggest challenge is ensuring accuracy. We’ve all experienced the limits of geolocation: Our Uber driver can’t find us because our pin is off, or that little blue dot on Google Maps is leading us in the wrong direction.

But pinpointing exactly where consumers are and where they are going is paramount to what we do. It’s also key to delivering highly effective marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, not all location data provides the same level of precision, and a tiny error can make a huge difference.

Let’s say a fast-food restaurant located in JFK airport wants to target potential customers. If the data isn’t specifically identifying people within the airport’s boundaries, the brand may be targeting someone on the nearby highway instead of a man going through security.

2. How is Blis addressing this challenge?

Blis has put accuracy front and centre since we first began offering location-based targeting in the early 2000s. One thing we’ve learned is that accuracy starts with data gathering. In order to make sure we’re collecting the best data possible, we employ several methods, choosing the one that best suits the campaign’s goals.

In the JFK example, we would decide to draw a polygon around it. This means we’d manually draw lines around the perimeter of the airport on a map. In fact, our database has over 10 million polygons already mapped out, accumulated over the 5 years we’ve been using this methodology.

3. What is a polygon and how does it work?

Simply put, a polygon is a shape with at least three sides, but the ones we work with generally have a lot more. Drawing a polygon means outlining the shapes we see when we take a bird’s eye view of buildings and other locations. A store, stadium or airport can rarely be mapped out into perfect squares or circles, so drawing polygons enables us to ringfence highly specific locations.


4. Is drawing polygons always the best choice for data collection and targeting?

Not necessarily. Sometimes isolating an exact location with precise borders isn’t what’s needed for a specific campaign. If a coffee shop wants to target people nearby, for instance, we may prefer the point and radius system. This means we identify a location based on an address, drop a pin in the centre and draw a circle around it.

This technique is very scalable: If the coffee shop is a chain, we can use it to target people within 25 meters of any of its locations. And unlike drawing polygons, this approach can be executed almost immediately by simply uploading information about the shop locations and setting the campaign parameters. We can also adjust campaigns easily by increasing or decreasing the radius.

The polygon approach, on the other hand, can provide more detailed or precise information about location, such as indicating whether an individual is inside or outside a building. For example, it can enable a fast-food restaurant to distinguish between a woman who’s inside a luxurious, 5-star hotel having lunch or a father walking down the high street with his kids.

5. As long as you collect data correctly and target according to a campaign’s specific goals, your location data will be accurate?

I wish it were that easy! But in addition to collecting data effectively, we also filter out suspicious or imperfect data—sometimes culling up to 85% of all data collected daily. We make accuracy a priority at every stage of a marketing campaign, and that goes well beyond collection.

5. How do you see this challenge—and its solutions—developing in the future?

Whether it’s drawing polygons or using the radius method, the strategies and technology Blis use to collect data and target consumers are really advanced. I can’t imagine it changing significantly, though I’m sure we’ll see it evolve to become more refined with time.

In the future, the industry is going to have to improve its criteria for data accuracy—and we aim to set the highest industry standards. Not only are our methods for data gathering best-in-class, but our data scientists are doing really impressive work to filter out faulty data. Vendors and marketers shouldn’t settle for anything less than high-quality, accurate data. The result will be increased revenues for brands and better ad experiences for consumers.

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Mobile Through the Screen of Possibility: From Ideation to Execution: IAB Mobile Panel Discussion


Mobile Through the Screen of Possibility: From Ideation to...

I had the privilege of moderating a great panel discussion at Google’s new HQ in Singapore in November. Talking with the senior execs from Wundeman, MediaCom, Medialets and OMD at the IAB’s Mobile Through the Screen of Possibility event, provided delegates, largely from media agencies, with wonderful insights into how smart businesses are blending the skills sets of creativity and data insight to drive successful mobile marketing campaigns at scale.

We’re spending nearly half of our media time on mobile — and in fact, when you break it down, women are spending just over half their media time on smartphones. And with Millennials, the devices are taking up nearly two-thirds of their attention.

Put very simply, if you’re wondering when the mobile-first world starts, the answer is that it already has. If you want to be more precise it happened for different media owners at different stages, but generally, first half of 2016 is when smartphone attention and the accompanying advertising budget overtook desktop and tablet.

Fortunately, my panelists – all mobile veterans – were not the type who only wanted to pat the industry on the back. The content of the conversation we had highlighted both the opportunities, as well as the challenges, facing the digital advertising industry when it comes to harnessing mobile. Indeed, with lots of brands now investing in mobile advertising, the sector is growing fast across Asia, but it’s not quite as easy as it may look.

Perhaps the primary theme to emerge from the discussion was the importance of investing more budget in mobile creative. The panel felt the situation was improving – slowly – but there were signs that brands were starting to think more about the unique qualities of mobility in order to make the consumer experience on mobile better.

Traditionally, the largest part of marketing budgets have been ringfenced for bigger screens, but improving relevance to consumers through better creative formats on mobile will drive more engagement. Thankfully for Blis, more location data is playing its part here. As we harness more machine-learning tools to make sense of bigger location data sets, we can start to make ads much more relevant to the physical places that consumers are inhabiting in both real-time and the future.

Consumers are also becoming increasingly comfortable with sharing their location data. Why? Because sharing location increases the value and usefulness we get out of using our favourite apps. Consumers are far more likely to keep and use an app that uses location data to send them personalised and relevant brand messages than they are to keep an app that every now and then gives me a deal for a store located on the other end of town. Which would you prefer?

The key is the value we receive from giving out our data; if we get something in return for sharing information, chances are we won’t even think twice about giving these apps access. The panel hoped that publishers will step up a level in making this value exchange better and more transparent for consumers in 2017.

The discussion moved on to look at how best we use data and technology to identify how mobile ads are performing, in other words viewability metrics and attribution. How are technological developments and innovation helping the industry to achieve this goal? Well that conversation was so deep that it deserves a blog post all of its own! And given that Blis has just announced a partnership on viewability with MOAT, we will come back to this very shortly.

85 percent of mobile advertising budgets are spent with two big companies. The panel felt there are big commercial risks in only focusing on these platforms and it is key for brands to understand the benefits of looking beyond so-called “walled gardens”.

Retaining control of data, being able to communicate with all end-users, not just uses if these two big services, and the continued innovation that companies like Blis are working on every day. Some of this new innovation will become clear in Q1 as Blis works towards Futures.

And then there were just screens. After years of digital marketers talking about television, desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphones, we have come to a turning point. Are we not now at a stage of not needing to talk about different channels? Isn’t a television, just a really big screen and a smartphone a small one, with desktop and tablets in between?

There are obvious creative considerations to adjust a campaign to be appropriate for different size screens, but that’s all we’re talking about now — differently sized screens. There is no desktop, mobile, laptop, television and tablet — just differently sized windows through which consumers are peering into their digital worlds.

Evidently this claim struck a chord with attendees because when one of the panellists, when asked what was the one thing about mobile in the industry that he’d change in 2017, he replied “getting rid of mobile departments in agencies”! In other words, stop silo’ing mobile and make it cross-department.

Mobility is not about formatting video for a small screen. Mobility is about understanding where users are, where they are going and what they want to accomplish. Mobile is all about devices but mobility is all about peoples’ lives.

So the panel all agreed that the real opportunity is in contextual relevancy. We have a huge amount of data today but this is both a blessing and a curse. It can lead to assumptions about consumers that are based only on cookie data – sets of behaviours that we attribute personalities and characteristic from. But it doesn’t provide the “why” – the understanding of what is motivating consumers.

Technology underpins everything that the digital ad industry does. It’s how we generate an understanding of people and how we understand and optimise the effectiveness of client campaigns. The panel strongly felt that the industry must tie all of this together with a simple goal: make technology deliver a competitive advantage to clients every day.

Is mobile marketing at last set to fulfil its true potential? If marketers and developers can make small-screen advertising relevant and engaging, then the answer is a resounding YES!

Mobile is driving real outcomes and results for advertisers. What we’re seeing now and certainly into next year is that the mobile device is going to be the hub for more and more aspects of our lives. We’re at an exciting point in the evolution of mobile – where real, sophisticated campaigns are resonating positively with consumers at scale. The next 18 months will provide smart, fast-moving marketers with an opportunity to engage with, and take advantage of the mobile ecosystem, while their competition plays catch-up.

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Everyone’s a winner with Blis as the Golden Shaker 2016 Finalists celebrate in style!


Everyone’s a winner with Blis as the Golden Shaker...

And so it ends… After months of planning, weeks of perfecting and a few hours of competitive mixing, the Blis Golden Shaker 2016 Singapore competition wrapped up with a very worthy winner –Vizeum!

Last month, Team Vizeum were crowned champions at the Blis Golden Shaker Singapore Grand Final and annual party. The team blew the judges away with a solid performance that included multi-coloured wigs, showmanship, social activism, and a great-tasting Scotch-based concoction with a fruity twist, ‘The Rule Breaker’.

We wanted to share the last piece of content from the night – our Grand Final video – which really captures the highlights from what was a fantastic event.

(Almost) everyone wins with Blis and the Golden Shaker wasn’t the only prize up for grabs at the Grand Final. Teams Carat, MediaCom, Xaxis and APD all went home with something for the trophy case – some more prestigious than others!

Other teams taking part included Mindshare, MEC and OMG, which was last year’s winner.

A final big thanks goes out to all the agency teams who competed this year. You were all amazing participants and each brought something unique and special to your performances. Also Blis would like to express our gratitude to the judges and partners this year, including Charlotte McEleny from The Drum, Scott Mitchell from Capital Springboard and Zdenek Kastanek from Proof & Company. A huge thank you also to Melody Harper and Hutch Hutchinson for hosting our teams at The Proof Flat and their two bartenders, Payman Bahmani and Peter Chua, who helped the teams create their recipes. Last but not least, thanks to our host and MC Rishi Budhrani, who did a fantastic job entertaining everyone on the big night.

We wish everyone a very merry Christmas and prosperous 2017 and look forward to seeing you next year at Golden Shakers across the globe!

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A Marketer’s Guide to Holiday Shopping


A Marketer’s Guide to Holiday Shopping

A lot of things change during the holiday season: The air gets crisper, the days get shorter, and our waists get bigger. And with the kids off from school and lots of holiday prep to do, our daily routines and shopping habits begin shifting, too.

While these changes may make it difficult for advertisers to stick with the same strategies that have worked all year round, they also present brands with new opportunities. As shoppers start heading to the high streets and attending holiday parties, paying attention to location will be key. In order to reach the right audience at the right time, brands will have to catch on to consumers’ holiday habits, watching where they go and what they do this time of year.

We’ve got three tips for brands looking to cash in on sales this holiday season.

1. Listen to Mum.

Our research shows that when it comes to the holidays, mums still take on most of the work, from buying gifts to preparing the Christmas roast. While this isn’t good news for gender equality, it’s good to know for brands wanting to reach those in charge of the holiday spending.

And where can you find the queen of the Christmas castle during the holidays? Our research suggests she’ll likely be on her phone. In the UK, for instance, 92% of mums spend over 2 hours a day on their mobile devices.

Looking at smartphone behaviour, Blis can identify mums and find the perfect moment to target them with relevant ads. For instance, a brand can send her an ad about the Christmas sale that’s going on at a children’s clothing store right after she’s dropped the little one off at nursery.

2. Watch the snow fall footfall.

The internet has made holiday shopping a lot easier, but when are consumers browsing products online and when are they visiting the stores? Location data gives brands valuable insight into consumer shopping habits—especially on the biggest shopping days of the year.

If you’re looking to launch an online marketing campaign, for instance, the day before Black Friday is a good time to go for it. This is when you’re likely to see the highest rates of online activity and the greatest number of impressions. On Black Friday, however, brands are likely to experience lower impressions and clicks rates, as Santa’s helpers tend to shop in stores instead of online.

At the other end of the shopping spectrum is Cyber Monday, when we see Black Friday’s trends in reverse. This year on November 28th, you can expect some of your company’s highest CTRs, as last year saw traffic increase 60% compared to a normal day.

3. Don’t miss a single holiday party.

Traditionally, British marketers might only have paid attention to Boxing Day, while Spanish brands would have focused on the arrival of the Three Kings on the 6th of January. But in a global world, consumers are celebrating more than just the biggest holidays within their country’s borders.

While American Thanksgiving is not yet of global importance, Black Friday sure is. With so many American retailers offering discounts abroad, European brands will have to join the party if they want to compete.

But that’s not the only date advertisers should be thinking about. In fact, Black Friday often overshadows the latest addition to the holiday sale days: Manic Monday. Though many brands might not know about this date, which falls one week after Cyber Monday, research suggests brands should add it to their marketing calendars. Previous years have shown that on Manic Monday, online traffic tends to increase by 24%.

With all these new options for holiday marketing campaigns, retailers must not forget about the more traditional sale days. Though Black Friday has surpassed Boxing Day as the biggest online shopping day of the year, retailers can still expect their website traffic to increase by 21% on December 26th.

‘Tis the Season for Brands to Be Jolly

With the increasing popularity of online shopping and the advent of special days for sales, holiday shopping habits have become more complex. But these changing circumstances have also given brands new opportunities to reach their target audiences.

With insights based on location data, marketers no longer have to guess where consumers are going—or not going—this holiday season. And by using this valuable information to transform their marketing campaigns, brands can make the most of this most wonderful time of the year.

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Infographic: Advertising at Halloween


Infographic: Advertising at Halloween

Halloween is drawing closer and the Supermarkets are filling their shelves with creepy costumes, spooky sweets and ghoulish gifts!

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They say impressions count, but does this tell the whole story in digital advertising?


They say impressions count, but does this tell the...

When I was growing up my mother always used to annoyingly tell me how much impressions count when you meet someone. She usually said this while raising an eyebrow at the particular ‘look’ I was going for fashion-wise at the time, or registering her disapproval of my latest piercing.

Was she right? Well, I‘ll admit she could be occasionally. But recently, social media and search advertising Goliaths, Facebook and Google, have both been in the news for all their own impressions. Or more accurately, for erroneously reporting video and display ad impression metrics for clients.

It was embarrassing for Facebook to admit to inflating average video watch time on its platform, but its turned out to not be a big enough issue for publishers and advertisers to reconsider or pull back their investments on the platform. However, The Media Ratings Council (MRC), which provides an accreditation service for advertisers to verify ad impressions, has actually suspended Google DoubleClick for Publishers over “mobile web Served Impressions and DFP Active View desktop viewability related statistics” until non-compliance issues are resolved. The problem emerged because the MRC reformed its guidelines on how digital media companies should count mobile web and app impressions.

An impressive industry?

Served impressions have been the baseline metric for both pricing and measuring digital advertising for more than two decades now. It has shaped digital media in a big way, but the history of ever-decreasing CPMs for display ads meant that publishers had to achieve massive scale to deliver enough impressions to make money from digital. Of course this led to creating clickbait, slideshows, un-skippable pre-roll video ads, and other content that was hard to avoid and usually poor quality.

Consequently, as impressions continued to lose value advertisers began asking questions about the quality and efficacy of served impressions: How many real, live humans were on the other side of all those impressions being served? And were those ads being served to them on-screen long enough for them to take notice?

Attention and engagement are even scarcer on mobile devices, given that the bulk of mobile time is spent using apps and two companies—Facebook and Google—hold eight of the top spots among the top 15 smartphone apps in the US, per June 2016 comScore Mobile Metrix data.

Stand to attention

Facebook is dominating the digital ad market right now. Some estimates have 85 percent of new digital ad spending going to Facebook and Google. However, with great power comes great expectations and the changes made by Facebook can have seismic effects on how marketers operate.

By miscounting average watch time, Facebook essentially said that people aren’t watching as much video as it originally claimed. For Facebook, which has made video a top priority of its business going forward, this is bad. For advertisers that might have made high-level budgeting and spending decisions based on the average total watch time metric, it’s alarming.

Multiple agencies including Blis’ client, GroupM, have said the problem hasn’t affected pricing or audience deliveries for campaigns on Facebook. GroupM described it “careless and unfortunate”. But this is primarily because agencies don’t use average watch time to buy video on Facebook; instead, they use performance metrics like impressions, 10-second views and completed views — none of which were affected by Facebook’s error. GroupM also has used Moat to verify its Facebook video campaigns and in a statement said it’s “had a clear sense of the short duration times since implementing” Moat.

Blis is working with partners to guarantee minimum viewability standards for our clients. In June we announced a partnership with leading global analytics company Moat to provide ad viewability and attention metrics within Prime – our Private Market Place – to provide clients with assurance that their ads are being viewed correctly in the right places, at the right times and by human eyes.

“As consumers increasingly move towards mobile-first, location data is a powerful asset for marketers seeking the right time to reach their audiences,” said Jonah Goodhart, CEO and co-founder of Moat. “We are excited to work with Blis to provide even more insight into how those audiences pay attention to ads online.”

Blis is deepening its relationships with third party, independent ad verification companies, like Moat and others, in order to provide guidance and assurance to our clients on viewability and impression metrics across the millions of publisher sites and apps we advertise on.

The problem with walled gardens

Facebook is mostly a closed network and because of its size and influence, it has largely been able to ignore calls by the publishing and advertising communities to accept third-party measurement and verification within their walled gardens. Publishers and advertisers want universal third-party measurement, which they could not only trust but also use to compare performance across multiple platforms. How likely that is to happen is ultimately up to Facebook, Google and the other walled gardens in digital media. Time will tell but I seriously wouldn’t hold your breath on this.

Incremental innovation

We will be returning to this issue over the coming weeks and months. Blis believe it’s important to look at other ways of measuring campaign effectiveness, for example footfall uplift analysis, and attention and brand engagement studies. We regard the challenges around viewability as an opportunity to “out-innovate” Google and Facebook and our competitors.

One of the ways we are doing this is through Brand-lift studies which are the main way publishers and tech companies like Blis, can seek to prove the value and effectiveness of time- and engagement-based currencies to agencies and brands. Consequently, we will be releasing a White Paper within the next few weeks in association with our partner On Device Research which looks at the effectiveness of mobile campaigns in driving footfall, and how using location in advertising helps build brands.

So stay tuned, but if you have any questions in the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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A trip to DMEXCO


A trip to DMEXCO

Dmexco was last month and Blis VP of Monetisation, Dan Wilson blogged about his experiences here. Now Harry Lingard, Agency Group Head, Blis Asia, who attended the event for the first time, shares his experience with a rather nice infographic made by himself!

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Africa calling!


Africa calling!

By nature I am an enthusiastic and optimistic person, which I imagine is much to the constant annoyance of those that work with me at Blis.

Therefore over the last few years I have tried very hard to contain my excitement and to let EMEA announcements come and go without making much of a fuss or banging a loud drum.

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Why does mobile-originated data matter most in advertising?


Why does mobile-originated data matter most in advertising?

According to eMarketer, within the next year, U.S. mobile ad spend will reach $50.84 billion – about twice as much as the total U.S. desktop ad spend. Meanwhile, mobile ad spending in the U.K. continues to show strong growth and is expected to rise 35 percent this year to £4.58 billion ($7 billion.

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Can we please stop talking about Header Bidding?


Can we please stop talking about Header Bidding?

The Blis team has just come back from our annual pilgrimage to Dmexco, and this year was bigger and better than ever!

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A day in the life of a Campaign Manager


A day in the life of a Campaign Manager

Ashleigh Cole

Campaign Manager, Ad Operations

How long have you been at Blis?

2 years, in fact two years exactly tomorrow!

What are your responsibilities?

My responsibilities are to traffic the campaigns, manage them when they are live and to optimise them to ensure they perform well. During the campaign I speak with the client to let them know any new information and provide updates about the campaign performance. Overall I need to know all about our inventory and the RTB platform inside and out.

Give us a brief breakdown of what an average day looks like for you


My average day is to come in, go through my emails – answer any I can, flag any jobs that I need to do during the day and add them to my trusty to do list on my desk.

Usually about 10 o’clock I’ll have my first cup of tea of the day with breakfast, then I’ll spend the morning updating campaigns and answering any requests that sales have.

Lunchtime varies depending on the day, could be grabbing a quick sandwich and bringing it back to the office or if we feel adventurous we’ll go out for lunch or to the pub – Friday is usually pub lunch day which consists of lots of chicken wings – yum!

After lunch it is time for cup of tea number two and potentially followed by cup of tea number three depending on how much time I have/stress levels. My afternoons vary from meetings to catch up with sales to tying a nice little ribbon around campaigns in the form of an end of campaign analysis.

I usually try to leave on time where I can as I like keeping a good work-life balance.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I like looking at the trends and insights in the market by analysing the data that comes through the platform. It’s interesting to build these insights into stories for the clients so they can use the data we have to their benefit when planning future campaigns.

What is your most memorable moment at Blis so far?

On my first day, Harry one of our group heads threw a Lemsip box at my head while trying to pass it to a fellow colleague, hilarious but a bit of a strange welcome to the office. Also the Blis Christmas parties are always brilliant, one particular one had mulled wine jelly which was amazing!

What are your hobbies outside work?

I am a thespian – I’m part of Woodhouse Players in Leytonstone and helping to direct the pantomime this year which is really fun. I also sing, me and my boyfriend have a band where we perform covers – he plays guitar and I wail along with him.

Name three celebrities dead or alive you’d like to have dinner with?

Stephen Fry – because he’s just so smart and so funny and really interesting.

Emma Thompson – I love her movies and I think she’d be top bants.

Benedict Cumberbatch – because he’s a sexy beast.

Does this sound like the right role for you? Click here to see if you could be our next Campaign Manager!

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What UK retailers need to know about overseas programmatic campaigns


What UK retailers need to know about overseas programmatic...


Many brands may imagine that programmatic ad networks differ from region to region, and would be concerned about how running overseas campaigns with real-time bidding (RTB) networks would work effectively for them.

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What’s driving mobile advertising growth in APAC?


What’s driving mobile advertising growth in APAC?


Our man in the East, Andrew Darling, shares his initial thoughts having just “arrived off the boat”!

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Creating a winning Olympic campaign: five tips to ensure yours goes the distance


Creating a winning Olympic campaign: five tips to ensure...


With the Olympics kicking off this week, all eyes are on Rio as the world’s best athletes compete for prized medals and international acclaim. For marketers across the globe, the games present a key opportunity to connect with consumers, while simultaneously building momentum for the event itself. Following London 2012, for example, major brands such as John Lewis, BT and Adidas revealed that their Olympic campaigns drove significant sales’ increases. Four years on, and marketers are hoping to experience a similar level of success. So how can brands win gold for this year’s campaigns? Here are our top tips:

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De-coupling data from media buying – the pros and cons


De-coupling data from media buying – the pros and...


Thanks to the rise of programmatically traded media, Agency Trading Desks (ATD) are able to access a lot of mobile data to help buy more transparently for their clients. But they need to take extra care with location data – it’s different.

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Insights and future trends from IAB’s Mobile Location Seminar


Insights and future trends from IAB’s Mobile Location Seminar


Last week, we joined forces with other industry leaders such as Trinity Mirror and Mindshare to discuss what sets mobile apart from other forms of media, and the significance of location data within it.

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The times, they are a changin’


The times, they are a changin’


Come gather ’round people where ever you roam / And admit that the waters around you have grown / And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone. Great song.

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An Overview of Mobile Location


An Overview of Mobile Location

The IAB UK launched its new video all about mobile location advertising. As a member of the Mobile Steering Group and Mobile Location Advisory sub-committee, Andrew Darling, Director of Communications at Blis, contributed towards the video content as and shared his thoughts on the mobile location advertising space on the IAB UK blog.

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Nine tips to help designers truly embrace the mobile creative opportunity


Nine tips to help designers truly embrace the mobile...


Back at the end of June, I attended the IAB UK’s Device Conference at London’s British Museum.

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What does Apple’s iAD shutdown mean for mobile advertising?


What does Apple’s iAD shutdown mean for mobile advertising?

Six years after launching its advertising platform, Apple has phased out its in-house iAd sales team in favour of a new publisher-driven system and the company’s direct involvement in the selling and creation of iAd units is ending.

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IAB UK Mobile Steering Group Viewpoint June 2016: Creativity in Mobile

White Paper

IAB UK Mobile Steering Group Viewpoint June 2016: Creativity...

Hear the IAB Mobile Steering Group’s thoughts on the exciting developments in mobile creativity, how data is used to power creativity, what some of the challenges are, and what the future of mobile creativity looks like…

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Happy birthday ma’am from Blis down under


Happy birthday ma’am from Blis down under

In honour of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday last week, the Blis ANZ team held a themed party for clients

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Blis Festival of Media Golden Shaker winners crowned in Rome


Blis Festival of Media Golden Shaker winners crowned in...

Blis’ Golden Shaker competitions represent class, sophistication and an appreciation for the finer things in life.

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Airbnb: Where did you come from? Where did you go?


Airbnb: Where did you come from? Where did you...


The Blis Team were enjoying La Dolce Vita in the Eternal City last week at Festival of Media Global.

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Blis wins big at The Drum MOMA Awards 2016


Blis wins big at The Drum MOMA Awards 2016

While some of the Blis team are in Rome this week at the Festival of Media Global, other team members were busy picking up a clutch of awards and commendations at The Drum’s MOMA Awards ceremony in London!

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The Blis Golden Shaker Competition


The Blis Golden Shaker Competition

Join us on Wednesday 18th May at 5:00pm on the Terrace of the Rome Cavalieri Hotel.

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Is the EU looking at the wrong part of Google with its Android anti-trust investigation?


Is the EU looking at the wrong part of...

EU _Google_Android_Dan_Wilson

So this week the EU has done what it has threatened to do for a while – kicking off an investigation into the Android OS and its perceived market dominance, and how that is impacting consumers.

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Blis recognised by The Drum’s Digital Trading, MOMAs and Marketing Awards


Blis recognised by The Drum’s Digital Trading, MOMAs and...


With the successful closure of our $25m round of VC funding last week, as well as the launch of the new Blis brand, it’s been an incredibly busy couple of weeks here at Blis HQ.

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Stream Asia 2016 – Delivering a great first impression


Stream Asia 2016 – Delivering a great first impression


Have you ever tried putting together a rock band from scratch – in one day – and then having it perform to 300 people – and deliver?

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The Path to Enlightenment: Listening and learning with the industry’s brightest and best at Stream Asia 2016


The Path to Enlightenment: Listening and learning with the...

Stream Asia 2016 WPP

After recently joining Blis, I was given the opportunity that most of my colleagues would kill for.

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Why Location Is a Game-Changer in Digital Advertising


Why Location Is a Game-Changer in Digital Advertising

Harry Dewhirst, President at Blis, discusses his data technology business, how they use location behaviour to empower advertisers and where he sees growth.

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Mobile Steering Group Viewpoint March 2016: Mobile Programmatic

White Paper

Mobile Steering Group Viewpoint March 2016: Mobile Programmatic

The IABs Mobile Steering Group has today, 16th March 2016, released its first of a series of viewpoints – with this one centred around the mobile programmatic opportunity.

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Mobile World Congress 2016 Wrap Report


Mobile World Congress 2016 Wrap Report

Blis in association with M&M Global is proud to bring you the Mobile World Congress 2016 Wrap Report.

The report covers the most vital trends, insights, analysis and interviews from Mobile World Congress 2016, Fira Barcelona.

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Mobile Ad-Blocking in the Network? Six reasons it’s a non-starter for MNOs


Mobile Ad-Blocking in the Network? Six reasons it’s a...


Mobile operator Three announced just before MWC in Barcelona that it plans to deploy ad-blocking technology network-wide, meaning users can opt-in to block ads on mobile Web and in-app, using technology from Israeli company Shine, which Three is an investor in.

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Consumers demand more relevancy and creativity from mobile advertising


Consumers demand more relevancy and creativity from mobile advertising

Consumers demand more relevancy and creativity from mobile advertising

A new study exploring the mobile behaviours and preferences of consumers in the UK, France and Germany signals a warning and highlights the urgent need for advertisers to deliver more creative and relevant mobile advertising, or risk losing consumer engagement entirely.

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Contextual advertising only really works once you factor in user location


Contextual advertising only really works once you factor in...

Contextual advertising only really works once you factor in user location

Just as the birth of TV advertising facilitated the entry of brands into the living room, smartphones now provide a conduit for those same brands to literally get into the hands of billions of consumers all over the world.

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Infographic: Blis 2015 business snapshot


Infographic: Blis 2015 business snapshot

Blis, the market leader in mobile location technology, experienced an incredible year in 2015, with successful expansion into four new markets: Dubai, Germany, Hong Kong and New Zealand, while aggressive growth in existing regions doubled the company’s headcount to over 100.

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Location-based advertising and mobile programmatic buying on the rise, but lack of knowledge remains amongst marketers.


Location-based advertising and mobile programmatic buying on the rise,...

Location based advertising

An IAB UK study released last week revealed that 50 percent of marketers surveyed use programmatic for buying smartphone inventory. And location-based advertising is regarded by 66 percent of respondents as the most exciting mobile opportunity.

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A Day in the lives of: Adrian Kwek, Agency Group Head, Blis Singapore, and Franny Geng, Campaign Manager, Blis Hong Kong Asia


A Day in the lives of: Adrian Kwek, Agency...

So you want to know what it’s like to work at a location advertising company? It’s not all crunching numbers and client meetings, we also have fun! Well, after the work is done, that is.

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Infographic: London Christmas shopper insights


Infographic: London Christmas shopper insights

Our Christmas Shopper Insights infographic shows how smart advertisers are targeting their campaigns around London’s biggest shopping destinations.

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What makes a mobile ad effective? And why getting it right matters


What makes a mobile ad effective? And why getting...

Mobile advertising is currently a very ‘in-demand’ medium. As consumers, we are connected 24/7, taking our devices wherever we go. We have become lost without them.

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Five tips for a successful Christmas digital ad campaign


Five tips for a successful Christmas digital ad campaign

The festive season is upon us and now is the time for brands to make the most of their customers’ holiday budgets through advertising. Here at Blis we’ve been running campaigns for our clients for over ten years, so we know a thing or two about creating a successful Christmas campaign. Here we share with you our five top tips to ensure your campaign thrives this festive season.

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Blis was ranked highest placed adtech provider in The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 2015.


Blis was ranked highest placed adtech provider in The...

Global location data technology company Blis has ranked as the highest placed adtech provider at number 54 in The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100, which lists the 100 UK tech companies showing the fastest revenue growth.

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Infographic: The influence of location on cross-screen advertising


Infographic: The influence of location on cross-screen advertising

We recently published a report which, for the first time, explores in detail the role location plays in how we engage with cross-device advertising. The report provides new and unique insights into the growing importance of location-aware ads.

We have summarised the findings of the report in the infographic below. Here we highlight the impact locations has on the way we use our devices, and in turn how we consume content and respond to online advertising.

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Why going back in time really takes advertisers to the future


Why going back in time really takes advertisers to...

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, you’ll have noticed that the date 21 October 2015 tripped off the calendar last Wednesday, the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown travelled to from 1989 in Back to the Future 2.

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Five creative tips for better digital banner ad design


Five creative tips for better digital banner ad design

Big things come in small packages – by which, of course we mean banner ads. They may only be small, but as the most widely used ad format, banner ads are right at the sharp end of pretty much any advertising campaign. So you better get them right!

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Planning a location-aware campaign? Here are four essential tips for success


Planning a location-aware campaign? Here are four essential tips...

Location-aware advertising campaigns are fast becoming the preferred method of engagement with audiences, however for some advertisers the transition from direct-response and display campaigns can bring its difficulties.

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To block or not to ad block – a Hobson’s choice?


To block or not to ad block – a...

Ad blockers have been around for many years. They’ve been a thorn in the side of ad tech since the birth of the technology but recent weeks have seen an explosion of digital emotions prompted by Apple’s announcement that it has included a new web blocking tool called Ad Block, straight into the Safari browser on iOS9. Take up of iOS9 is expected to be swift and total, so any advertiser buying web ads, and any publisher who is reliant upon web ads for part or all of their revenue, will be concerned, worried, and probably very frustrated. But how will ad blockers affect the wider digital advertising landscape?

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Five things planners need to do to truly optimise mobile ad spend and return on investment


Five things planners need to do to truly optimise...

Stories relating to the mobile advertising market are becoming increasingly prevalent within industry news; mobile has become ‘hot’ property.

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Blis harnesses the power of location data enabling brands to connect the physical and the digital worlds


Blis harnesses the power of location data enabling brands...

At Blis, we harness the power of location data to enable clients to deliver ads to the right audiences in the exact locations, at the perfect time. Location data, once refined, is integral to the understanding, contextualising, segmentation and prediction of real-world customer behaviour. Most digital advertising is based on the sites you visit and the searches you make, however, once you add in the places you go, the ROI soars.

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Why the mobile platform is a must for marketers – three key benefits to consider


Why the mobile platform is a must for marketers...

There’s no question that smartphones have become a daily part of modern life. Mobile platforms are certainly a big deal for advertisers and marketers to take advantage of.

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Blis creates a winning recipe with the Golden Shaker competition


Blis creates a winning recipe with the Golden Shaker...

The inaugural Blis Golden Shaker winner has now been crowned!

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Three digital advertising trends brands can’t ignore:  An Ad Operations’ view


Three digital advertising trends brands can’t ignore: An Ad...

As well as managing demand-side platforms and crunching numbers, ad operations teams have seen our fair share of good and bad media campaigns.

A few digital advertising trends have materialised over the past year, and it’s time both brands and media agencies started planning their campaigns with these considerations in mind.

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Location Insights – Data’s Perfect Ally


Location Insights – Data’s Perfect Ally

Data is the word on the lips of every Australian advertiser. At least everybody’s stopped with the ‘Big’ prefix!

I’ve recently attended several meetings with data as the central discussion point. Our clients and partners have been asking how they can enrich their own data with our location expertise and how they can feed data back into their platforms to better find their audience.

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The three most important digital advertising and programmatic trends in Australia


The three most important digital advertising and programmatic trends...

Digital advertising and programmatic continues its upward trajectory in Australia, and brands understand they can’t afford to miss out, says Nick Ballard, Blis’ Australia and New Zealand regional MD. The challenge is making sense of the technicalities, the data and the rapidly evolving technology.

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UK leads the way as half of all media spend goes digital in 2015, but what are the implications for advertisers on mobile?


UK leads the way as half of all media...

This year the UK will become the first country in the world where half of all advertising spend goes on digital media, according to eMarketer’s recent findings. That’s an incredible achievement and highlights the UK’s place as one of the world’s leading and most dynamic digital economies.

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That was the week (that was AdWeek 2015)


That was the week (that was AdWeek 2015)

Last week saw the brightest minds in the advertising and media industry flock to the London to hear the latest trends and talking points in the market. With key industry pioneers from Rory Sutherland to Dave Trott, this would prove to be a key week in media and communications.

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Examining the role of location in the cross-screen user journey


Examining the role of location in the cross-screen user...

Blis, in association with the IAB UK, is hosting an industry seminar and panel discussion looking at the role of location in the cross-screen user journey.

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Why location is so important in mobile advertising


Why location is so important in mobile advertising

The digital advertising landscape had rapidly changed over the last few years. Not long ago, targeting in digital had its limitations – it was based on content behaviour, search and cookie data and that’s all there was. Today, that data environment is booming with vast and varied data sets providing all sorts of deeper consumer audience insight and contextual user information.

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Optimising advertising campaign success: An ad operations view


Optimising advertising campaign success: An ad operations view

Successful media campaigns are driven by strong, engaging creative that provide for the best user experience, but reaching the right target audiences paves the way for success. Advertising operations teams play an important role in this process by setting up campaigns, targeting the right people and optimising ongoing campaigns through the analysis of real-time results.

Having worked on several successful campaigns, I’ve come to realise the following campaign parameters help to ensure the best results.

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Marketers should be tapping into native phone features to create engaging rich media ads


Marketers should be tapping into native phone features to...

To develop the best mobile ads, it’s time to take off our marketer caps, put on our consumer caps and pay attention to our native phone features, says Regina Goh, Managing Director, Blis Asia

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Mobile Ads: Three issues shaping the future of mobile advertising


Mobile Ads: Three issues shaping the future of mobile...

Brand marketers today aren’t afraid to make a strong push for mobile investment, and many are making the bold first steps to experiment with different mobile campaigns. As the importance of mobile ads increases, a number of key issues will arise, impacting how brands continue to approach this young and growing platform. Let’s take a look.

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Mobile Advertising: thinking about the consumer


Mobile Advertising: thinking about the consumer

Mobile advertising, a hotly contested topic since 2011, has now found its firm place among marketers in Singapore and Southeast Asia – with the discussion shifting from “what is mobile?” and “how can we use it?” to finally, “how much should we spend on it?” At the end of the day, it’s all about reaching your most relevant audience.

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Self-serve DSPs offer marketers intelligence and efficiency


Self-serve DSPs offer marketers intelligence and efficiency

With digital advertising budgets skyrocketing, marketers are seeking more intelligence and closer participation in managing programmatic campaigns for themselves to ensure the best ROI. Self-serve DSPs allow advertisers to not only access publisher inventory, but also target and track their campaign using a desktop interface. The convenience, ease-of-use and power of a self-serve DSP mean almost anyone with an internet connection can launch a digital ad campaign.

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Media veteran Regina Goh joins Blis


Media veteran Regina Goh joins Blis

Blis is thrilled to welcome media veteran Regina Goh on board as Managing Director, Asia!

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A Brave New World of programmatic advertising


A Brave New World of programmatic advertising

There can be little doubt that mobile-first screens have become the preferred choice for consumers and that consequently, mobile advertising has reached an important inflexion point as we enter 2015.

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Early Surge in Singapore Christmas Shopping while London Shoppers Prefer to wait


Early Surge in Singapore Christmas Shopping while London Shoppers...

Christmas shopping in Singapore peaked in November, a month before the holiday. The fourth weekend of November accounted for the highest shopper footfall amongst top shopping areas in Singapore, according to footfall and online behavioural analysis by BlisMedia. Meanwhile in London, peak shopping times come later with an increase in shopper traffic of 259 percent from November to December, as consumers prepare for the festive season.

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Conquering global markets – data is at the very heart of Blis’ offering


Conquering global markets – data is at the very...

The decision to launch adtech operations in a new market is a combination of research, preparation, and experience. Data is at the heart of everything.

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Blis – big data, location targeting and what we actually do


Blis – big data, location targeting and what we...

Digital marketing has become a science. Marketing is often seen as a creative process, filled with the wittiest ads or the most engaging campaigns.

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Advertisers need audience scale as well as accurate location data for their campaigns to be successful


Advertisers need audience scale as well as accurate location...

A lot of the “new kids on the block” in the mobile advertising world have recently been talking about the issue of location data “inaccuracy”

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