Industry Index
December 5, 2017
Power to Proximity: How Real World Data is Transforming Brand Strategy

The internet has upended the relationship between consumer and retailer. Once upon a time, consumers relied on companies including Sears, Macy’s, and RadioShack to provide them with certain goods. The Sears Catalogue famously stood as one-stop-shop for all kinds of products, selling clothing, cars, appliances, and even build-your-own-home kits. Today Amazon performs the same function, however there is a major difference: Amazon doesn’t simply sell goods. Amazon gathers an enormous amount of data on its customers’ shopping and browsing habits. This data has many uses, among them enabling Amazon to deliver customer-specific, influential product recommendations.

To compete, retail outlets must provide the same level of personalization and recommendation if they intend to compete with mighty Amazon. How? Through the use of proximity and location data.

Knowing the kind of items your customers like to buy, as well as the websites they visit, is enormously valuable when it comes to retargeting. However, understanding how people behave on the internet is only a small piece of the puzzle. ComScore’s report, 2017 US Cross-Platform Future Focus, notes that mobile now accounts for 69% of digital media time, while desktop accounts for less than 1/3 of total digital media time. Understanding how people behave in the real world (i.e., with omnipresent mobile devices) allows marketers to get a more holistic view of their audiences. Proximity Data is the currency that fuels that understanding.

Brands are already using proximity and location data to inform their marketing strategy. Shinola, a lifestyle brand, has been using geolocation data to determine the best ad placement. They teamed up with PlaceIQ to collect a variety of data, including foot traffic analysis, tactic visitation, creative performance, and audience analytics. This data revealed revenue-impacting insights. At ProxSummit, Jacques Panis, Shinola’s President, offered, “One thing we found was that our media targeted post-exposure to our out-of-home placements had the highest visitation in-store. That shows us the importance of having multiple exposures to consumers in a media buy to get them to take action.”

More importantly, Panis added, “We also learned more about the lifestyle and purchase behavior of the people who were most likely to go in-store, which helps us zero-in on these consumers for future campaigns.” These insights helped fuel a successful geolocation campaign, in which the company used location data to segment consumer audiences in six cities, developing creative for each segment that spoke to each audience directly.  Panis said that going forward, “These types of geolocation campaigns will definitely play an important role as we open stores in new markets.” A testament to the power of proximity and geolocation, indeed.

Shinola offers just one example of the many ways in which proximity and location data can create value for retailers, brands, and agency marketers alike.

Highest Value Uses of Proximity & Location Data

  • Understanding behavior and shopping preferences of individual consumers
  • Personalizing consumer touchpoints
  • Activating of in-store experiences including:
    • Customers receiving a coupon upon entering a store
    • Product recommendations based on shopping and browsing history
  • Gauging effectiveness of advertisements to drive in-store attribution

Location and proximity data are the building blocks that will empower brands and brand marketers to create better ways to connect with consumers – adding sophistication to offline marketing strategies, helping to close the online/offline gap.



Chris Cunningham is the Chief Revenue Officer at Unacast, the world largest network of beacon and proximity data, building the Real World Graph and connecting the physical world to the digital — for online retargeting and attribution. Cunningham is an active tech startup investor and founder of C2 Ventures, a privately-held investment firm with a focus on consumer, data, and financial techs that provides seed capital to early stage digital media companies. Cunningham has been named one of the "Most Important People in Mobile Advertising" by Business Insider, as well as being an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, finalist two years in a row. He's been featured speaker at International CES, Cannes Lions, IAB's Annual Leadership Meeting, dmexco, and f.ounders. Cunningham is a contributor to CNBS and Bloomberg TV via on-screen appearances, and is former co-chair of the IAB Social Media committee and Native Advertising Task Force.

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