Blog skyhook logo Why Advertisers and Adtech May be Missing the Mark with Location: Centroids

Oct 15, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Why Advertisers and Adtech May be Missing the Mark with Location: Centroids

Posted by Skyhook

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Advertisers are delivering personalized and relevant experiences because they can use location to know exactly where their consumers are, right? Not as often as you might think. To understand why they may not be able to pay off “the right message to the right person in the right place at the right time” you need to know a little about location. In a nutshell, the best location is both precise and accurate and everything else is fuzzy.  

Marketers dream about knowing precisely where their audience is and when because they want to win new customers, save their own customers before they fall into the hands of a competitor and they want their messages to flow directly into their lives so they find them useful. But their ability is often limited by the location provided by publishers to the adtech platform. The degree of relevance of the message is directly related to the precision and accuracy, but the location they are using has a larger margin of error than they realize. This means that the specificity is gone and the user’s movement is nebulous.

Getting the right place

Today, nearly 80% of location data gives us a higher-level view because it’s captured using an IP address. Remember, we’re trying to get the right message to the right person in the right place at the right time. If place is fuzzy,  it’s the digital equivalent of dropping leaflets from a plane into that area.

advertisers missing the mark Skyhook

What about the other 16% of location that is captured? On-device location enables advertisers to know the accurate and precise location of the user’s device. This means you can have finer level detail of the place such as venue category, name and address. Think of hitting the bullseye with a dart instead of blowing up the target with a shotgun. Now place is clear.

The right person

What about person? We don’t know who the specific person is, but we do have a history of precise location tied to a device. This opens up the ability to categorize behavior at a granular level. Add venue level context to each precise location and you have a story of the device behavior called a Persona.

Annonymous skyhook segments Persona

For instance, if a user visits coffee shops frequently, he is a “Coffee Lover”. Knowing this level of detail about a user’s behavior without actually knowing the identity of the person is a goldmine for advertisers who are looking to deliver relevant content to their audiences.


Trying to do this with IP location and not knowing the precise venues people visit makes building personas difficult on a granular level. Here’s an example of what can happen if you treat IP location like on-device location: A series of IP addresses in New York City evaluate to the latitude and longitude of a Japanese restaurant called Kanoyama. It’s a mistake to assume that devices are in the restaurant because of all the other venues in the area that they might be in. The probability of them being in Kanoyama is low.

But how do you know if the location provided is precise and accurate or fuzzy? Skyhook has a series of advanced algorithms we use to determine if location is fit for a purpose. In other words, if you see a Skyhook Persona, you know it’s based on good location.  

Bottom Line


Publishers, to get better location you need your users to turn location services on so you have device level data. Advertisers, talk to us about how to get Skyhook Personas so you can 

finally pay off the right message to the right person in the right place at the right time. Use good location to enhance your campaigns and create place based experiences. With on-device location, you can take Personas and targeting to a granular level and save yourselves from playing the guessing game.