More than half of location-targeted adspend 'wasted'

Inaccurate or negligent use of location data has resulted in up to 65% of mis-targeted digital spending, survey finds.

Location data: study suggests inaccurate data or negligent use of it means spend is 'mis-targeted'
Location data: study suggests inaccurate data or negligent use of it means spend is 'mis-targeted'

Nearly two-thirds of spend on location-targeted advertising is being wasted, a survey of half-a-billion locations across the UK and the US has found. 

Location Sciences, a global location intelligence company, said potentially millions of ad dollars are being wasted because of poor-quality data and mis-targeted location impressions.

The company’s The State of Location Advertising report for the first half of 2019 also found that for every $100,000 (£81,900) spent on location advertising, 29% of this was delivering impressions outside the targeted area.

Inaccurate or negligent use of location data has resulted in up to 65% of mis-targeted digital spending, the report added.

Meanwhile, up to 36% of spend was possibly being wasted due to location signals that were too poor in quality to deliver the targeting requirements.

The research also found:

  • On average, 29% of impressions currently miss the target specified by the client
  • 36% of the top GPS-enabled apps were found to display location fraud
  • A 40% increase in location signal quality and a 10% increase in accuracy could be realised by enhancing transparency into data

A lack of transparency and maturity in the location-based ads marketplace is hampering progress, Group M’s MEC (now Wavemaker) warned after publishing its own research in 2017.

Advertisers that want to target people on the high street, for example, required targeting down to two or three metres, but were at risk of their money being wasted, according to MEC’s study. This is because some companies offering targeting were less than 50% accurate at even 25 metres. 

Location Sciences measures 500 million digital location-targeted impressions delivered in the UK and the US from January to June 2019.

Mark Slade, chief executive of Location Sciences, said: "While some location data suppliers are doing an excellent job – in our analysis, 40% of suppliers showed nearly 100% accuracy in location and 35% near 100% accuracy in signal quality – there is still a large percentage of suppliers who are significantly underperforming. 

"For location to be used effectively in digital advertising, brands should ensure that they understand exactly what they have purchased and how this is being deployed. This will help to drive significant improvements in accuracy and campaign performance."