Sense Networks Releases New Predictive Mobile Ad Targeting Services

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ADOTAS – Mobile location data/services provider Sense Networks announced today a pair of new offerings designed to integrate location, behavioral and demographic data into mobile advertising, combining mobile’s ability to target users based on geolocation with sets of data that are more akin to the sophisticated targeting allowed on a home-bound computer. First is AdMatch, which is designed to match mobile users to offers from local merchants, based on the users’ behavior and predicted location; and second is AudienceSense, which is meant to help publishers create audience segments based on predictive location and behavior, using their own mobile data, without having to share that data with other publishers.

The idea, according to a statement from Sense Networks, is that the ubiquity of mobile usage means publishers should start thinking of mobile as a central part of their advertising strategies, not as an afterthought. That means, of course, the ads they deliver should perform well, and in order to perform well, they should be more pertinent to the user. In a phone conversation earlier today, Sense Networks vice president of product management Kevin Hannan explained that the company’s new offerings are unlike typical location-based advertising services because the technology “goes beyond place. It’s not just, ‘I’m at Penn Station.’ It’s ‘I’m at Penn Station and I’m a business traveler.” The process of AdMatch, he elaborated, involves taking a mobile device’s geolocation data points, extracting context based on things like the area’s demographics and what stores are nearby, and targeting ads to users based on that data. AudienceSense, he said, works with data about user behavior received from a mobile app’s developer. And, Hannan said, the data is fully anonymized. “We extract intelligence [and] abstract it,” he said. And, he added, “We’re not getting data from carriers. We’re getting it from the open ecosystem.”

Hannan went on to say that these services spring from several years of work in location analytics, going back to 2006. “We don’t have a big store of data,” he pointed out, but he attested to the sophistication of the analytics.

While smartphones have become more or less standard and tablet adoption is rising fast, Hannan pointed out the targeting capacities in mobile haven’t caught up until now. “If you’re getting a location point that doesn’t have a huge level of accuracy,” he said, “you know [the user] might’ve been in one of 10 stores, or none of them.” But with the data sources they’ve incorporated, he said Sense Networks has seen, in some cases, quadruple both click-throughs and revenue for the campaigns it’s run, compared to networks on which those campaigns had run previously.

“On the developer side, we tend to work with mid-sized developers that are looking for better CPMs than their current networks,” Hannan said. Sense Networks is also working with, he said, daily deals sites and local merchants: “How do you get someone to make a purchase on their phone?,” he mused. This is especially pertinent in light of studies showing people are using their mobiles more and more to browse — but they’re not so much making purchases via mobile. This is, as Hannan sees it, where Sense Networks comes in, whether in driving m-commerce specifically or in allowing local merchants to target the ads to shoppers that will drive foot traffic into their stores. “We’ve solved the first problem of getting the right message to the right user,” he said, “but the industry needs to turn that click into a purchase.”

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