Defining The Real World Graph 

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The Real-World Graph maps out the connection between people and places, giving insight into how people move and behave in the real world – the places they go to, where they shop and travel, and how often they do so. The mapping of this journey is crucial information: It can power anything requiring an understanding of human behavior in the physical world, from measuring how many people visit a store as the result of seeing an ad on their mobile phone, to determining how best to organize cities based on pedestrian patterns. The Real-World Graph empowers industries of all kinds to make better business decisions using location.

The Real-World Graph looks at how people move around in the physical world and, in particular, how they respond to or interact with the people, places and objects around them. According to Jeff White, founder and CEO of consumer intelligence platform Gravy Analytics, “This information is paramount because it gives us insight into consumers’ priorities, their values and the activities they enjoy.” Given how precious free time is to most of us, the way that we choose to spend it says a lot about what we consider to be important. Knowing this information is invaluable because, as White points out, the “places where we spend the most time are most likely the ones where we spend a disproportionate amount of our disposable income.”

For marketers, understanding how people and places relate to one another is a gold mine, because it facilitates the creation of ads that offer more relevant content and are better targeted to the audience. But location data can do more than augment consumer profiles; it can provide general consumer insights that inform the way companies engage with consumers at all touchpoints. For instance, proximity targeting, or the targeting of a consumer in real-time as they pass by a certain location, is powerful in certain situations. For example, a person might receive an ad for a coat as they walk past a clothing store on a cold night, or a coupon for premium tequila as they enter a liquor store. Yet, there are other scenarios where proximity targeting is a less effective strategy.

This is where the Real-World Graph comes in: The graph is a tool that can be used to underpin everything from hypothetical behavioral studies to very tactical business decisions. In other words, it can surface best practices for location campaigns and provide predictive consumer insights that inform high-level strategy.

Why is this important? Because that’s where the future is heading. According to White, “Within five years, we’ll see location data used to inform all aspects of the customer experience – from customer acquisition through engagement and customer care. Location-based insights will be incorporated in CRM systems as companies move beyond ads and audiences.”

The only way, however, for these insights to be valuable is if they are backed by the highest-quality data. The Real-World Graph is made up of data collected from apps, Wi-Fi networks, app aggregators, and hardware (including beacons) – basically, from all data sources that tie users to a specific location. Because we collect so much data from so many different places, there are naturally sources that are better than others at performing certain functions, but one of the goals of the Real-World Graph is to inform users on how best to use various types of data.

The data itself comes from the fragmented proximity and location space, including apps, location companies, beacon companies and proximity vendors. The main source of data for consumer location is the mobile phone; after all, smartphones are our most constant companions. Beacons and sensors are emerging as important sources of proximity and location data, especially as a steadily increasing number of retailers opt to install them in their brick-and-mortar stores.

The Real-World Graph integrates proximity, location, transaction, demographic and behavioral data, which means that the graph has applications across and beyond marketing, and implications for industries ranging from finance and city planning, to retail and hospitality. With the addition of demographic information, purchase history, social activity and other consumer data, the graph will become even more powerful. For every business that requires location data to stay relevant, the Real-World Graph offers a solution.

By Thomas Walle, CEO and co-founder of Unacast

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