Case Study: How IPG Mediabrands re-invented its location analytics

IPG Mediabrands has flipped its location analytics services around out-of-home and mobile advertising to the visual using location intelligence tools

"If a picture paints a thousand words, then location visualisation paints a thousand insights."

That's how Pitney Bowes director of sales and strategy for software and data solutions, Ravi Nath, sees modern technology helping location intelligence leap out of the spreadsheet and onto a virtual canvas.

Location analytics has historically been about trawling through rows of data in spreadsheets, an inefficient process requiring oodles of time to sift in order to find valuable insights. But, like so many marketing issues, technology is changing the way it's done, making it quicker, more responsive and more intelligent.

In this case, it's a mapping tool feeding customer, sales, product, marketing data and third-party data such as demographic, consumer spending, hourly traffic flows, nearby points of interest to give context to data insights. 
And it was this new way of picturing impact that appealed to IPG Mediabrands, which recently tapped Pitney Bowes' location intelligence tool re-invent its location analytics for out-of-home advertising.

Locating fresh intelligence

Location intelligence, according to the industry research, is quickly becoming a strategic asset. Media planning practices are shifting in line with increasing spend on out-of-home and mobile advertising, and visualisation is vital to cut through the complexity of finding relevant insights.

"In media agencies worldwide, we're highly dependent on spreadsheets and rows of data," head of IPG Consulting for IPG Mediabrands, Clement Tsang, explained to CMO . "When you're trying to communicate to a marketer who needs to manage hundreds of channels and tactics, that does not make an efficient process."

So IPG brought in Pitney Bowes' location tool to hone its location intelligence services. Pitney Bowes is a global customer engagement business, offering shipping services, media and communications analytics and location intelligence services.

Tsang said the media agency wanted a solution both dynamic and flexible. Another important element is Pitney's built-in data sets, which allow IPG to use a third-party data source if there's no customer data available. In this instance, the Web-based tool was coupled with data to give insights about the types of customers IPG was trying to identify near outdoor advertising space.

The solution has changed the way IPG approached this segment of location insights. "We can create value-based customer segments and measure audiences," Tsang said.

Yet while rollout and adoption of the technology was only about three months, it's necessitated a shift internally in approach, as well as a revitalised communications strategy to clients.

"The analytics team that were the end users, and our technology team constructing the governance behind it, were familiar with it," Tsang said. "It was the education behind transforming our team to adapt to and adopt the insights generated from the platform that was key: The people challenge of conveying that to client directors who then convey that to clients.

"It's a seismic shift in mindset in how out-of-home is traditionally purchased to this new customer-first approach. This conversation started to change the perception around who are media brands and can we stitch media performance to sales. We're using the Pitney tool to look at a month-on-month view on the impact of foot traffic, customer sales and then overlaying media activity at an impression level to a statistical error of one."

Another strength is its dynamic ability and quick turnaround. "It's the fastest way to generate a visual insight in a pitch situation," Tsang continued.

In terms of raw numbers, the tactical solution paid for itself within its first 12 months with two new clients.

Broader mobile play

The process of change is an ongoing one, and IPG continues to see a need to alter the structure of teams. One thing Tsang is keen to do is combine relevant groups responsible for media buying and analytics within organisations.

"The fundamental challenge we continue to face is that with transformation there should be one experience team that should include channel, sales and marketing, of which media is a subset," he said.

IPG is also looking to iterate the platform and extend partners involved to include more location intelligence and other tools around mobile tracking. Scaling adoption is also a priority, and ensuring training teams have a platform view.

"In today's agency world, they have six tools and if they're working in a digital team, another six tools. That's where the complexity of actionable insights," Tsang said. 

"Pitney allowed us to take a traditional data set, quickly visualise it, and then support it with offline population data sets. The mobile and digital piece is fuelling us to go real-time and to draw mobile programmatic basis point and to enrich that further. Originally it was about out-of-home, but now it's becoming much more mobile focused because of the data sets possible."

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