Could there be a “Nielsen of the real world”? Location analytics company Placed is betting that there could be.
Placed, which boasts that it has an opt-in media panel of over 100,000 Americans, is coming up with some fairly startling insights about American consumer behavior.
Placed uses panel members’ cell phones to track their physical locations. (In exchange for allowing Placed to track them, users get coupons and gift cards.) Gathering and crunching this data would be impossible in any era prior to the modern one, but now Placed can determine that, for example, households that watch the Disney Channel are more likely to visit toy stores than other households.
Perhaps that example is not terribly surprising, but the Placed Ratings To Retail study also found that ESPN watchers are more likely to visit GM dealerships and that owners of Sprint phones like reality TV more than other phone owners.
This can be critical intel for advertisers, says Placed senior marketing manager Sarah Radwanick. “I think we’re just kind of getting to [this] really exciting point. I think the future is so vast and there are so many uses for this data. Companies can find out very interesting insights about their customers and also see what’s really working.”
One tactic that may be working: product placement. Placed’s study looked at three advertisers that have featured prominent product placements on the television show “Modern Family”: Toyota, Target and Apple. “Modern Family” viewers were 26 percent more likely to visit Toyota and Target than an average person, and were 24 percent more likely to visit the Apple Store than average.
Placed doesn’t know for sure whether the product placements affected buyer behavior, or whether — for some reason — the type of consumer that enjoys “Modern Family” just happens to be the type of consumer who enjoys shopping at Target. But the correlations were among the strongest studied by Placed.
“Online metrics have been so powerful for building new online advertising models and online businesses,” says Radwanick. “For the offline world, it hasn’t been there. The technology hasn’t been there. But now with smartphones — things people always have with them — and big data manipulation, it’s making offline measurement possible.”