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Mobile Marketing Association Dives Into the Use and Challenges of Location Data

Mobile continues to be a growing focus for marketers, and one of the most unique things about mobile is the ability to associate location attributes. For this reason, Factual, along with our co-sponsors, worked with the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) to conduct research to better understand how marketers are using location data.

The study found that marketer and agencies see mobile devices as the perfect conduit to move consumers down the path to conversion in real-time and real-place. Approximately, 96% of brands and 90% of agencies saw location data as critical or important. This finding was prevalent among companies who considered themselves “mobile mature,” meaning mobile is fully integrated into their business, not just their marketing strategy. On an individual campaign level, about 50% of respondents, both marketers and agencies, used location-based targeting in more than half of their campaigns.
With consumers spending more and more time on mobile devices, programmatic mobile advertising is a crucial component of every smart advertiser’s media mix.

In addition to the enthusiasm about location data, survey respondent also noted three key challenges they face when incorporating location data into their marketing strategy. Marketers expressed concerns about data quality, transparency and the ability to differentiate between location providers. Let’s explore these challenges and a few of the ways Factual is working to address these issues to help support the growth of location data in mobile advertising.

Data Quality:
The study found 40% of marketers and 34% of agencies showed concern about data quality. Through our own primary research, we have found that up to 70% of mobile user location data in the adtech ecosystem is insufficient quality for effective targeting. To help ensure our clients and partners are using reliable data, Factual’s Location Validation Stack validates each coordinate against a rigorous criteria, removing invalid or imprecise data.

Often the discussion focuses on the quality of user location data, and does not even touch on places data quality which is also important. Factual constantly refreshes our Global Places dataset, the changes are processed quickly and updates in real time. In a recent update of our places, we processed over 6MM changes. The IAB’s 12 Questions Every Buyer Should Ask about Location Data is a great resource to learn more about this topic.


On the issue of transparency, 38% of marketers and 31% of agencies express this as a concern. It is no surprise advertisers are concerned about transparency because advertising technology has long been thought of as a “black box.” At Factual, transparency is one of our core values. To help demonstrate this value, we give our clients the ability to see the physical locations they are targeting, define the radius size, create custom audiences and know the inventory their ads are running on.

Vendor Differentiation:

39% of marketers find it challenging to distinguish between location data providers. The research uncovered that agencies are overall less concerned about these challenge verses marketers and only 22% of agencies are concerned about being able to differentiate. To help marketers combat these challenges, here are a few best practices when looking for data providers. First, investigate their data sources and ideally work with providers who own their own 1st party data. Also, get an understanding of how often their data updated and refreshed. Factual’s 1st party Global Places covers over 100MM places and points of interest built from capturing billions of inputs. Our places data is constantly changing and updated in real time.

In the end, the research found despite the concerns about location data’s accuracy and transparency, marketers are convinced about the role of location data and looking for ways to expand the use of location data in the future. To download the full free report with all six key findings, click here.