New Footfall Traffic Measurement Debuts, but Privacy Concerns Abound

21 Aug

Location basedAd tech firm Simpli.fi recently announced a new technology that enables them to measure in-store traffic from households who have been served ads through over-the-top (OTT) or connected TVs. According to the firm, they use a method to track physical visitors who were served digital ads using a geo-fencing technology. They can then measure the impact of an ad (or series of ads) by comparing traffic among those who were served the ad(s) to those who weren’t. The firm claims that they can also measure this across devices, meaning on actual televisions, but also tablets or phones.

While this is a feature and data set many marketers would love to get their hands on, it comes at an interesting time where consumer concerns over privacy are at the highest they’ve ever been. For example, a recent survey of consumers published by digital privacy firm FigLeaf found that 78 percent of respondents agreed that recent privacy scandals have “impacted their online behavior.” Of those, 74 percent said they’re “sharing less information online.” It’s not entirely clear what that constitutes exactly, but one thing is for sure: Consumers don’t want their personal data mishandled, even if they’re not always willing to take the steps to protect themselves.

What’s most interesting about Simpli.fi’s technology, though, is that it doesn’t appear to use personal information, at least none that isn’t already publicly available. According to their website, the firm matches up addresses provided by advertisers (could be customer addresses or from other publicly-available sources), which are then “geo-fenced” along the plat lines of each address. Devices can then be targeted by meshing location data provided by devices and apps. Advertisers can also target consumers with additional data, presumably 3rd-party. Using this methodology, the firm claims advertisers can also measure the impact of direct mail.

The question is whether or not this goes beyond consumers’ privacy expectations. It does not appear that they can opt out, unless they opt out of all advertising on a specific device. Of course, opting out of ads on television is not possible, thus the emphasis on the value this technology brings to OTT and connected TV ads. And in most mobile and desktop websites and/or applications, opting out of advertising can mostly be done through ad-blockers.

From our perspective, the question is more about whether or not this technology can deliver value—both to advertisers and their customers. Of course, advertisers win when their ads are shown to their ideal audiences and that results in sales lifts. Consumers also possibly win, if advertisers aren’t using the technology to simply spam households. Really, it all goes back to how well do you know your target audiences and how well you can reach them.

If you’re not sure your ads are reaching your target audiences, give us a call. We can help you determine if your ads are reaching the right people, and if not, we can help you ensure they do.

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