Five Minutes With: Duncan McCall, CEO of PlaceIQ

What are your biggest opportunities & challenges for the next 12-24 months?

The greatest opportunity is unlocking the full potential of location data to reveal context about how consumers interact with the physical and digital worlds. To date, media strategy, planning, and activation have been the biggest beneficiaries of the insights that location data can provide. Location is an incredible asset for better understanding the customer journey, revealing consumer affinities and audience profiles that makes media delivery much more effective. Media agencies and brands can get a better understanding of who consumers are, where they’ve been and the likelihood of visiting certain locations throughout the day. 

The opportunity over the next 12 months is for these entities to apply those same deep insights into consumer behavior across all marketing touchpoints and even for decisions outside of marketing. The potential for location data to extend across markets and be used in a range of industries is the next frontier. For example, by analyzing traffic routes and patterns, location data can inform decisions about out of home billboard placement down to the side of the road they should be placed. The same type of insights can even inform the decision about where to open a new physical retail location—a multi-million dollar decision that, if done properly, has broader business benefits.  

What keeps your clients up at night?

At a high level, our clients’ goals are the same as they’ve always been: find new ways to reach, understand, engage with and sell to consumers. Additionally, our clients are looking for accurate and actionable ways to measure attribution and connect real-world visitation with digital activities. At a more granular level, the biggest concern is the need to prove the return on investment for the huge amount of dollars being poured across marketing channels. All levels of marketing are tasked with showing how their strategy and tactics are influencing the real world. Mobile and location intelligence are the answer to that question.

What’s the hardest thing to educate clients about?

Like many other industries, the move away from tradition techniques requires some education. In the past, attribution has relied on techniques such as panels and surveys, which have limited ability to tie advertising to real world results. Small sample sizes and incentivized panel participation provide a limited view into consumer behavior that must then be modeled before applied to marketing decisions. It’s time to move from not only traditional ways of thinking about consumers and audiences, but into the framework of holistic ROI measurement versus just counting clicks.

What location data offers is the ability to use observed behavior as the basis for informing marketing decisions. Accuracy in location data is another idea that many in our space struggle with, driven mostly by wildly differing claims by vendors. Clients need a better understanding of the science of location, in order to understand what’s possible and separate the legitimate technology providers from others.

What are some unmet needs in the marketing technology landscape? 

As the marketing technology industry continues to expand, there needs to be a way to unify the disparate solutions in marketers’ tool kits. Brands are just beginning to unlock the potential of tying these disparate tools directly with their own customer data… Both marketers and brands need a way to better understand consumers across various platforms, that allows them to garner more accurate measurement and as a result more effectively target customers. Imagine for example, an auto dealership tying location data directly to its own transaction data to say with 100 percent certainty how advertising is affecting lot visits and ultimately, car sales.

What social network do you anticipate accelerating growth in the next year?

Some recent statistics have said Instagram is quickly accelerating, which I agree with. It’s tapping into younger demographics and is mobile-first, which gives them the scale needed to continue to grow. It’s also a visually appealing medium that brands can easily tap into.

–Duncan McCall is CEO of PlaceIQ

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