Marketing strives to be as precise as possible without knowing one crucial detail: where the audience is at any given time. That’s why location data has become so valuable to today’s marketers. Now we can target individuals based on where they actually are.

Location data comes from multiple sources, and each source creates distinct challenges for extracting accurate data. Here is how to overcome these challenges.

These insights have proved so valuable that 82% of marketers plan to use more location data over the next two years. The most commonly used data is from regional census results and point-of-sale solutions, but these are just two of many sources marketers can draw on.

Moving forward, location data will be a crucial component of all outreach efforts. Now that marketers can track audiences in the real world and online, they can integrate the results to create detailed consumer profiles that reveal empirical insights about what people want, need, and plan to buy. The marketers who leverage those insights effectively can meet consumers where they want to go and engage them organically along the way.

One study of the benefits of location-based marketing found that campaigns that incorporated location data generated $2.5 million more in profits over three years. Clearly, this information is an asset, but only when it’s accurate.

Location data is gleaned from multiple sources — IP addresses, GPS coordinates, Wi-Fi signals, apps, and beacons. Each source creates distinct challenges for extracting accurate data. Some examples include physical barriers, inactive locations, and technological limitations.

Overcoming these obstacles starts by understanding them. This is the information you need to know about location data accuracy:

IP Addresses Rotate

Matching a device to a specific location for an extended period is difficult because IP addresses rotate regularly, sometimes once a month. That means if marketers are targeting a specific device for three months, the IP address could change and route the messages to the wrong person. How IP addresses are determined is also an issue. The address can be pulled from an app the device has open rather than the device itself, leading to inaccurate location data.

High-Quality Data Is in Short Supply

By and large, users have to opt in to allow apps to track their location. As a result, the amount of location data gleaned from these apps is relatively small. It can also be unreliable because in urban areas, there are physical barriers blocking GPS signals between satellites and devices. One solution is to build apps with a background refresh built in to continually update location data. The only problem is this feature drains battery life and gets disabled by most users.

Location Technology Needs Improvement

In-store beacons promised to connect consumers and retail environments in incredible ways, but they haven’t lived up to expectations. Beacons only work if people have a dedicated app on their phone and have the correct settings enabled. Most of the people who walk through the door don’t meet these criteria, meaning beacons spend a lot of time sitting idle. A major opportunity to observe how people move through stores is largely lost.

Knowing that location data suffers from widespread inaccuracies, marketers must search for providers who can verify that information is complete, current, and correct. All the top providers in the industry have access to essentially the same information sources. How they test that information for accuracy is what distinguishes the best of the best.

As you’re vetting providers, inquire how they pinpoint a device’s location and what methodology they use to remove bad data. You should also explore whether they can accommodate the scale of your campaigns and how they link location data to online behaviors. Whether a provider can deliver depends on whether that provider has developed proprietary tools and techniques designed to elevate location data quality.

Valassis Digital has spent the past decade learning how to gather more of the best location data available. Don’t settle for approximate; insist on accurate. Contact our team to learn more about our methods.