Thought Leadership
Factual on Democratizing Data, and Giving Accessibility to All

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Vikas Gupta
Director of Marketing and Operations
Factual

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Factual was founded in 2008 with the vision of becoming an open data platform, with the goal of providing marketers with unprecedented access to all available data, of which Factual would normalize and standardize for use in digital ad campaigns. How has the vision evolved over the years to where it stands today?

The mission was actually much broader than providing marketers with unprecedented access to all available data — the mission is to make data accessible to everyone. The mission hasn’t changed since the founding of the company — we continue to think about everything we do through the lenses of making data accessible.

What has evolved since the founding is the balance between making data and data accessibility. Early on we underestimated the amount of work we’d have to do on the accessibility side — we thought if we built high quality, trusted data, and made it available in relatively raw form through downloads or APIs, then most everyone would be able to take advantage of it. It turned out that most people needed a lot more help in order to take advantage of the data. Our Geopulse products, Geopulse Audience and Geopulse Proximity, add software and UIs to make the data more accessible, in this case specifically focused on mobile advertising and marketing use cases. (Teaser) later this year you’ll see us launch an exciting new product that’s again a combination of software and UIs that make the data more accessible for another market, outside of mobile advertising and marketing.

 

Factual is able to take the vast amounts of (anonymized) location data out there on users and stitch it to data points like physical locations, census information, events, and other information to build robust profiles on users. Factual also has a real-time geofencing product to reach users based on proximity to specific locations. What are some real-world applications of using this location data data in digital or mobile advertising campaigns?

Here are a few examples of how our data has been used in mobile advertising campaigns:

1. BMW was trying to reach high income users who were in the market for luxury vehicles. We created an audience of users who had visited BMW or competitive dealerships in recent months. We also geofenced these dealerships to reach users who were physically there with targeted messaging. This campaign was executed by our trading desk partner Cadreon via our DSP partner Adelphic, and resulted in 112.8% increase in foot traffic to BMW dealerships (measured by Placed).

2. A major car brand was promoting a truck in Texas and used Factual data to reach attendees of the Forth Worth Stock Show & Rodeo Event. Not only was messaging served during the event, but a custom audience of visitors was created and retargeted after the event to promote offers. This campaign was run by our partner Goodway Group and resulted in 2x-3x increases in CTRs and over 18,000 visits to dealer mobile sites.

3. A fast food brand was trying to increase foot traffic into their locations. They used Factual data to geofence their locations, and users who saw the ad were 34% more likely to visit the store than similar users who did not see the ad. This campaign was run by our partner Xaxis.

 

Through these user profiles, other datasets can be appended to the user, of which can give a sampling of their brand affinities, giving a marketer the ability to build behavioral, demographic, and geographic segments. Currently, through which platforms can marketers access these segments?

From day one we set out to build a neutral data company — a data company that exists purely to enable others in the world to be successful, and doesn’t compete with its customers. Marketers love this because they know that we’re focused 100% on providing the best data possible, we’re not conflicted by selling media, and they can access our data on their preferred media partners. DSPs, publishers, and networks love this because it means we’re a true partner to them and we’re not competing with them for the media spend. At this point we have over 70 signed partners across adtech platforms and agencies/trading desks, and we’re adding new ones at a steady clip. A full list is available on our site: https://www.factual.com/ad-partners.

 

To the extent that you can reveal, what are some 3rd party datasets Factual uses to enrich your own in-house proprietary dataset, to create these rich user profiles?

The key ingredient is our first party market leading Global Places data. This data covers over 95 million local businesses and points of interest in 50 countries. It’s data we build, maintain, and update on an ongoing basis, and it’s data that’s used, outside of mobile marketing, by thousands of developers and companies including Apple Maps, Facebook Places, Microsoft Bing, and Uber. In addition to this, our primary 3rd party data sources are census data from government sources and partnerships for events data.

 

Factual has grown to become the de facto player in location data, working with mobile advertising companies to meet all the location-data needs of their clients. In the last few years, you also made this location data available to Developers and Enterprises – can you explain more as to how you typically work with these other types of clients?

Our developer and enterprise licensing business actually predates our mobile marketing business. As I mentioned above, we have thousands of active developers and companies using our data via our APIs or downloads. Major use cases include local search/discovery, mapping/navigation, and social platforms (check-ins etc), and brands here include Apple Maps, Facebook Places, Microsoft Bing, and Uber. Other use cases include analytics and business intelligence use cases around real estate analysis and market sizing, lead generation, and data cleaning/enrichment. First Data Corp, the largest payment processor in the world, uses our data to help them clean and enrich their merchant database, and we have many other clients in the payments space using us to help clean and enrich their data, including some of the largest card issuing banks and payment networks.

 

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges a marketer faces today, in the context of data?

The biggest challenge a marketer faces today, in the context of data, is making an informed purchase decision — actually knowing the quality and provenance of data when they buy it. Data is everywhere these days. Every day there are new companies, new partnerships, new providers, new sources of data. It’s overwhelming for us to keep track of it all, and we’re in the data business. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a marketer to try to stay on top of the data marketplace, and more specifically, figure out which data they can trust, who they should work with, and which data isn’t very good.

One of the key requirements for a well functioning marketplace is transparency and information parity. Unfortunately the data business has long been plagued by a lack of transparency – marketers have long been forced to make data purchasing decisions without really knowing the data they are buying. Two factors that any buyer should be easily able to understand are provenance (i.e., where the data came from) and quality (i.e., precision, accuracy, freshness etc). Transparency is a core value of Factual’s and it’s why we, among other things, make all of our Global Places data publicly visible and searchable on our website — so our prospects and customers know what they are buying.

 

How can a Brand Marketer (CPG, QSR, or Retailer client) best use the local business and Point of Interest data in your Global Places product, to more effectively target their end consumer? Are there any innovations happening within the mobile data space that excites you the most? Lastly, what is your take on the future of location data and it’s use, in advertising, and beyond?

There is a lot here but I’m going to try to keep it short. For brand marketers, it really varies based on target audience and goals of the campaign, but I’d say that the more refined the definition of the target audience, the better we can help them use our data to reach their consumer. We have a whole team of experts whose role is to help our partners better use our data to achieve their marketing goals – any of our partners can reach out to strategy@factual.com for help with planning, ideas, or RFPs, and our team will get back to them with recommendations and custom audiences.

With respect to innovation and the future of location data – Google Now just continues to amaze me. It’s almost magical the way it can predict what I want to know, without having to ask. The future is when every app and every mobile experience is as magical as Google Now. (Teaser again) Keep your eyes peeled for our launch later this year – we’ll be doing our part to bring that future into the present.

 


 

Data is increasingly critical to driving innovation and no one should be at a data disadvantage. Factual believes that data should be accessible to every developer, entrepreneur, business, and organization – anyone who needs it to build a better app, provide a better search result, make smarter software, make a better decision, or help others make better decisions.

Factual is the neutral data company that makes data accessible to everyone, accelerating innovation and improving our daily lives. Thousands of developers, publishers, advertisers, and enterprises use Factual’s location data, including some of the world’s largest search, mapping, and social platforms, leading publishers and advertising technology firms encompassing billions of dollars of ad spend, and global leaders in financial services and payments. Factual’s core capability is an unmatched ability to build high-quality data, driven by its ever-expanding network of data-sharing partners and its data stack that turns billions of pieces of information into clean, structured factual data.

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