How granular geographic data delivers privacy-compliant insights and improves effectiveness

Russell Nuzzo

Russell Nuzzo

Global Head of New Media Measurement 

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Measuring the effectiveness of media campaigns over the short term continues to be a significant challenge for marketers. On the one hand, privacy regulation and changes to how tech companies manage consumer data have rendered solutions such as multitouch attribution (MTA) obsolete.

On the other hand, marketers are still under pressure to make sure every ad dollar works as hard as possible amid macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty and consumers moving into an expanding universe of digital platforms. 

The good news is there is an approach that can square this circle and deliver granular, privacy-compliant insights that can help to mitigate the current challenges.

The long slow death of consumer data tracking

Google began 2024 by starting to make good on its promise to restrict third-party cookies by default on its Chrome browser. Initially, one percent of users will be affected by the change, with Google intending to increase to 100% once any remaining competition concerns of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have been addressed.  

At the same time, regulators around the world continue to bear down on companies that do not comply with a smorgasbord of privacy legislation. In the US, for example, the Federal Trade Commission has proposed for the first time that a data aggregator be prohibited from selling or licensing precise location data. 

“73% of UK marketers feel they are not well prepared for the withdrawal of third-party cookies”

Marketers remain unsure about the best way forward. According to research in WARC’s Future of Programmatic Report, 73% of UK marketers feel they are not well prepared for the withdrawal of third-party cookies, while 58% of global marketing leaders feel they lack a working understanding of how changing privacy regulations will affect their work.

This plays into wider concerns that exist about the data that’s available currently. Only 50% of marketers are satisfied with the breadth, depth, and quality of data available for use in measurement programs, according to Accelerating growth with marketing effectiveness: A playbook, which we created in partnership with WARC. In the same report, a worrying 40% did not agree that the majority of marketing investment decisions are supported by data or insights.  

Discover the power of granular geographic data

Access to privacy-compliant data that enables all media to be measured and optimized on a timescale that gives marketers the insights to demonstrate the effectiveness of their campaigns is possible. 

The glue that underpins this data is geography. Think about the delivery information that accompanies every ad placement. Whether it’s a 15-second TV commercial that runs on a particular network during a specific time slot, a digital display ad that features on a dedicated section of a website, or a paid social media campaign, each contains information about where geographically the individual media impressions were served. 

In the UK or US, for example, delivery metrics for every ad placement can be accessed at the postcode or Zip Code level. Crucially, this data does not contain personally identifiable information (PII). Unlike MTA, which relies on user- or cookie-level data, this means that it is compliant with data protection regulation by default. As marketers increasingly adopt AI, the lack of PII in granular geographic data also makes it harder for any potential bad actors seeking to exploit it. 

“Not everyone realizes that there are striking similarities between people who live close to one another”

When you integrate key KPIs, such as sales metrics, and other factors, such as local economic conditions, promotions, and weather with granular geographic data, you can start to build up an accurate picture of how your campaigns are performing across a large, statistically significant number of micro-geographic areas. 

Additionally, what not everyone realizes is that there is relative homogeneity at a postcode or ZIP code level – in other words, there are striking similarities between people who live close to one another. This means that marketers can compare how ads resonate in micro-geographies based on key characteristics, such as age, gender, income, occupation, and more. 

Want to compare how successful your paid social campaign was with high-income males in one city versus another? Geographic media delivery data combined with other privacy-compliant information enables you to analyze its impact at this granular level. 

Near-time insights enable you to take immediate action

As well as providing you with hindsight about the past, the insights generated from granular geographic data can also help you with present and future campaigns. Getting information in near time – via data automation and advanced modelling methods – means you can optimize campaigns on the fly. If an advert is working well in one area but not another, for example, or with one audience but not another, you could change the underperforming creative unit or pull the campaign entirely and reallocate the budget. 

By understanding audience performance across micro-geographies, you can improve who you target in the future and maximize performance. To enable this, it is important to focus on audience attributes that are buyable within programmatic media platforms. These attributes ensure that your measurement-to-insight-to-activation loop is a complete circle. 

Crucially, all this can be done while using data that is compliant with a privacy-first approach to build trust with consumers. 

“Granular geographic data can deliver improved results for marketers and peace of mind to consumers”

One global automotive manufacturer used Sensor™, Gain Theory’s multichannel attribution solution, to measure and optimize across omnichannel campaigns that aimed to increase test drive numbers and, ultimately, sales of a specific vehicle. By identifying demographic attributes to target and household income filters to apply, Sensor was able to explain car-buying behavior and media responsiveness. All told, test drives grew 18% and $56 million in incremental sales were generated. 

Measuring the effectiveness of media and advertising may feel like a complex and daunting prospect in the current data and privacy environment, but a tried and test approach, based on granular geographic data, can deliver improved results for marketers and peace of mind to consumers.

Contact us to discuss how Sensor™ can help your company to accelerate growth.

A version of this article was originally published on The Drum website. Click here to view. You can listen to the related podcast ‘How are marketers balancing privacy and personalisation?’ on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.


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