PlaceIQ Introduces 'Place Visit Rate' Mobile-to-Store Metric

In what might be considered something of a breakthrough, AdAge is reporting that agency Starcom MediaVest will be working with location-data specialist PlaceIQ to document what "percentage of customers served a mobile banner ad for a retailer subsequently visited one of that retailer's stores."

This is part of a new real-world ROI metric PlaceIQ is introducing. The company's new measurement is called "Place Visit Rate." 

I spoke to PlaceIQ founder Duncan McCall about this several weeks ago but it was pre-case study release and so non-public at the time. PlaceIQ uses an unique but anonymous ID to connect users in the aggregate who've seen mobile display campaigngs with in-store visitors. Here's how the company explains its methodology:

PVR is measured by aggregating all of the devices that were messaged during a campaign and analyzing the number of those same devices that were later seen within a specific location or place footprint. Additionally, PlaceIQ can also set up A/B testing to measure PVR lift by identifying control groups or messaging additional PlaceIQ audiences. 

PlaceIQ emphasizes that it doesn't track individuals:

Place Visit Rate does not track individuals, but rather measures if a set of anonymous devices moved to a certain location. All location data, device data and histories are disposed of by PlaceIQ after the campaign completes.

The methodology is imperfect and can only identify a portion of users who seen an ad and then shown up in a store. An article in AdAge claims PlaceIQ is only able to track "15% to 25% of all mobile ad traffic it monitors."  Beyond this, as we all know, "correlation doesn't equal causation." However this is a big step forward in terms of being able to measure the efficacy of mobile display advertising.   

Historically, coupons have been the most reliable way to measure online-to-offline impact. And mobile payments may one-day make "closing the loop" on online or mobile ads fairly routine. However most ad networks and marketers have had to use proxy data (calls, map lookups) to determine the offline impact of mobile ads. 

Telenav/Scout can track users who see an ad and then navigate to a store location. It's not clear however how often someone sees a mobile display ad and then invokes navigation to a store. 

There are others such as ShopKick and Placed, which measure in-store visits. And there are a "2.0" group of startups working on various flavors of in-store vists and activity measurement. Among them are Euclid Elements and WirelessWERX. The latter uses indoor location to provide business intelligence and analytics services for retailers. 

Accordingly there are a range of methodologies now to try and track or capture online-to-offline ad impact. PlaceIQ's approach is a significant new entry into this arena and others may quickly try to match or approximate it.