June 15th, 2017
Mobile Location Firm xAd Is Changing Its Name and Moving Into Data Analysis
New York-based xAd wants to be known for more than serving up location-powered mobile campaigns. The 8-year old firm is rebranding itself as GroundTruth today—a new name meant to convey the data science that marketers are increasingly relying on.
“Earlier in our life we were very focused on media and advertising, and it’s still a very big part of our business, but I think what we’re realizing is that location is so much more than location targeting, and these use cases are kind of unfolding in front of us,” said Monica Ho, chief marketing officer at GroundTruth. “We’re going to be making a bigger investment and focus in data and insights and having separate offerings for those.”
It’s a similar narrative that Foursquare, PlaceIQ and others have adopted in recent months as they focus on offering data instead of advertising. This data can be used to inform real-estate planning, store planning and insights for investors and hedge funds, for example, Ho said. The company also works with the Federation of Internet Alerts to send out targeted alerts when a child goes missing. GroundTruth’s original focus on location-based advertising is already “very well known,” but brands increasingly began asking for insights and trends regarding foot traffic and visitation over the past two years.
GroundTruth worked with branding firm Siegel+Gale to create the new name, visuals and positioning. The name refers to data that’s collected at the ground level by direct observation versus data that is collected through modeling or simulations, per Ho.
“We loved that idea because in this world of digital signals and fraud, brand safety issues, fake news, real visitation—what people are actually doing in the physical world—is as close as you get,” Ho said.
Those discussions about fraud and brand safety over the past year have been “quite significant,” Ho said. “It’s impacted our business to the point that advertisers with the lead of [Procter & Gamble’s CMO] Marc Pritchard started to pull back ad dollars and engaging with us on certain initiatives if we weren’t validated by certain standards.”
So, GroundTruth created a whitelist with DoubleVerify, underwent viewability certification from Moat and Integral Ad Science and is certified through the Trustworthy Accountability Group. GroundTruth also underwent an audit working with third-party measurement company infoScout to validate its data in terms of reach and accuracy.
When asked about why GroundTruth is pivoting into data now, Ho said that location data needs scale and validation that hasn’t existed until now. In the past year, GroundTruth has grown the number of visits that go through the company’s technology by 80X, equivalent to processing more than 1 billion visits every month. Fifty percent of those visits come from background data that constantly tracks daily and monthly users’ location.
“When you’re using location data for ad targeting, there’s a certain accuracy and precision that you need but quite frankly, if you’re near to the target, that’s good enough,” Ho said. “Using that data to inform an audience is a very important difference.”
Next week in Cannes, GroundTruth will unveil an activation around the Palais, but “I don’t think you’re going to see much splash from us for probably six months, and the reason for that is that this brand change and direction was a change in how we see ourselves as a company and the way that we go to market,” Ho said. “We want to make sure that this change is embodied and understood internally first.”