Results tagged “IRD” from IABlog

On December 7 in San Francisco, Quova sponsored the IAB’s last Innovator’s Round Table Dinner (IRD) of 2010, and I had the honor of being their host.  The event was held at the popular Peruvian eatery La Mar, on Pier 1 (the food was fabulous, and if you go, be sure to order a ‘Pisco Sour’ from the bar). Having been sponsored by an industry leader in online geo location the conversation—not surprisingly—centered on the following topics related to location-based advertising:

  • The benefit of geo-location to advertisers and marketers
  • The opportunities and risks created by the joining of online and offline data
  • The responsibility and challenges of protecting consumer’s privacy.

I had the pleasure of sitting with a table of overachievers that included LaurieAnne Lassek and Walter Beisheim of Quova, Michael McGuire and Alicia Gubba of Gartner, Jack Androvich of AutoDesk and Chase Norlin of Alphabird.  I am still kicking myself for not asking the origin of the name “Alphabird” (perhaps it is the bird that incited the violence depicted by Alfred Hitchcock?).  

Our spirited conversation brought interesting points. The benefit of location awareness to advertisers was summed up in the term “relevance.”  Relevance is a nuanced term in the digital advertising industry. However, if you think of all the information we can know about a consumer and their interests before delivering an ad, it’s all potentially useless if our offers are poorly targeted with regard to a consumer’s location. For instance, my interest in Peruvian food and music is generally irrelevant, EXCEPT when I am visiting San Francisco. Then it becomes highly relevant—to La Mar

The joining of offline and online data remains a touchy subject. While we did not delve deeply into why, we did acknowledge that regulation is coming in this area, and there are challenges. One of those challenges is how to use merged data to effectively market to consumers, without making them feel as if they were being ‘stalked’ in the real world based on their online activity. Companies that control offline consumer data manage a terrifying amount of personal information.  If offline personal information is merged with online profiles, and that merger results in highly targeted online offers, there may be a risk of alarming, rather than enticing consumers—thus breaking the trust relationship between consumer and brand.  When consumers lose the ability to exercise control over their personal information, the issue becomes very sensitive. Our industry would be wise to offer consumers meaningful choice to enhance trust, not break it.  This of course, led us naturally to the last topic. 

We fear what we do not understand. The Federal Trade Commission is reminding us of this every day. If we do not want to risk driving the consumer away, then our industry must take steps to earn their trust. Trust is built through educating and offering meaningful choice to consumers. As such, the self-regulatory work we are engaged in (see will need to evolve to include targeting based on location awareness.

This was the third IRD I have attended, and the first I have hosted.  These are special events—always intimate, personal and full of stimulating conversation. Thanks to Quova for sponsoring, and thank you to all those who attended and participated.

Happy Holidays!

Steve Sullivan is VP Digital Supply Chain Solutions for the IAB


About twenty people braved some wildly rainy Atlanta weather on November 30 for a fantastic meal at Bacchanalia, and a fascinating conversation about the intersection between customization and privacy, at the latest IAB Innovators Roundtable Dinner (IRD).


Sponsored by Quova, this IRD focused the dinner discussion on geotargeting, and how location and other consumer data lead to better advertising campaigns and happier customers—assuming they’re done correctly. Attendees included folks from 22 Squared, BBDO, Nurun, DS Waters, Home Depot, ING, Coke, and of course Quova and the IAB.

I found it very interesting how broadly attendees perceive the advantages to marketers of geolocation in online advertising. One discussion focused on geo-targeting’s benefits in terms of engagement and prospecting. Another centered primarily on the strategic value of this kind of capability, in terms of assessing competitiveness and growth. And the third conversation focused mainly on the benefits from delivering more relevant messages to consumers.

Home Depot discussed a simple but effective way that they’ve used geotargeting: in their “Spring Black Friday” campaign, they used location data to determine whether to feature, say, a plant versus a snow shovel in the display ads they ran. That gets at another point that I think is sometimes overlooked when discussing location-based targeting, particularly in mobile: often I feel like it’s presented as an all-or nothing thing, like you either target based on someone’s exact latitude and longitude, or you don’t use it at all. However, far less granular location data, to a ZIP code, a city or even sometimes a state or region can also unlock value for an advertiser and relevance for a consumer.

I heard mixed things on the topic of consumer privacy—one perspective at dinner held that privacy concerns are very much a factor of the older segment of the audience; younger consumers generally embrace the relevance that targeting can deliver, and so the whole question of privacy will diminish over time. On the other hand, another view holds that eventually there will be some kind of opt-in requirement (this was the week that the FTC issued its new recommendation on targeting), since privacy regulation may be the only thing a divided Congress might actually accomplish.

One perceptive comment was that customers don’t know what marketers know or don’t know, and so the industry needs to help them understand that. Of course, that’s something the IAB is working on.

If I had to summarize all the conversations, the consensus advice coming out of this dinner is that geotargeting can be large win-win for marketers and consumers, but it has to be done respectfully and with the right tone. Marketers and agencies need to beware of using targeting simply because they can, and focus on opportunities where it really improves the message. And targeting that hits a consumer over the head with “I know you’re in DOWNTOWN ATLANTA GEORGIA!” is not going to be as welcome, or as effective, as targeting that uses that same piece of data more subtly, to enhance the value of the message.

Joe Laszlo is Director of Research for the IAB