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What Is Location Data?

Location data refers to any information about the geographic coordinates of a device (smartphones, tablets, smart watches, etc.).

Where Does Location Data Come From?

Phones, tablets, wearable devices, and so on receive signals from GPS satellites, Wi-Fi hubs, cell towers, and beacons which emit low-energy Bluetooth signals several times per second. These technologies then record locations by noting where and when mobile devices receive these signals.

Ad servers also provide location data in the form of bid stream data. These servers record which devices receive which advertisements or visit which websites and when. Since these ads geofenced, the information allows you to identify the general area a device is in.

What Types of Columns/Attributes Should I Expect When Working with This Data?

The primary attributes of this data are longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates, device IDs, and timestamps. In fact, the length of the coordinates indicates the level of specificity of the location, with coordinates of one decimal place encompassing a large city and coordinates of five decimal places denoting a single tree or door.

Additional attributes include IP address, country code, and, for bid stream data, the app and publisher IDs.

What Is This Data Used For?

Companies primarily use this data for targeted advertising and for retargeting campaigns.

Other companies rely on the data to run: navigation and transportation applications, for example.

More seriously, emergency services use the data to search for missing or endangered individuals caught in natural disasters.

How Should I Test the Quality of Location Data?

A good location dataset should meet your specificity requirements—in other words, do you intend to advertise to a region, a city, a neighborhood? Will the dataset provide the required/necessary detail or is it too specific?

Your dataset should also update almost constantly. Most location data changes by the second and many datasets update every few seconds. Set up your data feed so that it updates automatically every few seconds or minutes.

You can easily test the data without having a technical background by taking yourself to the geofenced area to see if your data feed records you or if you receive a targeted ad.

If, instead, you choose to purchase the data from a vendor, consider their reputation (feel free to review any of the vendors you have experience with on our site!) in addition to the specificity level and update frequency.

Interesting Case Studies and Blogs to Look Into

IAB: Mobile Location Use Cases and Case Studies
MMA Global: Checking In: Use Cases for Location Data Beyond Geo-fencing

Tangible Examples of Impact

Brokers like Venntel obtain mobile phone location data from the marketing industry and sell access to it to government agencies through its software platform. The data is drawn from ordinary cellphone apps that record location information to serve targeted advertisements.

Wall Street Journal: Tax Agency Watchdog Is Investigating IRS Use of Cellphone Location Data

Relevant datasets

Position Tech Marketing Data


Position Tech Marketing Data provides company listings, store locations, & other data. They even offer local SEO consulting for marketers

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Das Örtliche Location Data

by Das Örtliche

Das Örtliche Location Data locates commercial addresses or services like emergency pharmacies using mobile data or manual city/zip searches

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Averty Product Research

by Averty

Averty Product Research enables businesses to develop customized solutions on its products and services by gaining valuable feedback from customers.

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