The Problem with Mobile Location Data

As mobile usage soars and more ad dollars shift to mobile devices, new concerns are surfacing over the quality of location data that makes mobile such a powerful platform.

The fact is, many mobile ad networks, exchanges and publishers fail to come clean about what kind of location data is packaged with their inventory.

According to Thinknear only 37% of mobile inventory by volume can be considered ‘hyperlocal’, meaning location data places the ad within 100 meters of the user’s true real-time location. For reference, this is approximately the length of a football field.

Almost 30% of location data is only accurate within 60 miles of a user’s true real-time location.

Volume by Accuracy Mobile Thinknear Location Score Index Q1 2015


In terms of location data quality, first party data provided by a phone’s GPS location to an app or website is the best available. This data is granted by a user’s permission. This “location-enabled” inventory is increasing and allows campaigns with very specific location targeting goals to be run at scale. This inventory is primarily inside well-established apps that require a user’s GPS location to function accurately.

As the mobile world becomes more complex, marketers need to be aware of the limitations and impact of location data on their campaign goals. Mobile exchanges and publishers are not equal in terms of data quality. As you are planning and executing a campaign, questions need to be asked about the source of location data and accounted for the in the scope of the campaign.