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xAd Steps Up Its In-Store Attribution Game With comScore

The new metrics tool, comScore Location Lift in xAd, promises to show advertisers how campaign delivery influenced store visitation based on actual foot traffic.

The in-store attribution wars are heating up, as location marketplace xAd and online audience measurement provider comScore are expanding their collaboration with a focus on telling advertisers whether or not their mobile ads helped convince a consumer to walk into a shop.

The news, which was timed for xAd’s appearance at the Cannes Media Lions Awards event in France, comes amid of flurry of location-based marketing services offering to tell brands if their online-to-offline ad efforts are working or not.

For example, last week, Facebook became the latest entrant in the “attribution wars” with its Store Visits metric being included in its Local Awareness Ads product. But as two Forrester analysts cautioned, Facebook’s in-store attribution is mostly a way to tell whether a Facebook ad drove consumers to a store and does not factor in other touchpoints along the purchase path.

The “comScore Location Lift in xAd” product uses the audience measurement company’s own campaign validation and lift methodology alongside xAd’s Blueprints technology. The Blueprints tool was unveiled a year ago and was billed as a more accurate geofencing technology.

comScore’s and xAd’s Location Lift will enable advertisers to measure the reach and frequency of their mobile campaigns and understand how campaign delivery influenced store visitation based on actual foot traffic into stores.

The impetus on the part of xAd and comScore for getting into the store visitation race was reflects the mainstreaming of the location-based search and advertising market, which, in the U.S. is expected to grow at a CAGR of nearly 40 percent over the next four years, xAd noted, citing a Technavio report.

The move into in-store attribution is big step among a number of incremental moves xAd has been taking since evolving from its origins as a hyperlocal-focused mobile ad network seven years ago.

Before it released its Blueprints geofencing tool this spring, the company unveiled its Footprints data tool, which features a digital display clients can access to view blips on a map showing smartphone activity at any given moment.

Footprints shows real-time traffic within proximity to business locations — but it does not specifically detail whether or not someone entered through a store’s doors. Anytime someone at a business location opens up one of the 30,000-plus apps in xAd’s platform, that creates an instant data point that xAd can see and visualize on Footprints in “near real-time.”

As xAd noted in making this latest announcement, in order to realize the true value of location intelligence, marketers must be able to measure its impact on sales. The company first began seriously collaborating with comScore when it appointed Magid Abraham, the co-founder and executive chairman of online audience measurement provider comScore, as an advisor almost two years ago.

“Accurate measurement tools are essential in helping brands understand how advertising impacts sales, particularly in the relatively new and fast-growing sector of location-based advertising,” said Shashi Seth, xAd’s chief product officer at xAd. “xAd’s goal is to help bring people to a better place through location intelligence—in this case, by finally providing marketers with a reliable store visitation metric. Collaborations like this one will help establish a new standard for offline measurement while helping to deliver more accurate and timely ROI metrics to advertisers and publishers alike, validated by the leading online measurement company in the world.”

This latest release comes a week after xAd is rolled out MarketPlace Discovery, which intends to “take store visitation insights to the next level.” The New York-based location marketplace says its Discovery product can help brands understand the factors influencing their own store visitation, as well as those of their competitors. And it’s all in real-time as consumers move about their day.

As xAd has grown into a fuller programmatic ad player, the addition of an offline attribution solution is something of a necessity, especially considering how many other companies are offering the same capability:

  • Foursquare’s expansion of its location-based analytics with a product dubbed, fittingly enough, Attribution.
  • Geo-data specialist PlaceIQ began staking out its position beyond mobile last year in a partnership with Publicis Groupe and offline consumer data company
  • In-store metrics provider Placed began extending its Cross Device Marketplace to include mobile connections with out-of-home ads to also demonstrate in-store ad effectiveness.
  • Mobile analytics platform NinthDecimal moved beyond the smartphone by integrating its data with TiVo Research’s interactive TV viewership metrics to show retailers whether or not cross-screen ads drove customers into their places of business.

It’s important to add that the attribution offering will initially be available globally for mobile campaigns through xAd. Ultimately, by dint of comScore’s reach in the cross-platform ad space, the Location Lift product will be available “at massive scale” for desktop and television.

“We’re excited to help advertisers close the loop between ad exposure and in-store conversions through this new partnership,” said Duncan Trigg, SVP of Advertising at comScore. “comScore Location Lift in xAd will provide the cross-media comparable insights brands need to understand how they’re reaching their target audiences across screens, and whether those impressions converted into actual physical store visits.”