Can Businesses Use Hyperlocal to Leverage Customers’ Politics?

There has been significant coverage about the differences in Democrats and Republicans, but to date there hasn’t been any analysis of real world activities associated with political affiliation.  Voting Democratic or Republican plays a part in which establishments we step foot in and which ones we don’t, from grocery stores to restaurants and from retailers to gas stations, presenting brands and candidates with very powerful insights into their constituents.


Whether you’re a political campaign strategist or a marketing manager for a brick-and-mortar retailer, understanding the offline behaviors of your audience provides rich insights to help you build a more complete profile of your audience, their preferences, and what this means to your organization.


For instance, political digital ad spend is expected to increase sixfold from 2008 to 2012.  In this most recent election cycle candidates started experimenting more with mobile to engage voters and potential converts. As the shift to smartphones continues, political dollars will move towards mobile and with that we will see the advancement in sophisticated mobile advertising campaigns that utilize mobile’s most unique and valuable trait — location. Utilizing this location and place insight, strategists can build location-based campaigns that target loyal party affiliates with “get out the vote” or “donate” messaging, or potential converts by targeting businesses that reach parity for Democrats and Republicans, and are likely to include a more moderate and potentially high-conversion visitor base.


On the flip side, businesses that better understand the political composition of their visitor base could anticipate and react more quickly to potential issues that result from partnerships with personalities that have a strong political leaning. For instance, the backlash resulting from Donald Trump’s tweets surrounding President Obama’s reelection resulted in more than 670k signatures on a petition to remove Trump’s product line from Macy’s. Utilizing this place data, Macy’s could quickly quantify that Democrats were 31% more likely to visit a Macy’s and that Trump’s comments against a Democratic President could potentially impact Macy’s brand perception across its most loyal customers.


In an effort to build an accurate “places profile” of today’s electorate, we analyzed the activities of opted-in panelists via their mobile device to determine the businesses whose customers lean left and those that lean right. This data is an aggregation of pilot participants of Placed Panels. Democratic and Republican affiliation was determined at the county level where Obama or Romney won by greater than a five percent margin.


Top Businesses for Democrats and Republicans


A look at the top places visited by Democrats and Republicans found some interesting insights into the political composition of many popular businesses:




  • Grocery Stores – Trader Joe’s: Democrats were nearly twice as likely to visit Trader Joe’s compared to the average U.S. citizen (index of 174). They were also more likely to visit Whole Foods (index of 139) and Safeway grocery stores (index of 134).
  • Restaurants – Dunkin’ Donuts: Democrats were 60 percent more likely to frequent Dunkin’ Donuts than the national average. They also displayed a higher tendency to visit Starbucks, White Castle, Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits, Chipotle and Jamba Juice.
  • Retail — Macy’s: Democrats had the strongest skew towards shopping at Macy’s, with the Apple Store and CVS also skewing toward the left.



  • Gas Stations — Love’s Travel Stops: Republicans had a high tendency to visit travel centers and gas stations overall compared to the national average. People in Republican counties were 2X more likely to visit Love’s travel stops, Pilot Flying J travel centers and Sheetz.
  • Restaurants — Sonic Drive-In: Republicans were more than twice as likely to visit Sonic. Hooters, Whataburger, Hardee’s and Arby’s also skewed to the right.
  • Retail — Dollar General: Republicans were 2X more likely to visit Dollar General compared to the national average.

The impact of quantifying the physical world goes beyond politics.  For example, Placed quantified the effects of Hurricane Sandy on real-world behaviors taking assumptions and converted them into action able insights that could help governments, businesses, and organizations plan and react more efficiently to specific events like Hurricane Sandy.


Looking at location data helps turn what was once vague anecdotal assumptions into factual conclusions that have the potential to powerfully impact how we understand, predict, react, and change human behavior.


This article originally appeared on Street Fight.

Black Friday Retail Recap: This Year’s Winners Based on Real World Visits

The dust has settled on Black Friday and early reports are touting the record-breaking billions spent by consumers. But which retailers were the most successful at turning the Black Friday hype into a flood of in-store foot traffic?


In order to better understand how Black Friday retail fared this season, Placed took a look at shoppers’ behaviors utilizing our location analytics platform to determine this season’s early top gainers. This data is an aggregation of opt-in panelists from the Placed Panels pilot participants.


The study found some interesting, and rather surprising results:


  • American Eagle, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret and J.C. Penney saw the largest increase of in-store visits on Black Friday compared to their November average. In-store foot traffic increased by a factor greater than 4X to these four retailers.
  • In the case of American Eagle, Placed was able to accurately quantify the influx of in-store traffic, projecting the retailer’s positive earnings announced nearly a week later, and beating analysts by at least a day.
  • Retailers that opened their doors on Thursday night, including Toys ‘R’ Us, Sears and Kmart, saw less relative growth in visitation on Black Friday compared to competitors that were closed on Thursday, as Thanksgiving Creep meant more dispersed in-store visitation across the two-day period.
  • Walmart and Target, which both opened their doors on Thanksgiving, saw gains with Black Friday, but not enough to crack the top 20.
  • Among other notable retailers, Best Buy saw Black Friday visits increase by nearly 3.5X while Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kohl’s all saw visits increase by more than 3.5X.
  • The Apple Store ranked 5th as highlighting strong demand for its products combined with rare discounts.

Although the online channel continues to grow its share of the retail transactions, offline sales still reign supreme driving more than $9 in every $10 retail dollars spent. With the lack of offline insights into shopping behaviors though, one would think the share of dollars was reversed between the offline and online worlds. Quantifying actual shopper foot traffic unlocks a wealth of insights into consumer behavior, retail market share, and competitive intelligence, providing the potential to significantly impact the bottom line for retailers not only during Black Friday and the holiday shopping season, but all year long.


This article originally appeared in Adotas.


Black Friday Retail Winners by Store Visits

Placed Wins the Unilever Mobile Commerce Startup Challenge at ad:tech New York

We are proud to announce that Placed was selected as the winner of the ad:tech Startup Spotlight Unilever Mobile Commerce Challenge last week in New York. Placed was chosen from hundreds of applicants to compete on-stage at the conference, which was judged by members of the Unilever team including Fabio Marciano, Senior Brand Manager for Knorr, Craig Rudner, Senior Brand Development Manager for Klondike Ice Cream, and Drew Corry, Communications Channel Manager for North America.


David Shim, Founder and CEO of Placed, had just 10 minutes to pitch the Unilever team on how location analytics could benefit their Knorr brand of products. David explained how, leveraging Placed Panels, Unilever could build their own location panel, providing never-before-seen insights into the physical world behaviors of their current and potential customers. Through these behavioral-level location insights, brands such as Unilever can improve their offline and online campaigns with highly actionable intelligence into their consumer segments.


The Unilever team was impressed, selecting Placed as the winner from a talented field of category finalists including Waze, Urban Airship and LevelUp. Not only did Placed walk away with the Innovation Award, but we now have the opportunity to take the pitch in-house at Unilever.


Needless to say, a very successful first trip to ad:tech for the team here at Placed.


Startup Spotlight Winners in the Unilever Mobile Commerce Category

Placed Founder and CEO, David Shim, accepting the Innovation Award with the Unilever judges.

Quantifying the Effects of Hurricane Sandy on Physical World Behaviors

As news reports filtered in of the possible severity of Hurricane Sandy, many people along the east coast spent days preparing for the storm that unfortunately lived up to many forecasters’ worst predictions.


In order to understand the effects of Hurricane Sandy on people’s activities in the physical world, we analyzed the behaviors of opted-in panelists via their mobile device who were located in the affected regions of New York City and along the New Jersey coast.  This data is an aggregation of pilot participants of Placed Panels and is not necessarily representative of the general population.


Intuitively, one would correctly assume that grocery and hardware store visits would increase, but for the first time these assumptions can now be validated with quantifiable metrics. By contextualizing these assumptions, Placed observed interesting shifts in behavior ahead of the storm.


People in these impacted areas were nearly 4X more likely to visit a grocery or hardware store during the weekend of October 26 – 28, when compared to the monthly average, as many people stocked up on food and supplies in anticipation of the storm.  People were also more than 2X as likely to visit gas stations and convenience stores during those three days as they made their way out of town or filled up in anticipation of post-storm shortages.


Category Visits Trend

As the storm made landfall on the 29th though, Placed saw a precipitous drop in visits to grocery and hardware stores as many people hunkered down at home. Additionally we saw a more gradual decline in relative visitation to gas & convenience stores. The day of the storm saw visits to hotels & motels increase by fourfold as many sought refuge away from their homes. The uptick in hotels & motels from October 5th to the 8th was associated with the Columbus Day holiday weekend.


Often overlooked, Placed analyzed the places people were less likely to go as the storm approached.  Placed found restaurants, gyms and places of worship all saw around three-fourths less relative visitation during the weekend of October 26 – 28 compared to the monthly average for these activities.


Taking a deeper dive into the places people visited during the weekend of the storm’s approach, we saw that people in these impacted areas were nearly:


  • 4X more likely to visit a RadioShack compared to the October average.
  • 3X more likely to visit the supermarket chain Stop and Shop.
  • 2X more likely to visit drugstore chain Duane Reade, Walmart and Home Depot.


As expected, Hurricane Sandy clearly affected people’s physical world behaviors, but quantifying these changes in behavior brings a new level of dimension to understanding how real-world events influence people’s paths throughout the physical world.

Create a Location Panel with Placed Panels

Today, we are excited to launch Placed Panels, our next step in bringing location analytics to companies looking for real-world insights.


Where Do Your Customers Go Throughout Their Day?


Placed Panels is a platform for businesses to build location panels and understand the places that their customer segments go in the physical world.


Unlike Placed Analytics, Placed Panels provides a view into location activities throughout the day for opt-in participants.  We received feedback that while it was useful to know where their users were when interacting with their mobile content, businesses also wanted more insights into where their customers were going throughout the day.   Now, you can get a bigger picture of your customers’ preferences; for example, you can determine which competitors’ stores they visit in the physical world, and how often.


Start Recruiting Panelists in Just 15 Minutes


Placed Panels gives you the tools to start recruiting panelists and obtaining location insights in just 15 minutes.  We provide a recruitment URL, a co-branded mobile app and access to the analytics reports.  You simply need to determine which customer segments you want to measure, how many panelists you want to recruit, the duration of the panel and the incentive (optional).



Features Available with Placed Panels


We are also adding some new features to our analytics reports, available just with Placed Panels:


  • Demographic filters – For example, which restaurants do women visit most often?  Which restaurants do men visit?  Do people with household income over $100k prefer different retail stores to people with household income of $50-75k?
  • Ratings-level reporting on visitors – Obtain figures around the number of visits and visitors to a place during a given time period, at a higher level of precision than the nearby data offered in Placed Analytics


View Example Insights


Here are some examples of data available through Placed Panels, based on a pilot run in August 2012.  This panel sought to identify differences in behavior across ten markets.


  • McDonald’s and Walmart were the only two businesses to be ranked in top 10 in all reported markets
  • Target made the top ten in six markets, but never ranked above seven.  Walmart averaged a rank of 2.5 across all markets.
  • Behind McDonald’s, only five other quick serve restaurants appeared in the top 10 in more than one market:  Subway (7), Jack In The Box (3), Whataburger (2), Sonic (2), Wendy’s (2).
  • Starbucks (9) appeared in the top ten twice as often as Dunkin’ Donuts (4).  In the markets where both businesses were active, Dunkin’ Donuts outranked Starbucks 75% of the time.
  • Walgreens (5) had more appearances in the top 10 than CVS (4), but CVS ranked higher 100% of the time when both companies were in the same market




How Much Will it Cost You?  Nothing.


In our quest to make location analytics accessible to everyone, we are offering Placed Panels as a free service.  While we plan to charge for premium features in the future, the base level of services will be offered for free.  The only cost you will incur is the cost of incentivizing panelists (recommended, but not required).



Get Started Today!


Create an account and start setting up your panel today at:


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