Quick Guide to Boost Your Understanding of Location-Based Advertising

Amrita Hemdev
By Amrita Hemdev
October 23, 2019

The advertising industry is evolving rapidly, and as the marketplace and related technology grows, so does its vocabulary.

What is location-based advertising?

According to the IAB, location-based advertising uses data about a consumer’s geographic location in order to plan and execute highly relevant advertising campaigns. By accessing location data, brands can deliver more targeted messages. This data is captured only when a consumer specifically allows location data on his or her mobile device to be shared with a publisher or advertiser.

The Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence’s Local Committee of IAB recently looked more closely at the language specific to location-based advertising and launched a new glossary of terms that are unique and distinct to location-based advertising. Here is a quick compilation highlighting some of the relevant terms and concepts that brands and marketers should know to effectively and intelligently consider and invest in location-based advertising campaigns. 


This glossary of location-based advertising terms and acronyms will have you navigating the advertising world like a pro.


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AOI: Stands for Area of Interest, denoting the accurate boundary around a physical entity.

Location vs. Place: Location is typically highly specific and defined by latitude and longitude, denoting a particular physical geography. Place describes a spatial boundary with associated metadata/attributes.

Location-Based Audiences: Audience segments created on the basis of a user’s spatial/offline behavior—that is, the places they visit in the physical world.

POI: Short for Place of Interest or Point of Interest. Advertisers may designate a location where their target audience congregates as a POI.





Cookie: A small piece of information (i.e., program code) that is stored on a browser for the purpose of identifying that browser during audience activity and between visits or sessions. Cookies are typically set to expire. Some cookies are intended to remain on the browser temporarily (e.g., during a session) and some are persistent in that they are intended to be retained for longer periods.

GPS: Short for Global Positioning System, GPS uses satellite signals to determine a device’s particular physical location. When a user’s mobile device requests new GPS lat/long coordinates, the device receives the signal from one of 24 satellites orbiting the Earth.

IP Derived/IP Address

An IP address is the specific, unique internet protocol number given to every web-enabled object like a web server. IP-derived data is information gleaned from an IP address and associated internet behavior.

Location Hotspots: A pinpointed location, like a wireless internet router, that can also serve as a high-interest location for an advertiser.

SDK: Short for Software Development Kit. In the parlance of mobile ad tech, an advertising partner that integrates with an app via SDK will likely be able to collect more accurate location data than one connected through other means, like an Application Programming Interface (API). This is because, when a user grants permission to an app, SDKs are able to request location data points from the device’s operating system more frequently, within reason. If an SDK requests location too frequently, that can cause higher-than-normal drain to batteries.

Trilateration: The practice of using data collected from disparate points to determine a central location. For example, cell phone data from different towers can be trilaterated to determine the device’s more specific location.

Wi-Fi: A wireless technology standard typically used to connect mobile devices to the internet. Wi-Fi can be used to determine location by matching known Wi-Fi locations to the Wi-Fi router providing the signal (e.g., someone connecting to Wi-Fi known to be at a local coffee house location is likely at that coffee house).

Background Data: Location data collected by an app or SDK while the app is not actively running.

Bidstream: Location data that is received by listening to bids on open exchanges or supply-side platforms (SSPs).

Check-ins: An activity undertaken by someone to confirm that they are in a specific location.

First-, Second-, Third-party Data: In today’s public policy climate, how first-, second-, and third-party data are defined and accounted for will likely be impacted by both state and federal legislation. Learn more about first-, second-, and third-party data here

Foreground Data: Location data that is collected by an app or SDK only when the app is open and running.

Near-Field Communications (NFC): Generic term for communications protocols (like Bluetooth) that different devices may use to send data back and forth between each other.

Panel Data (panel and app-based survey data): Opt-in mobile panels and other data from consumer-installed apps. They can be used to gain additional purchase-related behaviors. Surveys are particularly adept at capturing consumer mood, affinity, and spending behaviors, and provide marketers with a way to obtain direct feedback about interactions in the store. This approach also has the benefit of understanding when a consumer visited a store but did not complete a purchase.

Place Data: Information that highlights both the physical, geographic location and its particular characteristics.

Transaction Data: Information and data sets related to transactions, commerce-related or otherwise.

Truth Sets: A superset of transaction data that may include actual foot traffic or some other proxy for total sales or activity at a given place.





Geoconquesting: Marketing or advertising based on serving ads to audiences who have visited locations in the past or when consumers are within proximity to a competitor.

Geofencing: A method of assigning reported location from a mobile device to a specific place. 

Geotargeting: Marketing or advertising based on or around an audience’s real-time geographic location. Learn more about the differences between geotargeting and geofencing in this blog post

Historical Targeting: The delivery of ads to specific individuals based on data they generated in the past.

Real-time Targeting: In advertising, it’s the process of delivering ads to someone based on in-the-moment, current signals coming in.

Retargeting: For the purposes of location-based marketing, retargeting refers to the delivery of ads based on a particular action a consumer has specifically undertaken at a physical location. For example, if a consumer visited a shoe store, s/he will then later be served ads featuring content of that retailer as they use different websites and apps.





Location Hygiene: The practice of sorting through location data sets to more clearly determine key signals, and to determine the accuracy/insights of the location and place data. Generally, systems collect a variety of data from a variety of sources. In cases where there is no direct control over data collection or fraudulent behavior, the possibility exists of that data not being trustworthy. Hygiene filters are applied to filter out bad/unwanted location data.

Machine-Based Measures: Data that specifically comes from hardware or software.

People-Based Measures: Data that specifically comes from an individual or group of people.

Place Accuracy: The correctness or exactness of place-specific data sets.

Behavioral Analysis: The use of raw data to bucket users into specific buckets of behavior.

Cross-Platform Attribution: Solutions that enable advertisers and their partners to increase visibility into the impact of their campaigns across different devices, and not just of browser-based digital placements. It is the ability to credit all activity from a campaign to the single campaign, regardless of the device on which that activity took place.

Dwell Time: Dwell time, or time spent, is generally the amount of elapsed time from the initiation of a visit to a particular location or place to the last audience activity associated with that visit. Dwell time can be reported on the basis of device sensor data, registration, or panel participation, but in concept should represent the activity of a single user for a single access.

Foot Traffic Lift: Foot traffic lift studies correlate exposure to an advertising campaign to physical world “foot traffic” behavior (e.g., did the exposed device later visit the desired location(s)).

Footfall Report: The measurement of the number of people who physically were at a particular location over a set period of time, along with information on where they went in that location and how long they spent there, among other noted variables.





Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The Federal Trade Commission is a U.S. federal government agency charged with overseeing and enforcing consumer-centric laws such as COPPA, and ensuring fair and competitive business practices.

Online Privacy: The concept of whether behaviors and activity people undertake on the internet and with digital devices should be known about by third parties or not.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII): Information included in any data set that allows users of the data to resolve the real-world identity of the data subject.

Didn’t find the term you were searching for? No worries — the ZypMedia team is ready to help you with your digital advertising questions and strategies. Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter to stay up to date on the latest digital advertising trends in this quickly changing industry.



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Amrita Hemdev

Amrita is an inbound marketer. She studied marketing and project management at UC Berkeley and proceeded to work in a fast-paced, digital advertising tech startup, with a goal of increasing brand awareness. She is currently the Content Marketing Specialist at ZypMedia. Passionate about digital marketing and having six years of experience in this field, she also started her digital marketing and creative agency, Sociato, based in India.