Pay-per-visit mobile ad model uses AI to predict store visitation

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UK-based location-data platform Blis is introducing a predictive ad model that will charge advertisers exclusively on a pay-per-visit basis. What that means is that advertisers will pay only for customers (or potential customers) that visit their business locations.

It’s called “Blis Futures” and uses AI and audience modeling based on historical visitation patterns. A week ago, New York-based xAd introduced something similar, offering a cost-per-visit model that only charges brands and enterprises if customers walk through the door.

Beverage brand Stella Artois is the first company to run a campaign with Blis Futures, to generate foot traffic for local pubs. Blis VP Gil Larsen said the company was pleased with the test run so far. Larsen also provided email responses to some questions I asked about the product and its capabilities.

What was the genesis of this product? Why did you develop it?

At Blis, connecting the gap between what consumers do online and in the real world is a crucial part of our mission. We feel that Futures is the next phase of this journey, not just understanding where consumers are and where they have been but where they are going to go. In terms of the timing, as with any new product, Futures went through a comprehensive testing phase. We wanted to make sure we were confident in our tech, and now that we have Stella on board, who are as excited about the product as we are, the timing for an announcement seemed right.

What enables you to feel confident that you can charge on a CPV basis?

Blis Futures will charge advertisers based on successful conversions only. This means that customers who have been targeted by Blis and have gone into a store will be deemed as a “successful conversion.” Consumers must have been targeted by Blis for them to be deemed a successful conversion. We do this by collecting the IDs of targeted devices and can check if they visit a target location within our seven-day “listening” period. That said, it’s all opt-in device IDs, meaning you have to have your location services turned on and opt in to share your location within the specific app.

How is incremental lift being measured?

As a standard, our Futures measurement is based on all visits to store post-ad exposure, however, we are technically able to measure incremental uplift by using the control group, A/B testing to truly understand new customers. If a client requires incremental uplift, today we can use our proprietary retargeting technology to exclude anyone who has been in the exact location within the past seven days (this time period can be increased if requested).

What are the data inputs into the location predictions?

The first phase is to run the CPM portion of the campaign in order to allow the AI to understand and define the targeting setup that drives optimal footfall results. This can include any factor that Blis can track and use to optimize from key factors such as Audience, past location behavior, age/gender through to the more standard factors like Time/Device type/Publishers.

Once we have run the CPM portion of the campaign, we will then be able to feed back to our clients the Audiences which we will be optimizing the remainder of the campaign toward to drive optimum visitation/conversation rates.

Can people buy specific categories of visitors or audiences on a CPV basis? In other words, can I select women aged 20–35 ?

No — we wouldn’t sell audiences modes on a CPV basis. We run the campaign on a CPM basis based on a percentage of the overall campaign, and we tell the client what audiences are best converting, after which we can discuss optimization toward these audiences. Blis do, however, have audience packs which are sold on a CPM basis.

How do people make these buys, directly from Blis or through third parties?

Futures is a brand-new solution and is based entirely on Blis’s own proprietary technology and solutions.

Is this data being syndicated or distributed to DMPs/exchanges?

The answer is no for Futures.

Is the pricing per visit variable (by category, location or audience)? Can all advertisers participate or are minimums/thresholds required?

This depends entirely on the brief/client objective, as well as the product being advertised — participation and pricing is dependent on whether this is suitable for a CPV campaign.

What types of advertisers is this best suited for?

Typically, businesses for whom bricks and mortar is a crucial element of their business are ideally suited to Blis’s solutions. As an example, retail is dependent on customers shopping in-store, not just online. Blis Futures targets people who are highly likely to be interested in going to a specific location based on their historical content consumption behaviour, therefore adding value to the user experience and encouraging customers to shop in-store. This is similarly applicable to CPG (FMCG) [consumer packaged goods (fast moving consumer goods)] and QSR [quick service restaurants].

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.


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