Seattle-based Placed is an analytics service that ties consumers’ smartphone behavior to brand insights, helping companies understand how their customers shop in retail locations, and showcasing to developers how users behave in their apps. Today the company is launching Placed Affiliate, a way for developers to make money by sharing information about their users’ location-based data and behavior, if a user opts in have that information tracked.
The company originally targeted only developers, launching its Placed Analytics software development kit (SDK) for Android developers in June 2012. The platform helps developers understand how people use their apps, for example showing if people use an app in a specific location, like a coffee shop, so they can tailor ads and in-app features. It also lets developers track mobile website browsing habits.
In October 2012 Placed branched out of targeting just developers, launching its Placed Panels market research tool that tracks the behavior of opted-in panelists, and is aimed at market researchers, publishers, and brands. Through Placed Panels brands, whether big box retailers or businesses with a large customer base, get customers to sign up online, and then they install the co-branded Panels app for iOS or Android. After it’s installed, the app tracks users’ location data, sending that back to the brand and letting them segment their customer lists, for example tracking frequent customers’ location data vs. occasional customers.
Both the Placed analytics feature and Panels product were free for companies, with the plan to eventually charge for premium reports. Today the company is debuting Placed Affiliate, which lets developers opt-in to share their users’ location-based behavior, and gives Placed a way to charge brands for premium data reports. Using Placed Affiliate, developers can allow users to opt in to have their locations tracked while using the app, and then that data would be sent to Placed so they can add it to the existing data they have from the Placed Panels. It’s basically the existing Placed analytics service, but instead of using the insights for their own benefit, it means developers can sell that data to Placed and provide a new app monetization channel.
David Shim, Placed’s founder and CEO, said Placed Affiliate is a way for developers to monetize outside of advertisements or in-app upgrades. They’ve been testing the product with two apps, and said during the pilot test one app with around 100,000 monthly active users earned $2,500 in the first 30 days. So far they’re tracking 30 million locations on a daily basis, which will go up exponentially as they start accepting more developers into the program. Developers are paid for the first seven days of tracking data, and then every 30 days after that, though Shim didn’t specify exactly how much developers are paid.
“There’s only a limited amount of space that you have in the app to actually display ads, there’s a limited amount of opportunity to do in-app purchases,” Shim said in an interview. “We’re saying…here’s another channel that doesn’t interfere with your existing experience, doesn’t actually impact the in-app experience at all, and in exchange what we’re going to do is as we measure location data we will pay you a set revenue amount.”
Any app that tracks location data is eligible to participate, and it’s Placed policy that apps must have location permissions in their app, aka asking users if it’s okay to track their location when they open the app, and they must either add an opt-in message to their existing location permission, or add in a new one asking users if the app can track their location data and send that back to Placed.
Placed will use all of this data to sell premium reports on Placed Panels. For example right now a company might be tracking their own customers’ location data, and finding that 10 percent of customers visit a Starbucks on any given day. But they might want to know how that compares to other companies or the general population. So Placed will aggregate data from the apps it’s tracking and offer that data to brands, for example showing that on average, three percent of app users visit Starbucks every day. Whether users will be amenable to sharing their location data is questionable, but as long as it’s anonymous and they’re sharing their location for the purpose of the app anyway, Placed could have a new way to gain insights while helping developers generate revenue.