Amy is Product Director at Blis and is responsible for high level product strategy and development alongside the release of new revenue streams and products into the market.
Amy leads her team to achieve goals, surpass expectations and push boundaries. She is constantly looking for new ways of delivering Blis’ vision: To provide Blis customers with the best technology, the highest levels of innovation and outstanding customer service.
As one of the original Blis employees, Amy has grown her career over the last few years from an entry level role in partner relationships through to heading up both Operations and Product sequentially.
Her experience working in Operations means than Amy has a thorough understanding of the RTB landscape from all angles; from publishers, SSPs, DSPs through to 3rd party data providers.
Outside of work, Amy enjoys music, literature, competitive sports and travelling. She graduated from Bath University with an BA in Modern Languages and enjoys any opportunity she has to use them.
Hi, I’m Amy Fox, I run Product at Blis and this is our Tech Talk.
Blis is a leading global location-powered advertising & analytics partner, using location data to help brands understand, reach and engage consumers globally, mapping real-world consumer behaviour to deliver measurable results.
I’ve been in my role for 4 years and at Blis for nearly 10. I’ve seen us grow from a start-up of 10 employees in a small London office, to where we are today, with over 200 staff spread across 5 continents.
I oversee both product development and product marketing at Blis and we work together with a wider engineering team to bring new product innovations through from ideation to launch.
There are a host of location-powered opportunities in the adtech market for brands and agencies to choose from, ranging from analytics solutions through to media activation opportunities.
However, the challenge in the location intelligence space, in particular, is that not all location data is created equal and not all players have the right technology to avoid the pitfalls of bad location.
But why is this such an impactful and relevant issue?
Well, when looking at how hyper-local data can help an advertising strategy, understanding both the accuracy and the precision of the data being used is key. For example, a consumer can be working out in a gym, but bad location data could place them seemingly in a McDonalds 200m down the street – grossly misrepresenting the audience that a brand is trying to profile and target.
At Blis, we solve that problem for our clients by ensuring we have built the best-in-market technology to combat and remove bad location data before it is used to build our audiences.
The widespread scale of bad location data will often surprise our clients. To bring this to life a bit, in the US market we flag up to 60% of location data we see coming into our platform everyday, as suspicious. That equates to millions of impressions and a very significant amount of potentially wasted media spend.
So what does this bad location data look like?
GPS data is highly regarded as the most reliable location signal, because it is sourced directly from the GPS chip in a phone’s hardware and can be accurate up to 5 metres – the same data used by your maps or uber apps.
GPS data comes in the form of latitude and longitude coordinates. Each extra decimal place in a set of lat/longs is equivalent to an additional 10m in accuracy and best practice is to use lat/longs that have 4 or more decimal points (accurate to around 11 metres). Some publishers ’round up’ lat/longs, which, in fact, reduces their precision.
There are other inconsistencies that are the hallmarks of bad location data, some examples of these could be:
Lat/long signals that correspond perfectly with points known to be centroids used by the large IP-to-location databases.
Lat/long signals that form suspicious grid-like patterns when mapped out across a city or country.
And lat/long points that see an unreasonably high volume of data trafficking through them, often a single square meter seeing millions of impressions a day.
At Blis, we ensure that we tackle bad location data head on. We have developed a proprietary technology called Smart Pin that acts as our first line of defence.
This is built to detect inaccurate, imprecise and fraudulent location data.
GPS data coming from Blis’ location data partnerships is vast. However, a large proportion of this data is of low or fraudulent quality and the absence of filtering would lead to incorrect location profiling.
Smart Pin consists of multiple categories of statistical algorithms that detect unusual patterns in location signals (similar to the patterns I described previously).
On average, the algorithm rejects 80% of all location signals, with the remaining 20% passing as verified and usable location data.
Additionally we have invested in a secondary technology called Smart Scale, that can associate precise location coordinates to users on public WiFi hotspots. The machine learning algorithms that underpin Smart Scale amplifies our location data 4x and provides new devices and location signals for the platform at a significant scale.
We are then able to use this data to bring an exciting suite of location rooted targeting products to our clients. And we’ve been doing this for years.
Blis was founded in 2004 by our CEO Greg Isbister and we have been putting location data at the heart of everything we do for 16 years now.
From as far back as 2010, in the early days of bluetooth and wifi technology, we have been building products with the aim of understanding consumer movement data and turning it into a valuable and addressable market for our clients.
We have continued to evolve and grow year on year from the development of our core Smart technology in 2014/15 through to our international expansion into Southeast Asia and the US adtech markets in 2017.
Today, Blis has over 200 employees and is privately held. We have 8 hub offices including our London headquarters and a dozen smaller offices globally, as well as a unique reseller strategy that enhances our global footprint, which means we can work with clients wherever they are in the world.
At Blis, we understand real world location behavior at scale better than anyone else. We go beyond small survey panels, siloed purchasing data, or models based on browsing behavior to see how people really behave.
Across hundreds of millions of devices, we see how often people go to the gym, go to the movies, who is shopping for a new car, and who enjoys a midnight McDonalds drive through.
We use this data to help the largest global and national brands across all verticals including Unilever, Samsung, McDonald’s, HSBC, Mercedes Benz and Peugeot (to name a few), to understand and reach their customers and, ultimately, find new and effective ways to bring them into stores.
We have won and been shortlisted for many industry awards globally for a range of efforts from campaign effectiveness through to marketing excellence at The Drum Awards, Campaign Awards & MMAs to name a few.
Our technology powers a suite of products that we bring to the market to help Clients across the entire media spectrum of planning, activation and measurement.
Our planning and analytics offering provides clients with an opportunity to hone and refine their advertising strategies by allowing them to both
Better understand and profile their own customers behaviour and to challenge and define how their competitors stack rank in the race to defend the loyalty of their competing customer base.
Across our activation offering, we can help our clients drive incremental sales or brand uplift by targeting customers or potential customer
When they are in proximity to specific locations or based on locations they have previously visited, taking into account regular patterns and habits
And lastly, in order to quality the ROI our targeting strategies are providing for our clients, we use a variety of attribution offerings
to provide visibility on footfall performance back into store complimented with in-store sales lift or brand studies.
Blis stands out in a crowded market for three main reasons. Our scale and accuracy, our transparency and our experience as a tried and tested partner.
Our proprietary Smart Platform technologies, Smart Pin & Smart Scale, allow us to bring best-in-market products to our clients with unmatched accuracy and scale with a yearly reach of approximately 1 billion unique devices – 1/7th of the world’s population.
We’re the only company in our industry to offer transparency throughout our business – from GDPR and CCPA adherence to platform access for our clients to monitor .
And last but not least, with our experience running successful campaigns for over 2,500 advertisers across 47 markets around the world, our clients trust the combination of our technology and our strategic expertise to drive results.
Welcome to the Blis Platform. Our initial portal is designed to remind our clients of all of the different ways that we can help them across our suite of products from:
Blis Analytics – aimed at empowering our clients to tell useful stories with actionable insights
Blis Activation – allowing clients to run campaigns with tailored location targeting in order to driving results
Blis Attribution – Giving our clients the tools to accurately measure their campaign impact with in-depth analytics and reporting
But underpinning all of these, and sitting at the heart of our product offering, is the Blis Smart Platform, allowing our clients to truly lift the hood and understand the value of our proprietary technology. So let’s start by diving in here.
This is the UI that sits on top of our Smart Pin technology.
Here, we’re showing the last 24 hours of data for the USA and displaying the average number of location events that are passing our various Smart Pin tests.
For yesterday’s data, we’re seeing a pass rate of only 63%. That leaves 37% of location data coming into our system being flagged as poor quality , effectively equating to 700 million potentially wasted impressions.
The chart here, on the right hand side, allows you to explore which failed tests are contributing the largest proportion – so in this case – you can see that the Centroid test is making up over 35% of failures. Using the interactive platform you can further explore exactly what these test’s mean and see visual examples of what we’re trying to look out for. Here – you can see the grid patterns being drawn by bad data.
As this dataset is changing daily, so do all of these charts and it is key for us to ensure our clients are able to access Smart Pin at any time they like to ensure they have full confidence in how effective our technology truly is.
Now moving on to our Smart Scale UI. As a reminder, Smart Scale is a second proprietary technology that we have built that associates precise location coordinates to users on public WiFi hotspots. Let’s see this in practise.
Using the tool – you can search for any location of interest – let’s use McDonalds on 3rd Avenue in NY. Once here – you can essentially ask a question of Smart Scale – when looking at this highlighted area (draw circle) how many public Wifi hotspots did we see yesterday. We have found 6. This one falls inside McDonald – and by hovering over this – you can see the WiFi Ip address that we’ve associated with the store. All of these Wifi points can then be clicked on – to show all of the individual GPS devices we were able to find yesterday – sending us events from this IP address. In this case we saw 37.
The data produced by Smart Scale is dynamic and self correcting over time and so is able to account for any changes in WiFi allocation. This keeps Smart Scale producing the most accurate location targeting opportunities in the market.
The rest of our platform allows our clients to monitor and explore the work we are doing on their behalf.
The can dive into any of the analytics reports that we are running to monitor the behaviour of their in store customers – even allowing them to see our visual charts highlighting the competitive crossover that their brand sees.
In Activation they can keep an eye on the delivery of their campaigns, how they are pacing over time and high level performance metric they are tracking against.
And then for a better view across our attribution solutions clients can use out in depth footfall reporting to measure how effecting their campaigns have been at driving customers into stores – and how that looks in terms of incremental new customers and increased sales.
Being able to understand the direct impact that a Blis advertising campaign has is key to quantifying the value & ROI of a brand’s media spend strategies – so this is something that we have a heavy focus on.
Whether a campaign’s KPI is aiming to increase general brand awareness or perhaps more specifically aimed at driving incremental footfall visits into their stores, we have the right technology or partnerships in place to provide this for our clients.
Some examples we have of how accurate location data has had a direct impact on campaign success are:
Conversion rates significantly higher for location powered ad strategies than pure browser data. We have seen results showing that when profiling a ‘movie goer’ based on consumers we actually see going to a cinema, as opposed to those merely visiting film related websites, we see an 8 fold increase in successful conversions.
The same trend goes for incorporating competitor targeting strategies into a campaign – leading to consumers being 23% more likely to change their behaviour when targeted based on their location behaviour.
We are a location specialist, not a generalist. We don’t work in the walled garden space – so we don’t serve ads on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest – but we do have broad representation across the rest of the ecosystem.
The location industry, as a whole, is vulnerable to wider initiatives from both a privacy perspective, like the GDPA and CCPA regulations in the EU and California respectively, but also from the data sharing restrictions of the core tech platform such as Google and Apple.
Over the years at Blis, we have focused on ensuring our product and technology stack are built flexibly and we ensure our tech and development process is agile and adaptable in order to allow us to easily evolve in the face of change.
If you look at the MarTech stack, Blis sits across Digital Advertising, Analytics and Measurement [show slide below], however, it may also be useful to look at the mobile lumascape. Here, we sit under location data. Additionally, we have our own specialist DSP- so we also fit in this box.
We operate primarily on a CPM or (Cost per 1000 Impressions) model and optimise for transparency.
Additionally, clients can work with us in whichever way best suits their trading needs, via our owned and operated Blis DSP or programmatically via their own trading teams and various DSP partners.
Across our own DSP, we provide a fully managed offering, giving clients complete transparency and control over how they use our services, but doing all the operational heavy-lifting with our team of industry experts.
We are nimble in onboarding new clients, and present in over 40 markets, so we can onboard in local time zones.
Local sales and client services are the key customer-facing teams who craft, set up and deliver best-in-market campaigns on the behalf of our clients.
We get excellent feedback from our clients about our local teams across the world and we pride ourselves in marking the onboarding and delivery process for any client as seamless as can be.