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xAd today launched a new product called Footprints to better measure and visualize traffic (of the analog variety). This will be a tool for marketers to better research foot traffic patterns and make informed decisions about localized ad targeting strategies.

The company positions Footprints as a tool for marketers to view real time mobile visits at more than 14 million U.S. businesses. This will happen to the tune of 30 million local business visits per day, which will fuel 1.5 billion daily location-aware ad requests.

The time for this is right. In fact, this was a big theme at our recent Leading in Local conference in Atlanta. Given that 94 percent of U.S. retail spending still happens offline, how can we utilize mobile devices and embedded sensors to bring online-style analytics (i.e. traffic) to the real world?

In that sense, xAd’s Footprints is reminiscent of my interview on day 3 of the conference with LBMA President Asif Kahn. He characterized the developing art of location tracking as the new “cookie” for the real world. xAd in fact uses similar phrasing in today’s launch of Footprints:

As consumers go about their day traveling from one place to another, they engage with their phones regularly. Through this engagement, they often share their device location information with their favorite sites and applications. This data exchange normally occurs in an effort to make their mobile experiences more efficient or relevant to what they may be doing at any given time or place. It is through this anonymized location data that a product like Footprints™ is possible, essentially turning a device’s location data into a new kind of digital cookie.

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The ways this is used by marketers will evolve. For now it appears to be a powerful tool, similar in some ways to the offline tracking tools we covered in our Attribution white paper. Those include PlaceIQ’s Place Visit Rate, Placed’s Panel approach and Verve’s Foot Traffic Index.

Footprints of course has many unique attributes to differentiate it from those offerings, but its generally speaking a continuation of the utilization of location data to devise more informed location based ad campaigns. This is the “big data meets local” trend we continue to track.

Speaking of which, we’ll soon have the chance to do a deeper dive with our friends at xAd and report back about Footprint’s product-level attributes. Meanwhile, check out the product page here and video below.

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