Snapchat Acquires Location-Based Data Company to Ramp Up Mobile Measurement

Placed connects digital ads to foot traffic

Consumers opt in to Placed's panels that track their location in exchange for money. Source: Getty Images
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Snapchat has bought advertising data player Placed as the app builds out an ad-tech stack to track offline conversions from digital ads.

Placed is a location-focused company that uses opt-in mobile panels to track foot traffic to stores for brands. As of February 2016, the company was collecting anonymous data about consumers’ whereabouts from 600 million locations every day and has previously equipped agencies including Essence, DigitasLBi and Horizon Media with in-store insights.

According to Snapchat, Seattle-based Placed will continue to work independently while founder and CEO David Shim will report to Snap’s CSO Imran Khan. Per a statement, the two companies will separate advertiser data by putting data sharing, privacy and security guidelines in place.

The move builds on Snap to Store, the app’s proprietary offering that marketers including 7-Eleven and Wendy’s have used to analyze the number of consumers who visited a store within a week of seeing a Snapchat ad. The app also has partnerships with more than a dozen measurement and data companies to track additional stats. The acquisition is Snapchat’s second in two weeks. The company also recently acquired drone-making startup Ctrl Me Robotics for its hardware expertise. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Connecting online with offline is a problem that the advertising ecosystem has been working toward solving for a long time, and we share that goal,” Snapchat said in a statement. “People use apps like Snapchat when they are out in the real world—not just when they are sitting behind a computer screen. Progress in this area will drive amazing results for advertisers and our community.” The app claims its location-based geofilters are viewed more than 1 billion times a day, and commissioned research from Greenberg Strategy found that 80 percent of Snapchatters use the app while they’re at restaurants. Another 66 percent use the app at shopping malls.

For Placed, the move is the latest example of how location-based services are hot acquisition targets. Snapchat also works with Foursquare, one of Placed’s competitors, to pinpoint the exact locations where advertisers buy geofilter ads, though Placed’s expertise is more in measurement, while Foursquare specializes in location mapping.

Shim announced the acquisition in a blog post this afternoon. “Placed’s goal continues to be the adoption of a common yardstick that can measure the offline effectiveness of advertising across multiple platforms and publishers,” he wrote. “Together, we believe we can drive much better results for advertisers and publishers.”

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.