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Location Sciences brings big data to bear on consumer movements

Location Sciences has thirty billion data points it can access and is adding two billion more every month
Monitoring 5mln mobiles to check on spending patterns

Black Friday is approaching and retailers will be keen to maximise sales with highly targeted advertising throughout the weekend-long bargain fest.

That will make it an equally busy time for Location Sciences Group PLC (LON:LSAI).

WATCH: Location Sciences Group offering new 'Verify' solution to tackle advertising fraud

The AIM-listed business has built a platform that gives advertisers a whole range of data on how effective an ad has been in getting people into shops.

Products cover out of home ads (posters), digital promotions on smartphones and tablets, raw data on consumer movements or reports with insights and analysis.

Kitchen maker Wren, for example, uses it to link footfall at its stores with its marketing activity.

Wren was one of the first high street names to sign for the platform.

In October, location planning giant CACI also signed a twelve-month contract to help clients find the best sites for new premises.

Agencies, too, are using the platform.

Talon, the UK’s largest out-of-home/ poster ad planning agency, has just agreed on a two-year contract.

Data crunch

Mark Slade, Location Sciences’ chief executive, says it is at the cutting edge of the location data and insights industry, something which would not have been possible 3-4 years ago due to the prohibitive cost of processing data.

But with cloud-based servers and virtual networks, those costs have tumbled.

Location Sciences’ platform analyses the location of millions of people through their mobile phones and crunches the data through cloud-based servers.

Next time you download an app and are asked permission for your position to be recorded, that is the information Location Sciences uses for its services.

Consent has to be given by the individual, hence the prompt, but in return, an app can usually be downloaded for free.

Location Sciences will pay the app owner for the information, which is then analysed and supplied to the advertiser or agency.

Thirty billion datapoints

At present, Location Sciences has thirty billion data points it can access and is adding two billion more every month from 5.3mln mobile phones.

That requires some serious number-crunching and Slade says artificial intelligence is at the heart of what it does.

“Our business is a combination of big data, processing power, analytics and machine learning/artificial intelligence,“ he says.

Indeed, the newness of the business means Location Sciences is probably the UK market leader, says Slade though he admits the whole concept is still in the fledgeling stages.

Identifying ad fraud

Slade, though, has global ambitions, not least for the Verify product that was launched in May.

This is designed to tackle the thorny issues of advertising fraud, which has burgeoned with growth in mobile phones and digital adverts.

Click-farms and bots to boost viewers among the most common forms and all told fraud is costing the industry US$50mln per day.

Verify uses machine learning and pattern recognition to detect instances of location fraud.

The product is a highly scalable platform with the potential for the global application that can be a real success and have a dramatic impact on revenues and profitability, Slade believes.

Sales on the up

Although the location data was part of the former Proxama, Location Sciences PLC is, in essence, a start-up and revenues are growing rapidly.

At September, the run rate was £70,000 per month with a target of £702,000 pencilled in for the full year.

Hitting that target will depend on how the Black Friday and Christmas periods pan out, but next year market forecasts are for surge upwards to more than £2.2mln.

After all the troubles that accompanied Proxama in recent years, some caution by investors is perhaps understandable.

Slade, though, says the disposal of most of that business has put it back on an even keel and if the growth comes through as he expects, a re-rating would seem inevitable.

The share price is a modest 0.24p, which values the group at about £5mln or just 2.3 times expected sales in 2019.

Big data in location space

A consolidation has been proposed to give the share price a more sensible base, a suggestion that presumably came from the experienced board, which includes CFO David Rae who has built and sold numerous businesses.

Location Sciences raised £412,000 for the launch of Verify but if the plans pan out as planned raising more should not be an issue.

Slade stays away from using artificial intelligence to describe what it does – “The buzzword at present” - but concedes it is the bedrock of the business.

“We are a real big data business in the location space.”

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