Big Data

How Factual’s location data comes in handy for startups Emu & Shopular (exclusive)

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If you’ve got big data to sell, you’re in luck. Companies want to smarten up for their own operations and enhance their applications to make them more relevant. And location data in particular looks more and more useful all the time.

Factual maintains heaps of current data about what exists where in the world. It believes location data can enable context and personalization, especially when it’s used to serve up content on mobile devices. And more companies are agreeing with that premise.

Microsoft’s Bing and Yelp have been stepping up their use of Factual’s data on foreign countries. But startups like Emu and Shopular have gotten hip to the data, too.

Shopular now relies on Los Angeles-based Factual to understand where consumers are before surfacing push notifications containing deals and coupons. Factual data plays a crucial role in Emu, too, by providing the names and areas of specific spots where people can meet when they communicate on Emu’s messaging app.

“Emu uses Factual as its brain,” Emu co-founder and chief executive Gummi Haf said in an interview with VentureBeat.

“It’s the information that powers the Emu artificial intelligence technology to kind of be able to recognize these places.”

Factual’s purpose in life, Shopular co-founder Tommy Tsai told VentureBeat, is delivering high-quality, up-to-date location information, and that’s why his startup selected it. Such data is critical for Shopular, he said.

It’s one thing for companies to integrate accurate data into their applications. But perhaps more fascinating uses could become possible when companies take location data into consideration before sending out advertisements. That’s not a full-on trend yet, but it could become more common over time, as companies become more confident that where people are with their mobile phones could indicate what sorts of people they are.

Over time, location data could transform into a means for marketing dollars to go further and lead to more sales. Which is why it could very well come up in conversation during our DataBeat conference in San Francisco in three weeks, where we’ll be talking about how big data can foster growth.

Factual already incorporates location information into services that can be used for targeting consumers. Such tools stand to become more popular in the years to come.

For Factual founder and chief executive Gil Elbaz, location could represent the next chapter of narrowly tailored ad delivery. Elbaz co-founded a company called Applied Semantics, which Google bought in 2003 and turned into online ad targeting giant AdSense. Elbaz stayed on at Google for four years.

“Google was a fantastic experience,” Elbaz told VentureBeat earlier this year. “But I wanted to build another data company to tackle larger problems, and that large problem that I see is that personalization and context, especially in mobile.

“People expect not just an answer but the right answer. They expect it to be personalized based on who they are, what they’re thinking at that moment in time, and what they want.”

And so, Factual was born.

Should companies decide to take location into account in their quest to personalize advertisements, Factual can help. Elbaz said Factual can make sense of the location data coming from phones and make conclusions about where people live, work, spend their evenings, travel on vacation, buy coffee, and so on.

“We’re happy being the enabler, somewhat quietly,” Elbaz said.

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