Placed combines location data with viewing habits and finds some funny things

Location analytics startup Placed has released a new report that ties the company’s fine-grained mobile-phone location data with a survey about users’ TV habits and interests. The findings are equal parts obvious, ironic and telling, but they’re all indicative of the future of polling.

In a report titled “Ratings to Retail – Fall TV 2013,” Placed asked more than 10,000 people who have downloaded its Panels app for tracking their whereabouts questions about how they consume television and what shows they’re excited about. It then tied that information back to location data around what businesses those people frequent.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • People who watch TV on mobile devices are more likely to visit electronics stores — and more likely to visit T-Mobile and Sprint stores than AT&T or Verizon Wireless stores.
  • ESPN viewers go to bars, taverns and auto repair shops; Disney viewers go to beauty and skin care stores, toy stores and tanning salons. Disney viewers also spend a lot more time at Toyota dealerships relative to other auto manufacturers.


  • People excited about the new Marvel Comics show “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” spend more time at movie theaters, toy stores and amusement parks.
  • NBC should be excited: Subscribers of all four major wireless providers prefer its programming to that of other broadcast networks.
  • “Survivor” fans live up to their stereotypes by frequenting sporting goods stores, gyms and nutrition stores; “The Biggest Loser” fans overindex for visits to restaurants and bakeries.


We’ve covered Placed before and cited its opportunity, along with platforms like Twitter, to seriously disrupt the world of market research. If they’ll let you, tracking where people are visiting, when and in what order is just a lot more accurate a way to gather data than is making unsolicited phone calls.

There’s an obvious privacy component to all this location-data collection, of course, but that’s a topic for another day. Still, it might be easier to stomach the idea of such personal data being in the hands of a company like Placed, which has vowed to keep it aggregate and anoymous, than in the hands of a broker like Acxiom that’s trying to gather as much about us personally as it can. There’s something cynical and inherently untrustworthy about anyone saying, essentially, “You’re gonna see ads regardless, so you might as well let us collect as much data about you as possible so you can see the right ones.”