Location is a powerful data metric; it can tell a lot about both user behavior and the places at which those users reside. This is why businesses make it no secret that they track their users’ locations one way or another to make important decisions. On the surface, location analytics may seem like an invasion of privacy, and there are legitimate concerns about how and why the location of a user may be tracked. That being said, most people at this point are used to being tracked in some form; after all, GPS and basic radius-targeting is vital to the functionality of many apps out there, including all the personalized ads you see.
To get a basic idea of just how powerful the GPS and location analytics can be, this week I decided to perform a data mapping exercise using the handy tool Google Maps.
Data Mapping with Google Maps
Most are aware that with Google Maps, businesses and attractions are marked, labeled, and searchable, allowing you to find what you are looking for and how to get there. If Google is tracking your location, you can even search “[category of interest] near me” and Google will mark all of those places under that category within a certain mile radius from your location. But did you know that you can also create your own custom maps with your own selected places, layers, filters, and markings? With the ‘My Maps’ feature, you can tailor the area of your interest to what matters to you, your business, or your shareholders. Creating such custom maps can also be very useful for more specified geolocation marketing.[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=1_DE38hiINTLrpD9eXpXCvt7mhpsBZdY&ehbc=2E312F&w=640&h=480]
This map includes my favorite places in the Greater Danbury Area (I live in nearby New Milford). I decided to confine this area to Danbury and parts of Bethel and Brookfield. I created layers for each category: restaurants, shopping, and attractions. Additionally, the markers have different assigned color labels; the dark blue color indicates chain restaurants and shopping (e.g. Olive Garden, Macy’s), while the dark red color indicates unique, mostly mom-and-pop experiences. Some exceptions are the shopping chain Primark being red because Primark is fairly unique to Danbury given that there are very few of them in the United States. The purple color highlights the attractions layer for unique experiences in the area, including the Danbury Fair Mall, Ives Concert Park, and Blue Jay Orchards.
Of course, this list does not contain every single fun and unique place in the area; there are probably many more that I didn’t include. Instead, these are the selected places I know about and have experienced and liked.
By creating my own custom map with different layers and filters, I was able to create a handy guide to the area of my choosing with targeted areas of interest. By mapping out the data like such, businesses can leverage the information for more strategized and targeted marketing, reaching out to those who are more likely to be leads to their products or services.