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Placer.ai, a location analytics platform that serves companies with data around consumer foot-traffic, has raised $100 million in a series C round of funding, valuing the company at $1 billion.
The location intelligence industry was pegged as a $12 billion market last year, a figure that’s predicted to more than double in the coming years as businesses leverage big data insights to improve their bottom line. Founded in 2016, Placer.ai gives retailers, hospitality outlets, and similar companies data on their audience and the competition, with a view toward unlocking new business opportunities.
For example, businesses can glean accurate foot traffic counts and “dwell time,” allowing them to filter by time and day as well as customer segments. This can be useful for understanding how special promotions, events, or holidays impact trade. Or they can discover what Placer.ai calls “true trade areas,” that is, where customers actually live and work, which can help target marketing budgets at ideal customers. This can also be useful for real estate companies looking to figure out where to invest in new properties.
But where exactly, does Placer.ai get all this data from? Well, the company has partnerships in place with third-party mobile apps that provide location-based services, with Placer.ai receiving aggregated and anonymized data — meaning that personal identifiers are now shared with the company.
What’s going on
So how might a company use Placer.ai in the real world? Let’s say a retailer has two locations, and they’re looking to expand their presence to five outlets. Brick-and-mortar expansion is an expensive endeavor, one that involves commitments to leases, inventory, staffing, and more — getting decisions wrong isn’t an option.
Thus, the retailer might use Placer.ai to analyze existing stores to establish what is and isn’t currently working, look at where the competition is thriving, and ultimately identify where to set up shop. Afterwards, the marketing department can also use the data to develop strategies to drive visitors, while those responsible for business performance can garner insights to benchmark against the incumbents in the area.
“The power of the data rests in the fact that different functions across a company can find value in it,” Placer.ai cofounder and CEO Noam Ben-Zvi told VentureBeat. “The result is a unique capacity to help a business create a single perspective on what is really happening in brick-and-mortar retail.”
While foot traffic may have been less of a concern for retailers and hospitality during most of the pandemic as the world scurried to online alternatives, Ben-Zvi suggested that the past couple of years has actually benefited his company as it helped businesses understand the power of real-time data.
“The significant changes in consumer behavior and the speed at which these changes occur actually reinforced the value of the data,” Ben-Zvi said. “Professionals in retail, commercial real estate, and CPG (consumer packaged goods) had grown accustomed to information that had a long delay and was difficult to access, understand and utilize. The pandemic made it clear that the need for near real-time data that is reliable and accessible was a critical piece of the puzzle, not just during the pandemic, but moving forward as well. The shift has been substantial and where we expected the pandemic to dampen demand, it ultimately served as a major validation of the need for these insights.”
Since its formal launch back in 2018, Los Altos, California-based Placer.ai has amassed an impressive slate of clients, including commercial real estate services company JLL and U.S. membership warehouse club chain BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Prior to now, Placer.ai had raised around $66 million, and the company’s latest series C investment was led by entrepreneur Josh Buckley, with participation from a slew of investors including Array Ventures, WndrCo, Lachy Groom, MMC Technology Ventures, and Fifth Wall Ventures. Ben-Zvi said that Placer.ai will use its fresh cash injection to add myriad new data sets to the mix, including vehicle traffic, web traffic, purchase data, and planned construction.
“At its simplest, Placer is bringing reliability and visibility into data that in the past was inaccurate and inaccessible,” he explained. “By doing this, we help any business with a stake in the physical world to improve decision-making.”
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