The Skyhook Context Accelerator: Made of Ninja Unicorns

Oct 24, 2014   

Posted by Ashley Osgood

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Okay, maybe not really. But with the release of Skyhook Context last month, this new platform that combines Skyhook’s rich location data with a layer of contextual information is as close to ninja unicorns for advertisers, apps, and devices as you can get. That, and it was precisely the answer we got when we sat down with the Skyhook Product Team to shed some more insights behind developing the product and what makes it tick. 

So here's how our customers can now deliver personalized, more relevant content and dynamic experiences to mobile users:

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What inspired you to build Context?

A: We started out with a location platform and the analytical know-how. The real goal was to deliver this back to developers in a way that would be actionable and really change the way they work and the way they design their apps and the way they interact with their users. Context is the logical extension and next layer on location. We have been industry leaders in providing location as a utility for a long time. The next step for us was to start building intelligence on top of that location, because we are the people that understand location best. 

We have been talking about context for a long time, why now?

A: We are a big data company with a lot of smart people who are very excited about exploring data and seeing what kind of insights we can derive from it. We have been thinking for some time about how to interpret location data and add value for our customers. It was a combination of factors that made us decide that now was the right time to turn all of these ideas into a tangible product.

Mobile apps and mobile advertisers are becoming much more sophisticated, and mobile users are shifting more of their life to their mobile device. If you want to engage with the richest possible experience for most users, mobile is the place to do it. And the way to do it is by understanding and adapting to their real world context. Mobile advertising budgets have gone up dramatically and users have been shifting more of their attention from online, radio and TV to mobile.

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Apps that started out primarily as web sites are being used more primarily on mobile devices. There is stiffer competition between apps, higher expectations for user experience, and greater demands from advertisers trying to reach the right audience at the right time. So the apps that do the best job of delivering a richly contextualized experience to their users will be the ones that are the most downloaded, the most used and the most financially successful.

How is Skyhook Context technically superior to other solutions out there?

A: The key is the fact that we have turned our location expertise to delivering on the promise of infinite geofencing and the potential of location-based behavioral analysis. No one else in the field is truly an expert at client-side positioning and mobile location data analysis. And we have lived and breathed both of those since Skyhook’s inception. And the result is that our Infinite Geofencing is the simplest, most scalable solution that gives applications what they have always wanted from geofencing. Our Personas open up a really unique new front for audience segmentation and targeting because they are based on real world mobile behavior.

What was the mission?

A: Our mission was to take these very complicated technical problems and solve them in a way that made them as simple as possible for developers. On the geofencing side we handled all the complication that was getting in the way of developers executing on geofencing. We went out and got the venue data, curated it, added geometries, and we used our proprietary tiling schemes to remove the limits on the number and extent of geofences. But from the standpoint of a developer, it just works.

On the Personas side we leveraged that same expertise to clean and improve location data and build strong inferences from the highest quality set of mobile user location and venue data. Once again we take on all of the complications so our customers don't have to.Personas

What were your hopes for CA?

A: My hope was to change the way that developers think about and use location in their apps by delivering richer information and the tool to make their relationship with their user more interactive and richly contextual.

Who do you want to use it?

A: There are a number of compelling use cases for apps, but really any app that could benefit from understanding the real world context of their users should be using Context. Could be retail, payments, productivity.

Skyhook Context allows the app to sync to the places users are now or where users have been. It can power apps in ways as simple as loading content relative to a user’s current location, or as complex as inferring the user’s interests and affinities based on a more extensive history.

Historical data enables apps to be able to message users and deliver content when it is the most appropriate time. They are not limited to just real-time messaging.

What kind of use cases can you imagine?

A: When there are places of significance to an app, the app should enter a new mode when it gets there (“Gym Mode” for a fitness app, for example). The user shouldn’t have to go through a bunch of menus to be able to engage the best way with the app. And we power this ability to go into a different mode based on place.

In the same way that the app should be contextualized to the in-the-moment behavior, the app should also be contextualized to the users historical behavior, or behaviors over time. When a user demonstrates an interest or affinity or pattern of behavior the app should be adapting to them with respect to interface, content and advertisements. Our Personas allow for this.  

How do you see this technology evolving?

A: We have already changed the paradigm for what is possible with location, and I think in the future we will continue to expand the definition of context even beyond location. Event data, abstractions such as interests, sentiments and activities-- so you can geofence sports, concerts and even weather.

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Topics: Advertising