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Five ways to use location data

Chris Wood, CTO, Spicy Mango
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Location data is hugely useful and provides technologists with a method to ‘translate’ an IP address to a plethora of useful information. In modern handsets, laptops and tablets, GPS receivers extract your latitude and longitude, and pass this information back as a City, Region or Country codes. But in older devices, GPS receivers aren’t so common – and even in modern handsets, with privacy at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it’s a dwindling few that allow applications and services access to their device location anymore.

So why do we need location data and services such as this? For a service provider or operator of video platforms, rights and entitlement management capabilities are critical. Studios and content owners issue content to providers (like Netflix or Hulu) with rules. These rules determine where and when the content may be viewed by the consumer (that’s you and me). Seems like a trifling issue, but the reality is that the penalties for a breach of the rules are severe.

These rich data sets are wrapped around interfaces that allow applications to provide an IP address, and have it translated to the data set demonstrated earlier. By using IP address translation services, we can achieve almost the same results as we’d get with a GPS receiver, but without the pinpoint accuracy. In fact, for a service provider or operator, only a city or country is often needed to be able to enforce the commercial and legal rules.

So what else can we do with this data? Alongside its most frequently found use case, location information can serve well in the wider context of the platform – used to provide services, features or capabilities that are tailored to region or market. Here are five things that your location data can do for you on a day to day basis.

  1. Controlling Service Access

In many services, users are able to access the applications, even registering for accounts or perhaps in the worst cases, creating subscriptions, only to discover that at the point of playback, content rights restrictions prevent playback. This can be hugely frustrating for consumers. Location data can be leveraged way before the entitlements check to verify that your users are in the right place to begin their journey with you.

  1. Catalogue Personalisation

Finding a piece of content in the catalogue – usually after a good old search, only to discover that your location prevents access is one of the most frustrating things often encountered. We’d think in today’s age, that this shouldn’t be happening, but it still does. Location data can be queried and used at the point of catalogue presentation – ensuring that only the assets your users can view are presented before your carousels (or pages) are rendered. A great way to present country or region specific catalogues.

  1. Localised Messaging

The success of deploying and operating a truly international service is in meeting the needs of consumers wherever they may be. Location data can be used to tailor the application or portal to local requirements. It can be used to present translated text or information tables, localised offers or content, player or play-back messaging. A refreshing approach to hard coding applications and portals in a handful of languages.

  1. Feature Control

It’s not uncommon to want to control features or capabilities by territory. In the case of large multi-national events, features in the service such as download to play offline, instant restart or DVR may be subject to international restrictions as a result of licencing or partnership deals. Use location data to restrict capabilities based on location. When coupled with device management platform technologies, the ability to enable or disable features based on location or other defined parameters requires no more than a simple change of a toggle in a console – not distribution of territory version specific applications.

  1. Reporting

Location data can be used not only to control features and capabilities, but also to build detailed reports.  For example, where you see the most activity in your service. By parsing city or country codes and feeding these into analytics tools or proprietary interfaces, you can build accurate heat maps of where requests originate. If you’re looking for a way to determine the next hot territory that’s desperate to use your service, this could be it. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, use the data to spot abnormal traffic patterns – comparing this to volumes of requests or data hitting your APIs and interfaces. You’ll soon spot spammers or DDOS wannabes.

If used correctly, Location Data can enhance the user experience, paving the way for a seamless, personalised experience on OTT platforms or traditional broadcast channels. By using it in the right way, service providers can succeed across the globe.


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