Geek looking at data


Mobility Analytics in Action

Nov 9, 2018, 09:14 AM by Paul Tyndall

Who shows up when Canada throws a party?

How do you profile people who are always on the move? It’s an important question for marketers and public officials, but a difficult one to answer. Ask yourself, how would you determine who celebrates Canada Day on Parliament Hill? Is the event dominated by families with kids, overrun by singles looking to party or crowded with new Canadians looking to forge bonds with their new home? Those may be reasonable guesses, but even if they’re correct, how would these groups break down in relation to the rest of the crowd? With close to 40,000 people on the Hill to enjoy the concerts and watch the spectacular fireworks display, traditional methods can’t effectively answer these questions—but mobility analytics can.

With our new mobility analytics functionality in our ENVISION5 platform, if you can outline a location on a map, you can get visitor insights. Mobility analytics works by leveraging anonymized, permission-based location data collected from smartphones to identify devices observed in defined areas. This same data can also be used to estimate the likely home postal codes (and in most cases, work locations) for the holders of those observed devices.

Let’s go back to our Canada Day example. To figure out who was celebrating on the Hill this past Canada Day, we would begin by identifying the area that you want to profile. For this event, I found the three main fireworks viewing areas designated by the event organizers and combined them into one geofence in ENVISION5.

Map of Canada Day Customers
Click on the image to enlarge

Next, I specified the date and time of the event (July 1st between 6 a.m. and midnight) and submitted the query through the mobility analytics tool in ENVISION5. In the background, our mobility tool attaches a common evening postal code (think of that as the inferred home neighbourhood) and common daytime postal code (inferred work) for each observed mobile device. Once we have this inferred postal code, we can use that information to link to the wide range of demographic, psychographic, financial, behavioural and other databases to gain even deeper insights. The results speak for themselves.

In the spirit of a true national celebration, there were visitors from every province and territory in attendance, with a high numbers of visitors from each of the 25 largest cities in Canada. At least one visitor travelled more than 4,100 km to soak up the capital celebration.

By looking at the distribution of visitors through the lens of PRIZM5, our popular segmentation product, we can get more useful insights. For instance, the Urban Young Social Group—who tend to be single, university-educated in white-collar or service jobs—were overrepresented. Grads & Pads—one of the segments that shares the same social group as Urban Young—was almost 10 times higher in attendance than the general population, while Urban Digerati—which also falls into this social group—was three times higher.

Mobility Analytics executive report
Click to read the sample executive report

From a life stage perspective, attendees in the Singles Scene segment were observed at 3.5 times their average rate. Conversely, Older Parents with Younger Kids and Families with Tweens were both below average. If you dig into the demographics of those in attendance, we find it skews younger and more likely to be singles. They were also more likely to be university grads who are renting.

The celebrations on Parliament Hill are also a popular destination for new Canadians. More than 55 percent of the thousands of observed attendees were much more likely to be first- or second-generation immigrants than people who had been in Canada for three or more generations. Looking at the attendees through our AccultuRates data, I found that attendees were 1.5 times more likely to belong to a visible minority. When I zeroed in on the AccultuRates Chinese data, attendees skewed toward the Bi-Cultural group, characterized as having been born in China and immigrated to Canada within the last 15 years. AccultuRates South Asian data, however, suggests that attendees skewed toward the NextGen group, meaning they were more likely to have been born in Canada.

Layering on some of our other data yields other interesting insights that demonstrate the power of third-party data. One variable from our SocialValues database that we integrate into our PRIZM5 profiles looks at whether those segments prefer to be in large crowds. Our mobility data found that the same segments that like to be in crowds were most likely to be part of the party on Parliament Hill. Our mobility data also found these partygoers belonged to segments that had a higher interest in Culture Sampling, Pursuit of Novelty, New Products and Risk Taking behaviours.

When I profiled them using our new CannabisInsights database, I found that attendees skewed toward using cannabis with friends (who were more likely to be the source of their cannabis). Their motivations were more likely to include Relaxation and Having Fun. Looking at the Opticks eShopper database Powered by AskingCanadians data, I found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the attendees were more likely to use online services for meal delivery and groceries. Reviewing their media consumption habits with our Opticks Powered by Numeris, the attendees were more likely to be heavy Internet users, average radio listeners and newspaper readers and light television viewers.

With our new Mobility Analytics tool within ENVISION5, in a few short steps, I was able to compile a comprehensive profile of the attendees at a recent event despite not having any visitor data to start with. These types of insights could be used to understand how to promote Canada Day at Parliament Hill in the future, inform potential sponsorships, what types of activities to include, as well as reinforce the event as an important part of our Canadian cultural identity.


Paul Tyndall is Vice President, Strategic Projects at Environics Analytics