MapPins

Location is becoming more and more important to technology companies. Google announced in June that it intends to acquire Waze as part of its increased interest in location data; ByteLight recently raised $3.5 million to develop an indoor location-tracking service; and Aviate is developing a homescreen replacement based entirely on the idea that someone’s location determines what they wish to do with their smartphones. Those are just a few of the companies to whom one of the most important things about someone is their position on a map.

That list now includes Appboy, an analytics and marketing company that is today announcing the addition of location-based features to its service. The company now makes it easier for marketers to target people based on their location, helps app developers learn more about the geographic spread of their users, and allows media companies to display locally relevant stories within their apps.

The expansion isn’t all that surprising. Appboy previously focused on helping developers learn more about how their apps are used and, through a partnership with HootSuite, manage the cantankerous cacophony of frustrated customers. That forced the company to collect as much information about app users as possible — adding location data to the mix is a logical extension of that requirement. And, since the company is gathering as much data as possible, why not help companies act on what they’ve learned through the service?

Data is the raw material with which Appboy is able to make something people might pay for. It can help marketers, developers, and media companies alike learn more about what they’re already doing and, hopefully, allow them to correct any mistakes they might be making. Allowing these people to act on that data by making it easy to display advertisements to specific users, prompt lapsed customers to launch an app after they’ve neglected it for months, and present relevant information without having to fuss with maintaining dozens (or hundreds) of specialized sites is the next step in Appboy’s progress towards offering increasingly refined products.

Put another way: Allowing customers to take action on the data it collects is the thing that could make Appboy something these companies are using all day instead of something they check every once in a while to see if things are going according to plan.

“We’ve found that having a baseline of data that isn’t crazy complicated and doesn’t require data scientists to collect and understand is great,” says Appboy marketing director Cezary Pietrzak. “But being able to take that information and using it to engage with a person in some way is really where the value is.”

Most technology companies can determine someone’s location. We’re all walking around with miniature computers in our pockets that track and share where we are with any company interested in such information. The difference is in how these companies use that information — Google is using it to help its users manage their digital lives, ByteLight is using it to help people find their way around stores, and Appboy is using it to help other companies identify and target specific audiences.