'Keeping Pace with the Consumer': Political Economy and the Location Analytics Industry

Authors: Harrison Smith*, Newcastle University
Topics: Economic Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Political Economy, Location Analytics, Marketing
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper will analyze the location analytics industries with regards to theorizing the relationship between measurement and value in platform capitalism and its speculative futures. It will specifically focus on the political economy of location data with regards to the construction of new geodemographic insights and epistemologies of success that reproduce fields of data-driven marketing and commercial sociology (Savage & Burrows, 2007). I argue that these emerging socio-technical practices of enacting and calculating markets are performative epistemologies that seek to mobilize bodies and movement as economized subjects governable through locative infrastructures. These socio-technical changes reflect a larger political economy of classification and measurement governed by the imperative of 'keeping pace' with consumers and technological change in the marketing industry.

By juxtaposing key insights from qualitative interviews with location based marketers and broader patterns into the structural composition of location analytics industries, the objective is to contribute towards broader theoretical discussions in the political economy of platform capitalism, data analytics industries, and the geospatial web through interdisciplinary analysis (Leszczynski 2012; Beer 2017; Srnicek 2017). There have been few studies that have examined the role of third party data brokers and analytics platforms, particularly with regards to unpacking the speculative futures of platform valuation and capitalization (Mackenzie 2018a; Mackenzie 2018b). As such, this paper seeks to address key gaps in existing literatures through an interdisciplinary analysis of emerging marketing practices and industries.

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