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Introducing Expanded SafeGraph Category Tags: More Granular Than NAICS Codes

May 12, 2022
by
Michael Taylor

You might already be familiar with the Category Tags column in SafeGraph Places, which for the past few years has provided more detailed info than NAICS codes about what is located at a specific POI. But until now, Category Tags has been largely limited to covering restaurant types.  For example, while we classify restaurant POIs under “Full-Service Restaurant"  or NAICS 722511, we also tag each location with other relevant information, like “Pizza” or “Italian Food.” Data scientists use this extra detail to develop more accurate models, create more informative consumer-facing mapping applications, and better understand market landscapes. But the value in those details is not unique to restaurants. And that’s why, in our April 2022 release, we’ve expanded Category Tags beyond restaurants to cover other types of POIs that have many subcategories falling under the same NAICS code.

SafeGraph users have long relied on restaurant Category Tags to differentiate between different cuisine types. Now we've expanded our Category Tag coverage to more NAICS codes to provide the same level of granularity in categorization.

What are Category Tags?

NAICS codes are an essential industry standard that must be included in POI data to make it valuable across use cases, but we have increasingly heard of a need for greater granularity in classifying places within NAICS categories. It’s important to remember that NAICS codes were created with government entities in mind as the end users, so they were developed with specific methodology and classifications mainly used by government organizations. Today, data scientists exist across industries, and those who use POI data often need to identify businesses or other places at a more granular level than NAICS codes allow. 

We initially built Category Tags because of these shortcomings in standardized category classification systems, like NAICS codes. With these larger standards, POIs must fit into a single box, and can only be so specific. While still necessary for larger-scale analyses, NAICS codes are not always updated to reflect new business types, and do not offer much flexibility in granularity.  Additionally, NAICS codes often have obscure descriptions that align to government classification needs, and are not very intuitive for consumer-facing search or mapping applications. Using the restaurant example again, consumers are more likely to search for “Mexican food” than “Full-Service Restaurant” in a mapping app as they look for a place to eat dinner.

Updates to Category Tags in the April 2022 SafeGraph Release

Restaurants are not the only broad NAICS codes, and we’ve had feedback from data scientists that Category Tags would be useful for POIs in other industries as well. As a response, we’ve now expanded our Category Tags to other NAICS codes that often require more granularity to analyze properly, such as healthcare and retail. For example, healthcare POIs can be classified by medical specialty, such as cardiology or dermatology. These more granular categories are not accessible using NAICS codes like “Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners” (621399). You can see a full list of available Category Tags by NAICS code here.

We'll continue to improve these tags in the months to come and plan to apply them to more and more brands. Because we want to expand the use of existing tags across more NAICS codes, we’d like to ask you to please share your feedback early and often as we are eager to hear how these new tags are being put to use. 

Explore a sample of Category Tags in this interactive map.

Top Use Cases for Category Tags

Category Tags are valuable anytime POI data is being used to inform strategies, develop models, or populate mapping applications. Here are some of the most popular use cases we’ve heard for the granular classification and analysis enabled by Category Tags:

  • Mapping: A consumer-facing mapping application that wants to provide intuitive searching for users when they type in a place category (ex, coffee, pizza)
  • Site selection: A retailer performing site selection who wants to see what types of goods different stores sell and how that impacts the competitive landscape (ex. party suppliers, outdoor gear)
  • Trade area analysis: A healthcare organization that is building a catchment model to understand access to different types of medical care (ex. audiology or pediatrics)

Category Tags provide additional metadata for POI that is not available from NAICS codes. Download a sample of SafeGraph Places to see how Category Tags enable more granular analytics and informative mapping.

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