The following article contains detailed information on frequently asked questions in SPOTLIGHT.

Get answers to the following questions:

How do I prepare data for importing files?


  • Regular text works best (no formatting or accounting symbols on dollar values)
  • The file should be formatted as a CSV
  • The maximum file size is 75 MB

Headers and Field Names

  • Headers must only be one row and in the first row
  • No blank row after your header row (the first row of data should always be populated with data in each column)
  • Refrain from using symbols (@#$%^&* etc.) or punctuation in column headers or in the data fields
  • Clear Formats in Excel to avoid leading or trailing spaces in the file name or header fields

  • Field names are necessary and must be fewer than 50 characters in length

How do I prepare my data for importing custom areas?

SPOTLIGHT allows users to import custom areas in two ways:

  1. A list of geographic codes to create custom areas
  2. Spatial files of existing polygons to create custom areas

To import a list of geographic codes into SPOTLIGHT:

  • The file needs to have at least one column containing the data, with at least one row containing the code for the specified geography. For example, if you were importing a list of Provinces, you would need to have a field that contains the specific code for that geography, rather than the name.

  • CSV is the suggested file format

  • The first row immediately after the header row must contain data

  • All special characters (@#$%^&* etc.) must be removed from the header row and file name.

To import spatial files of existing polygons into SPOTLIGHT:

  • The polygons must be from MapInfo (.TAB), Esri (.SHP), or Alteryx (.YXDB)
  • Both Esri Shapefiles and MapInfo Tab files have additional components that must be present
  • The associated files are as follows:
File Types
MapInfo Esri Alteryx
.ID .SHX  

Why does a profile with zero counts and zero base counts yield an Index value of 100?

Profiles will yield an Index value of 100 instead of zero because an Index of 100 is our baseline, indicating that segment presence in an area reflects its presence in a benchmark. This is also the case when there is zero count and zero base count.

An Index of zero is meant to reflect situations where there is no segment presence in an area but that segment does exist in the selected benchmark.

What do the different mapping classifications mean?

Our SPOTLIGHT software offers the following mapping classifications:

Equal Count: each class has roughly the same number of records, which equals to the total number of records/number of classes.

Equal Range: each class has an equal range of values; range - (max - min)/number classes. Use this method if your data is evenly distributed and you want to emphasize the difference in values between features.

Natural Break: data values that cluster are placed into a single class. Class breaks occur where there is a gap between clusters. Use this method if your data are unevenly distributed; that is, many features have the same or similar values and there are gaps between groups of values.

Standard Deviation: class breaks are placed above and below mean value at intervals of 1, 0.5, or 0.25 standard deviations until all the data values are included in a class.

Custom: enter your own classification break points.

How do I create a map with different colours for my Trade Areas?

If you'd like to have multiple areas on the same map with different outline or fill colours, please follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Import or create your areas and edit the style by following regular mapping steps.
  2. In the side panel, click on the Content tab.

  3. Click on the icon to the left of the Area of Interest, by default it will outline in red without a fill.

  4. Open the Renderer type dropdown, and select Categories.

  5. Open the style editor by selecting the square next to each trade area.

  6. Use the style editor to change your fill colour, outline width, and colour. Click Finish Edits to apply your changes.

  7. Toggle through your trade areas to change the colours for each of your trade areas. Click Update Style once all the changes have been made to view the changes on the map.

How do I add street names, highways and major roads to map?

When you first create a new workspace the default view for any mapping function is to have the highways labeled, as shown by the eye icon .

To add additional reference layers, select the Add Layer drop-down. Then select Reference Layers.

Make your desired selections.

Changes to any of these reference layers will be saved for future use.

How do I change my SPOTLIGHT password?

To change your password at any point, navigate to the upper right corner of the SPOTLIGHT screen. Click My Account > My Account > Password. Your new password must be at least seven characters long and have:

  • One lowercase letter from a to z
  • One uppercase letter from A to Z
  • One number from 0 to 9
  • One symbol: !@#$%^&*

How do I select the appropriate benchmark?

A benchmark is a point of reference and is used for comparative analysis. They are used to compare geographies or customer lists - showing how similar or different populations or households in a trade area are from those in the benchmark.

A benchmark is used as the denominator for the penetration and Index calculations. Determining the proper benchmark requires a good understanding of how, where, and to whom the product/service is being marketed, or who is represented in your customer list. A poorly selected benchmark can lead to faulty analysis, so it is important to consider the following:

  • The benchmark must include the entirety of the population, households, or customers being analyzed.
  • The benchmark must include the entirety of the population, households, or customers who had the opportunity to purchase or respond.

Note: The trade area must be completely surrounded by the benchmark. Ensure that the trade area you create or select represents an area that is fully encompassed by the benchmark.

What is the difference between Constant and Current Average Household Income variables?

Constant Year

Constant dollars is a term describing income after adjustment for inflation. Constant-dollar values represent an effort to remove the effects of price changes from statistical series reported in dollar terms. The result is a series as it would presumably exist if prices were the same throughout as they were in the base years.

Current Year

Nominal or Current dollars is a term describing income in the year in which a person, household, or family receives it. For example, the income someone received in 2015 unadjusted for inflation is in current dollars.