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The Future of Location-Based Marketing is Cool. . . or Scary




Yesterday, I wrote about a stat that said more men than women remember and enjoy mobile ads. I stated that I never remember the ads I’ve seen and now I know why. The ads I’ve seen aren’t cool.

Westin Hotels and the Weather Channel had an ad campaign last year called “Wipe Away Your Weather.” You check the app for the current weather. If it’s snowing at your location, snow slowly fills your screen. You then wipe it away with your finger to reveal a sunny location courtesy of Westin Hotels. Relevant, location-based information served up with a relevant ad. Smart and cool.

AdWeek says we’ll be seeing more of this kind of thing and sooner and grander than you think. They make references to bus shelter posters that change instantly to offer you a free coffee as you walk by or cereal coupons that pop up when you hit the cereal aisle at the store.

It’s not just about location, it’s about timing and combined, these two elements pack a powerful advertising punch.

You know the old tip about how you should never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry? It works the same way. A weekend getaway to a sunny spot is much more appealing on a snowy Friday in New York, than on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles.

The concept is called geofencing and it does require the consumer to opt-in usually by okaying ad information from a brand they enjoy. Check-in services, the most common use of location-based advertising, require an initial app download and a continual commitment from the users. Geofencing is the opposite. It reaches out to the consumer and they don’t have to do anything but click on the opportunity.

For marketers, it’s a lot to take in. Usually ads are designed to reach as many people as possible. Even online targeted ads have a wide reach. But when you’re looking for hungry people near a certain street in Chicago, that really narrows the field.

The upside? You’re not paying for people on the north side to see an ad for a restaurant on the south side.

As always, the biggest worry is privacy. As much as we like the convenience of having targeted coupons and ads, we don’t like the concept of being followed. I have a feeling, that as we move forward with technology, location tracking will be as common as a listed phone number. By then, our targeted location-based ads will be really specific.

“Hey Cynthia, the ice cream truck just turned into your complex and will be in front of your house in 60 seconds. Click here if you want him to stop.”

Now, that’s an ad I’d remember.

  • http://mostlymommyhood.com/ Krista Swan

    Wow! that reminds me of a movie – I think it was minority report. I’m leaning towards scary at the moment…

    • http://www.dreamscape-design.co.uk Alex

      If i am correct Tom Cruise was offered Guinness whilst walking down the street. The reality is that technology like in Minority Report is already being used in South Korea and Japan. RFID chips in electronic devices give out information to adverts that specifically target you.

      I think people will like them at first due to the novelty factor, but I can see them being annoying after a while. Who would want their name shouted out hundreds of times a day as they walk down the street!?

    • http://www.antoniettashouse.com Sergio Di Domenicantonio

      one of these days you have to come to Rome to visit my B & B may be that you like

  • http://www.stanleyoppenheimer.com searchengineman

    Wow we must be on the same wavelength — “The Minority Report”

    Gosh, identity theft will not only mean seeing all the stuff the person likes and more. This is creepy.
    The word Geo-Fencing, sounds like a cage I can’t escape from.

    Frankly laws need to be enacted that enable Joe Blow Citizen, to be able to request all personally collected data that is attached to my name or profile from every company that does this.

    Just like a credit report Equifax etc… This transparency will ensure that companies behave if they start (will) geo-fencing based on my activities.

    Searchengineman