Carrier-Based Geo-Fencing Gives Brands the Power to Push

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The advantages of carrier-based geo-fencing are quite clear for marketers: The ability to push content via SMS to any opted-in consumer that wants it; no barrier to entry in the form of appn a built-in existing subscriber basen and typically a large sales force that already has relationship with major retailers and brands as potential customers. It simply makes a lot of sense.

Placecast and Locaid are two of the companies that have been empowering carriers like AT&T with ShopAlerts (US) and O2 with Priority Moments (UK) to do just that, and the consumers are responding.  O2 launched their program in June of 2011 and by Christmas had convinced almost half of their 23 million subscribes to opt-in.  That’s significant adoption when contrasted against Foursquare’s 3-year-old 15.5M user base.

I’ve said all along that location-based marketing will only be truly successful in attracting significant ad dollars when we realize that it more than just a mobile marketing concept — and really much more about the integration of any media that has the ability to influence somebody in a specific place.

It appears that some brands are getting the message.  Just last week The Gap completed a two-week long geo-fenced ad campaign. The geo-fences were created for Gap in bus shelters and stations throughout New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. In these transit areas, Gap had various standard poster ads for their brand, but also a geo-fenced area surrounding these posters, which triggered if someone entered the designated zone.  By entering this zone, a coupon was then pushed through the individual’s smartphone device, available if they opened Zynga gaming apps including the popular Words with Friends. If the smartphone user were to open the app, the next ad they see within the game would thus be for Gap but also include a discount that users have to click through to receive.

Although the campaign only ran for a short time period (February 20 – March 6), Dave Etherington, senior VP of Titan, the company that worked with Gap to create this campaign, explained that it delivered satisfying results in terms of interaction. He pointed out that the campaign delivered 2.5 million impressions with a 0.93 percent click-through-rate, a reasonable increase from the standard mobile click-through rate of 0.2 percent.

While there is a modicum of success in both the Gap and O2 examples, the key to growing user adoption on any geo-fenced service or campaign long term will be the ability to give the consumer a great deal of control.  It not simply about opt-in.  It must also be about enabling the consumer to choose what they want to receive and how often.

Push marketing is definitely back, and for the first time we know the who, what, when and where that we are pushing to.

Asif R. Khan is a veteran tech start-up, business development and marketing entrepreneur currently serving the community as founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association (The LBMA). Weekly podcaster at This Week In Location Based Marketing every Monday. Can be found at @AsifRKhan @TheLBMA on Twitter.

Top image courtesy of Flickr user jhaymesisvip.