Location-based Marketing: Anytime, Anywhere…


Today Cell phones are virtually everywhere. Almost everyone are connected to cell phones! Therefore businesses see this as an immense opportunity to effectively reach nearly everybody by segregating the content through a device that triggers content relevant to your surrounding at that particular time & place.

This is the era of convergence and combination of location and accessibility with multimedia, navigation, and communication capabilities warrants what some have called, the birth of a new medium- Location based Marketing (LBM)

Location based marketing is an emerging medium to connect with consumers and being a student of creative brand management this intrigues me to dive deep into this emerging new wave of technological convergence.  As per our beloved Wikipedia, “It is an information and entertainment service, accessible with mobile devices through the mobile network and utilizing the ability to make use of the geographical position of the mobile device.” LBSZONE.com a community established in 2003 for the technology professionals interested in Location-Based services (LBS) defines LBS in a very crisp definition i.e. “Delivering information on Location.”

Location-based service identifies a location of a person or object, such as discovering the nearest banking cash machine or the whereabouts of a friend or employee. It also expands its scope to include parcel tracking and vehicle tracking services, personalized weather services and even location-based games!

Location-based mobile messaging:

SMS plays a very important role in location based advertising application. It acts as a quintessential carrier of promotional messages to the mobile phones powered by pre-programmed geographic triggers. Using location-based messaging, geographically targeted messages can be broadcasted to multiple receivers.
The momentum of using location based services as a marketing tool started with plain text messages in terms of mobile coupons or discount s to mobile subscribers who are near to the advertising parties (restaurants, cafes, or movie theatres).

This text messages have now taken the form of multimedia! As the location-aware device enters the selected area, satellites trigger the assigned media, designed to be of optimal relevance to the user and their surroundings.

Location-based social networking:

With emergence of Location based Services (LBS) & Several key product launches and announcements, including Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android operating system for mobile handsets there are numerous services that are reshaping the social networking. Don’t be surprised to find 70 applications (mainly location based)  within social networking category  in the Apple Apps Store. My favorite service is Loopt. It is a GPS enabled mobile social network. It allows users to see their friends’ current location, alert their friends when they are nearby and enables them to communicate by tagging places and sharing local recommendations. As per the Loopt – “it is perfecting the art of connecting people & places.”

Loopt offers a few other cool features like organizing social events and creating journals (upload location pictures and comments). For privacy, users can create levels of permissions and allow only some of their friends to see their location activity. As per Loopt’s slogans goes – “Find your friends fast” and “Where you at?”  We can easily sum up the service, it is a cutting edge LBS that performs well with great accuracy!

Future of Mobile Marketing:

As per an article by eMarketer in April 2008, The US will continue to be the most dynamic region for mobile Web advertising because of its position as the largest interactive economy. The total mobile advertising spending in US is estimated to reach $6.5 billions by 2012 from $878 millions in 2007. This is humongous!

End Note:

Opportunities are immense, but needs careful exploration. This attractive medium carries along with it a great deal of controversy, stemming from the potential intrusive nature of marketing. To tackle this, the United States Senate has passed the Can Spam Act in 2005,this act makes it illegal in the US to send any message to the end user without the end user specifically opting-in. As a result, there has been a major shift in focus from “Carrier Centric” to  user-centric location-based services and applications that requires people to first “opt-in” via a website or mobile interface, rather than allowing people to “opt-out” only after the advertisements have been sent.

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One thought on “Location-based Marketing: Anytime, Anywhere…

  1. We are still transitioning from a physical world to a cyber world and LBM is one of cogs in this transition. LBM has a problem of privacy. Either we need to get SIMs where personal details are not associated. Or there has to be a encryption layer where marketer does not know the identity of the customer. Another thing is that LBM should operate in two modes, actually present at said location, planning to be present at said location.

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