We saw an article this week entitled, “Are marketers taking advantage of location based services to the full?”, and it triggered our interest. Here’s why.
It’s important to differentiate between location based services, and location based marketing more broadly. Marketers can be guilty of confusing the two: many consider checking in on Foursquare or Facebook, or pushing a localised sms text, to be location’s be all and end all. But that’s a narrow and slightly clumsy understanding that can at best be limiting, and at worst, be quite damaging.
Talk of location based services immediately silos the thinking in what is in fact, a very broad church. It should start with a common sense definition. In digital worlds, location based marketing becomes possible when a consumer has two things: firstly, a mobile device, which is secondly, aware of its location. Mobile networks, 3G/4G, IP addresses, social media and more tend to make sure of the second tenet.
With these two elements, location based marketing becomes possible at every consumer touchpoint. Everything on the device from apps, maps, web browsing, search, text messaging, social medias and more, have the very immediate potential to form part of location based marketing. And brands need a strategy in place to make sure they’re able to fully leverage each of these touch points.
Over half of smartphone users use mobile internet, every day. Consider therefore, search and discovery. Listings are now at the front line of consumer interactions. Therefore, managing content on platforms like Google+ Local, Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, MapQuest and others is now a basic requirement. Information on location, services, products or menus, tips, specials, recommendations and local expertise can be the first impression of a brand, whether it is local or international in scale.
But it’s not something marketers have fully come to terms with. One recent study suggested that businesses in the US alone are losing $10.3 billion dollars annually from missing or incomplete listings. And it is not only retail brands who should be responding. Brands distributed through any outlets have as much opportunity to shout about their availability, as those performing the sale.
And in location based marketing, social media’s influence has increased. Comments relating to poor experiences can quite literally cost business. But equally businesses have the opportunity to leverage social media by engaging local advocates.
Furthermore, there should be no doubt that location based marketing will continue to grow significantly. Google are already winning significant portions of search media budgets with local inventory sales. That Twitter last week purchased location company Spindle, and Facebook’s Nearby feature has been highly developed for its vast mobile audience, is indicative how major tech companies see the future. And if there is one company that makes fewer mistakes than most in its product launches, it’s Apple.
Interesting then to hear that they will reveal a new feature on iOS7 devices called iBeacon. Designed for bricks & mortar businesses, it will allow micro-location comms via bluetooth and Apple devices, while in store – and in doing so may become a key consumer behaviour change tool.
So, we’re not sure that marketers are yet taking full advantage of location based marketing, let alone the services which constitute it. Doing so requires a solid strategy. At that point the creative opportunities will be abundant. Keep an eye on our blog for updates.