Fenced In By Your Smartphone

November 17th, 2011 by Asif Leave a reply »

Fenced in by your Smart Phone

Have you ever been out to some form of farmland and wondered how all the animals stay within the perimeters of the farms? Or maybe in your rebellious youth you were dared to trespass to scary Old Nicks house to witness his hair-raising ways and felt an unfamiliar sensation. This sensation, known as an electric fence, creates an invisible boundary to keep unwanted visitors out and captive animals in through electric shock. Technology has taken this torturous form of isolating a geographic region and turned it into the next big marketing phenomenon. They are placing consumers into a zone but they are pain free and invisible to the average person except not to their mobile device. Geo Fencing is the name that has been given to these boundaries that marketers are exploring as a means of targeting their customers in a specific location.

How it works?

Geofencing utilizes the GPS software in smart phones and triangulation from the cellular radio towers to determine consumers position. By creating this virtual perimeter, when consumers pass the border the system becomes aware and will push information about restaurants, coffee shops or stores that are within a reasonable geographic distance from where they are physically standing directly to their phone. This software is transparent from the users and allows them to opt in and out when they are interesting. Otherwise they will only receive period messages reminding them that it is still active. Shopkick, Loopt, and Placecast are already providing geofencing but in a fairly straightforward way as such systems are still in their infancy.

Who has used it?

O2 media (based in the UK) teamed up with Placecast to develop a location based messaging campaign by fencing off geographic regions and sending SMS and MMS messages to those within those fences. O2 signed L’Oreal and Starbucks who would be offering 50% off and buy-one-get-one-free deals are nearby locations. Results have yet to be determined as the trial is still in progress. But I am confident we can expect extraordinary results or in the least discounts on our morning doses of Starbucks. One thing that we do know is that of the 22 million subscribers on the O2 network, more than 8 million have already opted-in to participate in the program.

What will geofencing do for location-based marketing?

Consumers are always looking for the new trend to save money and geofencing is it! By utilizing these services consumers are able to opt in and out and maximize the system, using them when they are interested, by controlling frequency and content of the messages. Consumers are always looking for the best deal within a reasonable distance from them which geofencing can do. As marketers, a challenge we face everyday is to emerge from the ad clutter and increase foot traffic within our locations or online clicks. Geofencing allows companies to directly target their customers when they want to be messaged (as they opted in to the service) and when they are nearby. If we can pique their interest enough to get them in the store and offer them a deal that encourages them to spend then we will have been successful.  Now only to work on CRM and develop brand loyalty.

Geofencing has emerged as a frequently used term in the mobile marketing world as the possibilities are endless with what can be done with this software. Although this activity is accelerating privacy concerns, geofencing can move forward to have more uses then just marketing such as public safety, wildlife management and business management. Through this richer and more unique medium consumers will get what they want and marketers will be able to target them and monitor their spending habits and even physical movements. Going forward keep in mind that next time you find yourself behind a fence, you can turn off your Geofencing apps, but the benefits of keeping them on may be such much more.


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