38 :: Don`t geofence me in

I will get back to my bike rack map soon enough, but I thought I’d flag a couple of new concepts that I’ve stumbled across recently. The ideas aren’t really new but they are taking on new directions and potencies that make me pause.

The first idea is geo-fencing. From Wikipedia:

A geo-fence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area..

When the location-aware device of a location-based service (LBS) user enters or exits a geo-fence, the device receives a generated notification. This notification might contain information about the location of the device. The geofence notice might be sent to a mobile telephone or an email account.

Now geo-fencing isn’t inherently evil. I’m personally interested in starting to use a location-based reminder app. But since these apps require regular pinging of the GPS to figure out where you are, they usually drain a cell phone’s battery something fierce. That’s why some companies are working directly with cellular network providers to know when you are close to them but just need an extra incentive to come over and buy something…

The “correct” way to use a geofence is to use it as an additional data point for your customers in order to send locally-targeted, relevant content at times that most benefit your business.

So, expect to have more of the restaurants you frequent to ask you if you wouldn’t mind receiving an occasional promotional (SMS) text and then to have these messages announcing sales and discounts show up on your phone just when you happen to be are nearby *and* when its around lunchtime!

And then be prepared to get promotional deals show up in your cell phone when it’s lunchtime and you are near someone else’s restaurant. Welcome to the brave new world of ‘geocapturing’ :

A recent mobile campaign from Outback Steakhouse saw a 78 percent lift in the click-through rate for ads delivered to users within five miles of a competitor’s location.

The campaign also included a geo-fence around Outback locations to reach loyal customers. A key learning was that post-click activity was highest on the portion of the campaign targeting competitors, showing an 11 percent lift on conversion actions such as accessing a store locator compared with standard geo-fence ads.

Ok, so that’s a little sneaky. Where does this sort of predatory behaviour end?

Let’s all hope that Google remembers not to be evil when it as implements more sophisticated location based ads and services such as Google Now.



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