Location-Based Marketing Takes a Step Forward

by Chuck Martin on March 10, 2011

Location based marketing is finally going more mainstream.

With the AT&T and Placecast announced deal to provide special offers called ShopAlerts to consumers through their mobile phones when they’re near a participating store or brand, mobile marketing takes another step forward.

With initial presenting sponsors include HP, Kmart, JetBlue, SC Johnson, Kibbles ‘n Bits and Nature’s Recipe, the AT&T-Placecast venture will provide a large-scale, location-based marketing program.

This is a great step forward for the mobile industry overall, as more on-the-go consumers will be able to see first-hand some of the relevant value that can be provided based on location.

Placecast is hardly new at this, having been founded in 2005 in San Francisco and built on the premise that location is the defining characteristic of mobile. “We were hyper-focused on very scalable technology,” Placecast CEO Alistair Goodman recently told me. Their service is double opt-in and easy to opt out.

While Placecast is hardly new to location-based marketing, having served brands such as The North Face, Starbucks, and Chicos over the years, the scope of the combined service with AT&T will allow large-scale, national deployment.

“We are proud to take mobile marketing into the future with this unique offering that is being embraced by consumers and brands alike,” said Greg Castle, senior vice president of AT&T Advanced Ad Solutions.

AT&T and Placecast will create a geo-fence, a virtual perimeter around a retail location, event or geographic area to deliver location-specific messages.

A maximum of four messages a week will be sent to mobile consumers who opt-in to the program, which will start in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. AT&T told me that In the future, mobile customers will be able to login to their ShopAlerts AT&T account online to manage their preferences and settings so they could receive more or fewer than four offers a week.

The big opportunity here is for the mobile industry and brands to see what does and doesn’t work in location-based messaging. Messages can range from coupons based on proximity to stores or products, which we view as a short-term entry, to more valuable services, such as useful information based on time and distance.

For example, Jet Blue could send instant flight, arrival, gate or baggage claim information based on current location of a traveler at a given moment, before the traveler asks for it.

The key point of this type of location-based marketing is that it allows businesses to focus on what Placecast’s Goodman calls “relevant messages to consumers when they are in a mindset to make a purchase.”

This is yet one step closer to reaching and interacting with the customer with highly relevant information when and where it is most needed, a potential win-win for the mobile consumer and for the company providing the goods or services.

 

 

 

 

Chuck Martin is author of The Third Screen; Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile, The Smartphone Handbook, CEO of Mobile Future Institute, Director of the Center for Media Research at MediaPost Communications and a highly sought-after mobile marketing speaker.

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