Technology breakthroughs are allowing retailers to dynamically change prices during the day, based on surges in demand. While this has previously been easier to do in the travel and hospitality industries, it has been more difficult in the retail environment.
However, smart Digital-Out-Of-Home (DOOH) digital display advertising, combined with more in-depth customer data, is giving businesses the tools to adjust prices in real-time and attract specific customers at particular times of the day.
Is the U.S, for example, Coca-Cola has been using Google’s cloud platform to send videos and discount coupons to customers’ smartphones in Albertsons grocery stores, directing them to specials in the soft drinks aisle. While privacy advocates see this targeted approach as an aggressive invasion of privacy, marketers are congratulating themselves on the wily use of location-based marketing (LBM) piggybacked on mobile phone signals.
Closer to home, Australian marketing services company ReachLocal has launched a new location-based mobile marketing solution that uses geofencing technology to track conversions and better measure return on investment. The technology uses location-based marketing to help businesses pinpoint and target customers where and when products and services are more relevant to them. Once the geofence ‘boundary’ is set up, consumers are tracked and targeted via the GPS beacons in their smartphones.
ReachLocal Australian MD, Justin O’Sullivan, says the technology puts a company in front of consumers where they are spending the majority of their time – on their smartphones.
Smart billboards have also adopted LBM technology quickly and an increasingly common sight around Australian cities is DOOH ‘smart’ billboards, which offer advertisers a range of functionality, including customisation of content based on the local market, such as weather or time of day. They also allow consumers to interact directly and can provide detailed analytics such as foot and vehicle traffic volumes in their vicinity.
This surge in interest in location-based marketing is predicted to increase. Research company BIA/Kelsey recently projected this segment will grow from $12.4 billion currently to $32.4 billion by 2021. And Google has reported that 56 percent of its searches ‘on the go’ now have a local focus. The company claims 50 percent of the searches done on a smartphone prompted a store visit within a day.
Although the rise and early success of location-based marketing has businesses rubbing their hands, a cautious approached is needed to make sure consumers aren’t scared off. There have been a number of international incidents where retailers have been called to account for tracking shoppers’ movements without disclosure.
Transparency is needed to explain data collection and privacy protection or businesses risk scaring consumers off, even if nothing untoward is happening. The key is to make practices and policies clear and accessible to consumers – for example, by not burying them in hard to read fine print.
Despite misgivings, consumers are generally open to location-based tracking, as long as there is a genuine, valuable payback. For example, most of us are comfortable trading some privacy for the value of location pinpointing within Google Maps. But where the trade-off is less obvious, businesses need to be transparent about GPS tracking, the reason for it, and how the collected data will be used.
Location-based marketing on mobile has a strong future. It’s still early days, but the curve is developing fast. The payoff will be more engaging marketing campaigns, an enhanced customer experience and more accurate data.