Location Tracking Tech Powering Next Generation Of Media

Estimote's bluetooth beacons are among the indoor location-detecting and offer devices.
Estimote’s bluetooth beacons are among the indoor location-detecting and offer devices.

Welcome to the location-based revolution. Marketing and advertising will never be the same.

“Location-based marketing is not a platform by itself, but in fact a data set that powers us to make every form of media we spend money on today more effective and more measurable”

The revolution 

Location-based marketing isn’t simply the “next big platform.” There are three reasons why it’s the next revolution in advertising: it provides direct access to the consumer, gives brands the ability to know exactly where their audiences are at a given time, and the growing idea that location isn’t a platform but a data set.

These reasons lead to the one galvanizing maxim: awareness of location is interesting, but it’s the action it enables that makes it very important. That’s why location-based marketing is going to a place that represents the perfect intersection of people, places and media — that’s how the Location Based Marketing Association defines it, says its president Asif Khan — a place where location and context come together to create a super-relevant agent of advertising.

Data provides the most location-based marketing its crucial upside. It’s one of two key drivers that, hand-in-hand, have encouraged the location-based revolution in advertising. Now, a billboard, for example, becomes much more measurable than it was previously, more ROI-able.

“Location-based marketing is not a platform by itself, but in fact a data set that powers us to make every form of media we spend money on today more effective and more measurable,” says Khan.

Working in tandem with location-based tech seeded in mobile devices, brands can tally an exact eyeball count and interact with people on a one-to-one basis with hyper-relevance, which leads to the second revolutionary driver — superior targeting. Consumer interactions can now happen hyper-locally, which enables added layers of relevance to messages, which, of course, also means more data.

“Knowing where people are and targeting them based on location, the relevance of that makes tons of sense, as opposed to just sending out random messages without really knowing where they are relative to where [another person is] and what that can mean,” says Khan.

The tech’s evolving

“We can know not just that someone is in a particular store, but that they’re in the store and standing in front of the Coke display”

GPS-enabled devices, of course, have been most responsible for enabling the location-based revolution. Indeed, Khan says 70-73% of all location services in North America are using GPS — think Foursqare and Facebook. That said, the tech is evolving. Two others are coming to the fore: cell tower triangulation and indoor location.

Cell tower triangulation (bigger in Europe and Asia than it is in North America) involves a mobile carrier using their towers to determine where you, their subscriber, are at any given time, then opening that up to brands so they can send targeted location-based offers, messages and deals to devices with geo-targeted SMS messages.

Indoor location-based tech, Khan says, is used in instances when GPS and tower triangulation fails and is often based on WiFi signals. Over the last 12 months or so, the LBMA had also seen  the use of a lot of Bluetooth low energy, popularized by Apple’s iBeacon technology. It’s very precise, he says, with accuracy down to one or two feet as opposed to the roughly three metre accuracy enabled by GPS.

“That’s important, because when you think about a grocery environment, that means we can know not just that someone is in a particular store, but that they’re in the store and standing in front of the Coke display,” says Khan.

The Future

“It’s not the next platform after social media that we need to turn our attention to, but in fact it’s a platform that powers all media”

Even newer technologies, like magnetic positioning, lie on the horizon, as well as an impending revaluation of what constitutes a mobile device. According to Khan, the car is the next mobile device, wherein a vehicle’s navigation screen becomes as relevant as a smart phone screen. Cars will be sold in deals including WiFi and LTE.

But, what the future really holds, is a more powerful location-based infrastructure, which will continue to drive the revolution to its ultimate conclusion: a complete understanding about what location-based marketing really means for advertising.

“It’s not the next platform after social media that we need to turn our attention to, but in fact it’s a platform that powers all media,” says Khan.

Remember the maxim: awareness of location is interesting, but it’s the action it enables that makes it very important.

About Jonathan Paul

Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based freelance writer who specializes in the Canadian advertising and marketing beat. He has written for major industry publications including Marketing and Strategy. At the latter he was senior writer for four years, crafting all sorts of stories on the advertising and marketing tactics of big brands including Microsoft, Coca-Cola, UFC Canada and Tim Hortons, all whilst keeping a finger on the pulse of international creativity, technology and trends. An avid scribe, both personally and professionally, he’s also an imagineer, information disseminator, media junkie, videogame enthusiast and, admittedly, a comic book nerd.

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