Location Based Marketing. The concept is really simple. We identify a place on a map, create a virtual fence (geofence) around it, and call it a Point of Interest (POI). When customers cross the boundaries of our geofence, we record their presence and decide if we need to trigger an event i.e. an ad. But, is location information alone enough to create context? Do latitude and longitude still provide the ultimate marketing signal?

Are We Big Brothers?

Geolocated Mobile adNo, we are not. Marketers understand that they need to interact with their customers throughout the whole purchase journey. Today, that mostly happens in the digital space and close to half the path is on mobile devices. Many will see the use of mobile location information for marketing purposes an Orwellian idea. It was George Orwell who brought the image of “Big Brother” in his book 1984. Interestingly enough, the party slogan in that book carries additional connotations for marketing and location information: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

Location Based MarketingToday, technology allows marketers to collect and store your current location information. Therefore, they can have and manage a clear picture of your past location behavior. The use of your location history allows marketers to find patterns and infer your future actions. Hence, they can influence the future. It is not a surprise that Facebook announced that they are joining the group of Location Based Advertising companies to “…drive people to … stores and measure the amount of store visits and in-store sales following their … mobile ad campaigns.”

Mobile Location Based Marketing – Evolving from POI to MOI

The POI makes it possible to comprehend the customer “here and now.” But location alone does not create context. If I never eat in a QSR, an ad for McDonalds most probably will be noise, no matter how close I am.

The use of Location as a cookie, allows marketers to put the customer in a particular context. For example, if my friend Geo-DNA shows 90% of her past activity in FL, her current location in NYC puts her in the “visitor/tourist/out of town” context. Moreover, if her Geo-DNA shows many sandwich shops visits in FL, sending an ad with a discount for the closest Subway is not advertising IT IS A SERVICE. But wait, other signals must be considered. What time is it? Are we sending an ad for breakfast or lunch? Is that Subway open now? And those are just a few to start.

MOI - Maps and Points of InterestsTo create that “magic moment” where an ad becomes a service, we need to have much more than bare Lat-Lon information. We need to elevate the concept of maps from cartography to MAPS as an acronym of Mobile People, their current and past Activities, Places, and the Synergies created. Those that can successfully intersect many signals can trace the customer to what I call a Moment of Interest (MOI).

Therefore, next time you look to implement a mobile marketing campaign, ask if you can reach customers at the right MOI.

What is your take?