With a quarter of the mobile phone-owning population using smartphones, more of us owning laptops than desktops, and so many GPS-equipped vehicles on the road, it’s fair to say that the mobile-yet-connected population segment is rising quickly. For those on the move, GPS technologies deliver information and direction—and now geolocational services offer to steer users toward deals and brands, as location-aware marketing ramps up. As numerous surveys indicate, one of the most frequent activities on the mobile web is searching for directions on digital maps—Googling where we’re going is a habit fast becoming a part of our digital lifestyles. And with that comes opportunities for the next generation of mobile digital advertising with GPS functionality.
Geo-fencing is the practice of establishing a “virtual field around any location that is used to trigger a mobile marketing message to a user when they enter or exit the area,” and it is predicted to be a major trend. Those in the business of building geofencing (including mobile marketing location-aware apps and platforms) such as Placecast, envision a system where retailers can capture foot traffic in precise areas. Customers can opt-in to receive relevant, timely, and highly customized commercial messages, in real-time, corresponding to their vicinity. Call it promotional proximity.
Do consumers want these geocoded services? Market research suggests that many of us do, especially the infovores among us who crave information-rich services to increase efficiency. But those who give the nod to GPS apps are not just seeking notices about sales—beyond maps there is demand for GPS to help track the whereabouts of our social graph. In the geolocationally augmented city (these technologies are about urban digital culture, of course) there are GPS dating services, GPS pet tracking and family finding services, and social networks based on proximity—Foursquare comes to mind, but so does the branded Absolut GPS iPhone app(vert) network, connecting vodka drinkers across the globe.
What this means is that in a culture built on GPS location aware maps and apps, certain restaurants and shops, products and events, not to mention people, will appear in the field of vision while others, disconnected, are virtually invisible.
It appears increasingly imperative that individuals, businesses and organizations consider creative geotagging strategies to plot ourselves, light our digital beacons, and erect some form of geofencing, to remain situationally-relevant, and to avoid disappearing from the new wave of cybermaps, vanishing in the eyes of the mobile connected class as they move through geo-loco augmented terrains in our not-too-distant future.