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Location-based mobile offers key to driving in-store visits: CTIA panelist

March 24, 2011

Multiple brands and retailers have launched geofences and are distributing mobile coupons via ShopAlerts by AT&T

ORLANDO, FL – A panelist at International CTIA said that 2010 was the year of mobile apps, but in 2011 retailers will shift their focus to delivering relevant, location-based offers to consumers on their mobile devices to drive them in-store.

The “Hit the Target: Location Based Advertising” session explored location-based services and how they promises big returns through linking a user’s physical location with key consumer demographics. The panel was moderated by Linda Barrabee, research director of connected intelligence at NPD Group, Boston.

“I think 2010 was the year of apps and everyone was trying them and playing with them and now those apps and all the other solutions are starting to scale,” said Allistair Goodman, CEO of Placecast, San Francisco. “Now, it’s about the reality of delivering relevant offers to consumers that drive them in the stores and being able to measure that.

“We track visits to a store and we’re seeing anywhere from 11 to 35 and sometimes 50 percent of consumers that are actually going into stores after getting served an ad and in many cases making purchases,” he said.

Deal me in
According to the panelists, delivering highly relevant deals and incentives are key to getting consumers in-store.

Consumers are past the desire of simply getting served an ad. They want to see deals and they want to see local retailers and restaurants offering them an incentive to come to their locations.

“It’s about the geofence,” said Mort Greenberg, head of sales at Navteq, New York. “The smaller your fence, the smaller your volume.

“Now there’s almost a demand for location-based services,” he said. “If you can tell someone how close they are to your location, it should improve their ability to click on the ad.

“Brands want to transact and sell products through that mobile channel.”

Location, location, location
The panelists agreed that it is not only about serving ads by location.

If the ads feature a coupon or a deal, they should be relevant to the consumer and also to the time of day.

“You want to run a coffee ad in the morning and not in the afternoon,” Mr. Greenberg said.

According to Placecast’s Mr. Goodman, what has to happen and what is an unexploited opportunity is that carriers need to get on board with location-based services.

“For a long time carriers were focused on building their subscriber list, but now location-based services are a source to build their revenue,” Mr. Goodman said.

“Carriers should change the way they think about their business model  and the most innovative companies are certainly beginning to do that,” he said. 

Chung Cheong, vice president of AT&T, San Francisco, agreed with Mr. Goodman that at some point carriers run out of mobile subscribers and are always looking at the next step.

“We do have some fairly interesting data about our consumers,” Mr. Cheong said. “But we’re being very privacy-conscious about how we do that.

“We’re really starting to see some experimentation of what really works in mobile,” he said. 

Privacy please
In terms of privacy, Placecast’s Mr. Goodman said that consumers are willing to share their location data, provided that they get something back in return.  However, they are not comfortable in companies broadcasting their data.

“I think if there’s a good exchange of value then the consumer will be happy,” Mr. Goodman said.

According to Andrew Osis, president/CEO of Poynt, Calgary, AB, it is not just about the location, but also about the context.

“We didn’t have those two variables when we started on the Web,” Mr. Osis said, “The device itself is personal, it’s not something you share.

“There’s one person using it and you can really discern things with the usage pattern,” he said. “You see the patterns of the users and engage them further – it’s showing those results and providing feedback to the advertisers.

“Certainly there was a lot of experimentation that went on last year, but people are willing to put bigger dollars on location-based services because they see results and their competitors see results.”

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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