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Marks & Spencer debuts carrier-powered location-based mobile campaigns

January 28, 2011

Marks & Spencer is ramping up its mobile marketing and commerce initiatives

British retail giants Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser are distributing location-based mobile coupons to opted-in O2 subscribers.

The retailers are using the “You Are Here” location-based mobile marketing service from Telefonica’s O2, the second-largest carrier in Britain. With You Are Here, which is powered by Placecast, O2 customers receive messages from their favorite brands when they enter an area near a store.

“O2 subscribers opt-in to the O2 program through their portal, then they are eligible to begin receiving offers from a variety of brands like M&S and House of Fraser,” said Alistair Goodman, CEO of Placecast, San Francisco. “More than 500 geofences are active around M&S and House of Fraser stores.

“When O2 subscribers are inside the geofence, they receive a tailored offer from a store nearby,” he said. “Many of the offers include a specific discount and code for each individual store.

“From post-holiday sales to new products, promotions can be different at each store, and change as frequently as daily.”

Location-targeting makes marketing messages immediately actionable
Founded in 1884, M&S is known for selling clothing and luxury food products, and has more than 700 stores in Britain and more than 300 stores in 40-plus additional countries.

M&S offers a free smoothie with the purchase of a Simply Fuller Longer sandwich or salad in the store via the “You Are Here” messages.

More than 2 million people shopped at M&S on their mobile phone last year.

Established in 1849, House of Fraser is a department store with 60-plus stores in Britain and Ireland.

House of Fraser is using the program to send O2 users several different offers, from discounts on an entire purchase to a free hot drink with any other purchase.

To receive messages and coupons from Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser and other participating brands and retailers, customers must opt-into the You Are Here service, which is offered by O2 More, the mobile marketing arm of O2.

A Placecast geofence around a retail location

More than 1.1 million O2 customers have opted in to date.

Placecast has created geofences around selected bricks-and-mortar locations and provides the cutting-edge technology used to deliver location-based text messages from brands such as Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser, Starbucks and L’Oreal.

Geofences are virtual perimeters around real-world geographic areas such as stores, restaurants, parks, entertainment venues and other points of interest.

Once consumers opt into the O2 More services, they provide specifics about age, gender, interests and location.

“You Are Here” runs while consumers go about their shopping day, with no application or check-in required.

The messages are an automated service, requiring no action from the consumer.

Because the program is SMS-based, it works on any mobile phone – not just smartphones. 

When shoppers are located in specific geofenced areas, they receive text messages from brands.

Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser are using Placecast’s geofence technology combined with information around consumer interests to deliver targeted, relevant SMS and MMS to consumers to drive foot traffic to their stores.

O2 first launched its location services in Britain in October last year, with Starbucks and L’Oreal as the first brands on board.

The carrier claims that it protects its customers’ privacy by not sharing the data with any other customers or third parties and manages the number and relevancy of all messages. Customers can opt-out of the service at any time.

Placecast provides the geofencing technology, message management, research and reporting capabilities that power this program.

The O2 team uses the Placecast platform to create geofences around stores, events and other locations.

“O2 subscribers that have opted-into the You Are Here program receive special offers available nearby,” Mr. Goodman said.

“For brands, it combines immediate reach on mobile – since the service works on any phone – with a high degree of relevance because the offer can be fulfilled immediately nearby,” he said.

“It also cuts through the clutter, as most consumers open an SMS immediately – and because there is not an app to turn on, the consumer is getting a simple message when they are in a mindset to take action.”

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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