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Geofencing: Real-time advertising directly to your phone

If you’re a marketer, you might’ve heard your peers talking about geofencing. Since this technology is relatively new, few people understand exactly what it is and why marketers are using it. To put it in layman’s terms it is like the invisible fences people put in place so their dog doesn’t leave the yard. Geofencing is similar to this, but it uses virtual points from a GPS rather than physical devices under the ground tracking your movement and rather than tracking your furry friend, it just tracks you.

As administrator, you can utilize Google Maps or web-based maps to target a particular area by creating a designated area – geofenced area – to track who enters and leaves it. The area can range from a whole city to just a given street. Administrators often take a passive or active approach to keeping track of data. Passive administrators rely on tracking devices with Wi-Fi or relevant cellular data, while active administrators need users to have both their location services on and specific applications on their phone, though the application choices are vast!

Some households have the technology in place so when they leave their house the thermostat will lower the temperature to a preset number. Human resource management can even use the system with employee’s smart cards. If an employee enters an area they aren’t authorized to enter, the administrator would receive a notification. So besides just knowing where you’re at and when you go there, why does this matter to marketers? Real-time digital advertising.

When a customer walks into a geofenced area, coupon codes can be sent to their mobile device immediately. That means customers may be drawn to a store while in close vicinity to it. And administrators are using newer strategies for their geofencing campaigns as well. Think about it. A geofenced area doesn’t have to be in the radius of your actual company. For example, some restaurants set up geofences around a concert or big event. When the concert is over, concert goers begin receiving push notifications to grab a bite to eat after the event.

Though, like any new technology, geofencing has its pros and cons. The foot traffic that the stores receive from geofencing doesn’t guarantee that the customer will buy something, but getting them in the store is a good start. At the same time, a customer won’t miss out on a deal or an event and gets ads delivered that they actually care to see. If their favorite place to get coffee is Starbucks and they’re offering a great deal that day, the customer might’ve never found the coupon without a geofenced ad.

Then, there’s the issue of privacy. If you’re a little creeped out, I understand. It seems that with all the latest technology our society loses a little more of its privacy. For example, a geofence company has a partnership with Foursquare allowing the application to occasionally check you into a location…without your expressed consent. It’s our recommendation that advertisers consider carefully how they use this information – focused on keeping an ethical distance from personal data, informing users how their data could be used and offering users a way to opt-out.

Keeping those things in mind, if used strategically, geofencing is an excellent tool to create a personalized digital experience for your consumers. What are your thoughts on the digital age of marketing?

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