July 06, 2010

With endless talk about check-ins and mayorships it is easy to get swept away by the mystique of location-based marketing and for good reason. That famous anecdote about reaching an unsuspecting consumer with the very right offer as they stroll by a storefront is hard to ignore. The fact is, though, that mass adoption is still a bit away. But fire up Foursquare now because before we know it, all interactive marketing will be location-based.

Here are five reasons why and what is means for you...

- Desktops are dead. A recent Student Monitor study found that only 2% of college students are planning on purchasing desktops (down from 7% in '04). The writing is on the wall: young people are going solely mobile with their computing. In short order, all computing devices will all have one thing in common: GPS integration. All digital marketing will soon have the ability to leverage game-changing geo-data.

- Smartphone adoption will hit critical mass. Most marketers are shocked to learn that despite the industry mystique with iPhone apps, only 12% of all consumers under 24 actually even own an iPhone, according to a recent eMarketer study and less than a third own any type of smartphone. That is all about to change; Nielsen is predicting that half of all U.S. cell phone users will own a smartphone by the end of 2011. We are betting that far more of those under 24 will own one.

- Privacy is not nearly as important for most teens as the media portrays it. Although studies will point you to both sides of this issue, most teens will tell you that they value staying connected and social far more than they do privacy. The fact is, when prompted to share their locations most teens will indeed opt-in at a disproportionate rate, fueling the location revolution exponentially.

- Most young people are single. Make no mistake, the same core driver of Facebook will drive the growth of location-based services: hooking up. Teens and college students are drooling at the ability to let that special someone know exactly where they are and track those they are prowling for. Case in point, a recent Forrester study showed that 80% of Foursquare users are males, like on the hunt!

- Mobile data costs are decreasing by upwards of 25% every year. This is a major inhibitor of smartphone growth as many parents currently don't want to bear the costs of data access on top of traditional calling plans. Once data costs become a no-brainer, the current demand will quickly convert to market penetration.
What this all means is that soon all interactive marketing will be location-based. With rampant smartphone adoption, a market dying to share its location with the world, and the overwhelming desire to "hook up," brands will be deluged with a real-time treasure trove of location information that will forever change the way we market.
Here are ways you can start preparing, right now:

- Create integration points of loyalty and rewards systems. Game mechanics are seeping into nearly every aspect of our lives. Consumers will grow to expect rewards (both intrinsic and monetary) for not only shopping but actually visiting your location whether it is an actual store or a display within a big-box retailer.

- Get ready to be hyper-local with your messaging. A consumer's location will leapfrog to the top data point of behavioral targeting efforts. Brands will need to be equipped to get hyper-local with their messaging based on not only geographic information (L.A. vs. N.Y.) but place-based data (coffee shop vs. office vs. mall), equating to far more customization in creative content. The integration of open-graph data will make these data even more powerful.

- Get "mobile social" ... fast. Due to the lack of smartphone penetration among teens, mobile social is still in the dark ages, but the meteoric rise of social networking activities combined with accelerated smartphone adoption will force brands to enter this new space. The role of social media will soon evolve to connecting people physically rather than just virtually. Brands should be front and center in the facilitation of real-world connections.

The world is about to get a whole lot smaller for digital marketers. Geo-targeting will continue to birth a new wave of technologies, experts, and devices built to deliver relevant information based on where you are, not just who you are. Brands can prepare by adopting a new framework for how it will serve the expectations of consumers and it should be surprise that the youth market will once again be at the forefront of this revolution.

By Matt Britton
Matt Britton currently serves as founder & CEO of N.Y.-based social marketing agency Mr Youth. Since 2002, Mr Youth has worked with some of the world's leading brands, including Pepsi, Staples, Kellogg, JetBlue, T-Mobile, J&J, and Nestle, to help them connect with this rapidly evolving and highly elusive consumer. The agency was recently named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies in Advertising/Marketing.
Courtesy of MediaPost

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