Why 2012 is the year for location based marketing.

Following a landmark year for location based services, mobile marketers are looking towards 2012 as the year when location based technology will pervade many of the services available on users’ handsets.

Last year Foursquare reported that over 15 million users and 600,000 businesses had joined the platform, resulting in over a billion check-ins. Location technology is firmly on the radar for many leading brands, and makes up a key part of the agenda at SMWF Europe in London in March.

Last month Facebook confirmed it was stepping up its assault on the lucrative location-sharing market with the acquisition of Gowalla in early December, expected to close as a stand-alone service later this month.

The increasing spread of ever more sophisticated smartphone handsets, combined with the continuing development of apps powered by geolocation technology, like that from companies like Navteq, is crucial to this developing trend, providing a whole new angle of relevance for marketers and brands.

Navteq, one of the leading providers of location data for developers, said:

“Hyper-local mobile advertising can target consumers in a non-intrusive way when they are near a merchant’s location and then guide them to the front door. This effectively transforms mobile into a direct response channel for retail, restaurants, cinemas, petrol stations, and any business that benefits from getting consumers in the door.”

Savvy marketers are now using location-based technology to reach potential customers in the immediate vicinity. Business listings on services like Foursquare, Loopt, Brightkite, and Google Places have become crucial weapons in the marketing arsenal as the industry waits for this trend to explode across the world.

The rise of social check-in apps has added a new dimension to the trend, using reward, word of mouth recommendation and viral to directly influence peoples’ purchasing behaviour. They allow businesses to interact directly with customers, creating communities with an added level of engagement based in real-world behaviours.

This year’s Social Media World Forum Europe will be looking in-depth at location based marketing, covering topics including:

• Harnessing the power of mobile data through location based apps – how to turn location information into consumer engagement?

• Location triggered mobile couponing / deals opportunities for large brands and local businesses

• Analyse of consumer behaviour – who are the consumers of location based services (who, how many, how old), what do they respond to well and how can you most effectively manage your communication / relationship with them?

• Are these social tools going to bring about a mobile commerce revolution?

• Using the mobile presence of facebook to promote deals, sales and encourage on the move purchases

For more information on this year’s event please visit the Social Media World Forum website.

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