Location-Data Use Cases Moving Beyond Ads And Into Healthcare, Customer Service

The geo-location marketplace is maturing, says The LBMA, as beacons, NFC, GPS, and wi-fi are set to grow by double digits.

The role of location technology for business services is remains primarily focused on targeting consumers with offers to drive in-store purchases, but use of geo-data and proximity signals will become much more mainstream this year, the Location Based Marketing Association (LBMA) says in its first Global Location Trends Report. (Read the release).

But the emphasis on advertising is starting to influence other areas of business, as roughly 66 percent of global brands anticipate employing the technology in non-marketing areas of operations, such as customer services or public safety, and healthcare.

The findings were released during the LBMA’s RetailLoco event at SxSW on Sunday March 13.

Geo-Data Is Vital, But Accuracy Is Not Trust

“We are excited to bring this first look at the brand marketers’ view of location technology and data on a global scale,” said Asif Khan, head of the LBMA. “Our report validates the importance of looking at location as the “cookie for the physical world. It’s the only piece of data that enables us to see the effectiveness of mobile, DOOH, TV, radio, IoT and more all at once.”

The LBMA’s report looked at how 253 major brands, including Coca-Cola, consumer packaged goods giant Mondelez International, car maker BMW, UK grocer Tesco, Starbucks, and Singapore streaming service Starhub are presently using geomarketing solutions, what investment they’re making in it and what their future plans are for implementing this technology.

The online study was conducted by Fresh Intelligence and spanned the U.S., Canada, Germany, UK, and Singapore.

Among the topline findings:

  • 75 percent of marketers believe geo-based marketing is an important business issue for 2016.
  • Although 77 percent of those brands concur that geo-data is indeed vital, 65 percent don’t trust the accuracy of the location information they’re getting.
  • A decent 3.3 percent growth in spend is planned in 2016. However, for location marketing to really take off and fulfill its potential, the key will be verifying, standardizing, and anonymizing the data so it’s actionable without sparking fears of privacy invasion.
  • All location technologies – beacons, NFC, GPS, and wi-fi — are set to grow by double digits, with 63 percent of marketers planning to invest in wi-fi, 57 percent of marketers planning to invest in GPS, 46 percent NFC and 41 percent in beacons in 2016.
  • Social location services tops the areas of interest for marketers, with 48 percent saying they’re interested in using social apps and location technologies to drive customers in store.
  • Location based advertising and the Internet of Things follow in second and third place, with 43 percent and 36 percent respectively

“As tech becomes more visible and integrated into every part of our lives, shoppers will expect greater engagement, personalization and convenience in our shopping experiences. Location based data is critical to engineering relevant ‘shoppable’ moments or ‘buy now’ opportunities. This research is extremely valuable for retail agencies like TPN,” said Manolo Almagro, TPN Retail’s senior managing director for Innovation + Retail Technology.

Current level of investment in location across nations: The LBMA
Current level of investment in location across nations: The LBMA

“This report proves that location data is of huge value to the world’s biggest advertisers,” said Thomas Walle, CEO and co-founder of proximity ad targeting network Unacast. “The issue to date has been using it due to the fragmentation of the proximity industry. Unacast has spent the last 12 months solving this challenge, successfully aggregating, standardizing and tagging it from independent providers around the world so its full potential for marketers and consumers can now be realized.”

Healthcare, Customer Service Emerge As Location Drivers

In a preview of the report on Saturday at the Retail Innovation Lounge run by Kwolia (full disclosure, GeoMarketing and its parent company Yext, were media partners in that SxSW event), Khan talked about healthcare and customer service uses as starting to become more prevalent when it comes to location tech.

“Location is becoming pervasive across all industries and verticals and in particular, the early manifestation of that is happening in customer service, in public safety, in healthcare, even manufacturing, Khan said. “It’s being driven from the idea that so much of the focus has been on beacons. And it’s really not about beacons; it’s actually about sensors and we think about the ability to understand where all these sensors are from is opening up a whole new world of activation between businesses and their customers.”

In terms of customer service functions, the rise of social media and the inherent connection to a specific place someone is Facebooking, Tweeting, Snapchatting from, the idea of employing those signals as part of a broader CRM strategy is gaining acceptance.

“Increasingly we are turning to mobile location technology to help solve key customer problems in our stores,” said Brendan Wright, Walmart Labs’ director for International Mobile Product Management. “A great example of this is our ‘check-in’ functionality, which uses mobile location services to allow a customer to ‘check-in’ via mobile to save time collecting their online order from a store. This new research from the LBMA supports the work we are doing.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.