With ‘Micro-Fencing,’ Digital Factory Aims To Help Brands Deliver Better Messages

By building hyper-customized geo-fences, the company believes it can give consumers more relevant offers — and show them the benefits of location alerts.

Digital Factory’s Lawrence Griffith

With only half of consumers currently leaving on app location services, brands can miss out on communicating with their shoppers, particularly during the crucial in-store moment — but mobile tech company Digital Factory aims to change that by helping brands create more relevant messages with its “micro-fencing” technology.

By enabling brands to provide customized location-based offers, like reminding shoppers to buy milk when they walk into the grocery, Digital Factory looks to increase awareness of how “spatial engagement” can improve the purchase experience in a non-intrusive way — and boost future opt-ins as a result.

“It’s all about using location-based means to deliver relevant offers or communication from apps,” said Lawrence Griffith, Digital Factory’s CEO. “But only through content that — and this is the key — through content that users have already chosen.”

GeoMarketing: How does Digital Factory use location data to help brands get more out of their mobile apps? And what’s the idea behind “micro-fencing?”

Lawrence Griffith: Well, geo-fencing accuracy can be off by maybe about a thousand feet. Meaning that if you open up something like FriendFinder or even your Google Maps, you might be in one place, but it may see you as being up to a thousand feet away.

Micro-fencing allows us to build a hyper-accurate geo-fence around something as small as a street corner. We can actually put two micro-fences within close proximity of each other, and then have them deliver two different types of content. For example with micro-fencing I can put one at one street corner, put another one at the opposite street corner, and depending on what businesses are sitting on those street corners, deliver messages accordingly.

How does micro-fencing work in practice?

We can also change the shape of our micro-fences and make them an octagon, or a hexagon, or a square, which allows us to put it right up next to a front door. Then, lastly and most importantly, we’ve created an algorithm that allows us to create a geo-fence within a geo-fence. So when a consumer hits the first one it wakes up their GPS, and then when they hit the second one it delivers the content flawlessly every single time. So that addresses the issues of accuracy, and that’s a way that [we can really] play with location to deliver better communication between brands and their customers.

What other use cases are there?

The second key piece is that our goal is centered on making the human experience better through spatial engagement. What that ultimately means is the problem that we really want to solve for is simply this: There are plenty of businesses that have spent millions of dollars building apps and driving consumers to download them to very little gain. Because usually a consumer will use an app seven to eight times before they forget they have it, right?

We plug our micro-fencing technology into those apps to cause it to talk to you first at the right time and right place. The reason why you downloaded a restaurant app to begin with is you may like the food, but you want to open and order food. If you deliver a message when the consumer is in the restaurant, or is hungry, then that’s relevant, right?

[Essentially,] it’s using location-based means to deliver relevant offers or communication from apps, but only through content that — and this is the key — through content that you’ve already chosen.

How do you address the difficulty getting consumers to share their location?

We know that although 80 percent of consumers agree that location tech is meaningful and relevant, only 50 percent are actually using it. That’s going to increase over time, of course.

Getting the initial opt-in is really a concern for the app owner, i.e. McDonald’s, Macy’s, and others. But once they have that, [relevant offers] are what keep people engaged or get them to keep or turn location services on.

We’re not trying to drive you to download something that we don’t even know if you want. It’s all about, “How can we deliver the content you’ve already chosen?”

Whether that means you walk into a grocery store and you have the grocery store app on your phone and when you walk in it says, “Hey, you bought milk two weeks ago, it’s probably time to buy milk now. It’s on sale on aisle two.” That’s helpful, that’s not selling you anything, but it’s helpful and relevant to your life and it betters the human experience and at the end of the day. That’s what spatial engagement technology really should be about.

Tell me more about how a Digital Factory-powered campaign operates. How has Digital Factory driven results for brands using “micro-fencing?”

One good example of that is our partnership with Ford.

Ford sponsors a huge event called the Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards, where they leverage the audience at the event to get consumers to test drive their new cars. There are groups of folks that go to the Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards every single year. I think it’s up to about thirty-to-forty thousand people that attend over a four-day period, from Thursday to Sunday. Now all those folks have already downloaded the Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards app. They’re used to having it, it’s on their phone, so driving the engagement there is where we come in.

We partnered with Ford as the sponsor, and we set micro-fences all around the event. Specifically at the entrance and exit, so that when folks walked in they got some messaging that said, “Hey come test drive the new Ford.” They know Ford’s the sponsor. They’re used to seeing the brand, so it wasn’t like it was something foreign or new to them.

It wasn’t like they saw it as something intrusive because it was something that was recognizable coming from an app that they had already downloaded. By only delivering relevant content through something that is recognizable by the consumer, we sort of bypass the hurdle of being intrusive. [And the Ford campaign], which delivered 18,000 notifications, had a 27 percent conversion rate from the first click. Ultimately, that accelerated test drives by 60 percent over Ford’s goal and nearly doubled the previous year’s number.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.