One of the most frequent questions people ask me is, “What’s the future of location-based marketing?” That’s a tough question to answer. Given how the channel continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, it can be precarious for even the most knowledgeable of prognosticators to make predictions. Just a few years ago, for example, we were discussing the merits of Loopt, Gowalla, Whrrl and Foursquare. Flash forward to today, and the first three have been acquired while the latter has exploded, with more than 25 million people now using Foursquare.
But let's give it a shot. Over the next three years, location-based marketing will shift from being its own independent channel to becoming a tactic that’s baked into every form of marketing. In order to prepare you for what's to come (and have some fun), here are four predictions for location-based marketing in 2015:
1) Location-based sharing (check-ins) becomes part of every update and action users take from their mobile devices – but with a twist.
As location-based sharing becomes prevalent, users will shift from public check-ins to only sharing location-based updates with family, friends and brands they trust to enrich their experience. Constantly streaming one's location will enable users to communicate more effectively with close friends and to also to receive deeply-personalized experiences from the technology and brands they trust. As more and more location data continues to be created, marketers will need to learn to harness and tie together location-based data — along with all forms of customer data — in order to deliver the most timely and relevant content to customers.
2) Location-based sharing becomes an easier — and passive — action.
As privacy and security with location-based sharing continue to improve, it will also become easier for consumers to automatically share their location. In-store purchases will become more closely linked with location-based sharing, and near field communication (NFC) will play a role in enabling consumers to automatically share their location when they walk into new locations.
3) Google "Glasses" — and similar products — create the most sophisticated location-based marketing palette yet.
As more and more people adopt Google "Glasses" and the lines between the physical and digital world continue to blur, everything you see and do will be tailored according to your location. As Google learns exactly where you are and what you’re doing at all times, it will deliver tailored news, information and even offers to users via Google Glasses. Imagine receiving real-time traffic reports for your location or receiving dining offers for locations along your driving route. These ideas will become a reality with Google Glasses.
4) Foursquare remains an independent social network – but not in its current format.
In 2015, Foursquare will be known predominantly for its location-based travel and restaurant recommendations, as opposed to location-based check ins. As location-based sharing becomes more and more commonplace, a central network for check-ins will no longer be needed. Instead, Foursquare will continue to expands its personalized recommendations through its Explore features and will become the go-to place for recommendations on where to dine, shop and tour anywhere in the world.
What are your predictions for location-based marketing in 2015? Share your thoughts below.
1) “Check-ins and Gamification: Bringing the Magic Back to Marketing” (blog)
2) “7 Tips for Getting Started with Location-Based Marketing” (tip sheet)
3) “Calculating the Value of a Check-in” (blog)