Growing Consumer Acceptance of Geolocation Services is Good News for Marketers

When geolocation services arrived on the scene, they faced a big hurdle. A significant number of consumers feared their mobile devices would become even more of a digital lease and then there was the challenge of figuring out how to use the feature. Those problems have eased and analysts believe marketers can now connect with consumers through geolocation services.

eMarketer divides the geolocation market into two segments: location-based information such as maps and directions and geosocial check-in services. In the past year, consumer use of both kinds of services has increased and stands at the following percentages:

  • Smartphone location-based information 74%
  • Mobile phone location-based information 46%
  • Total U.S. Adults 41%
  •  Smartphone geosocial check-in services 18%
  • Mobile phone geosocial check-in services 11%
  • Total U.S. Adults 10%

According to a recently published Pew Internet & American Life Project study, consumers are looking for maps and for review information on nearby businesses when they access location-based data via their smartphones.  The number of consumers seeking information this way jumped nearly 20% in the past year and is likely due to the widespread adoption of smartphones in general.

eMarketer analysts point out that the logical path for marketers is to connect with consumers in several ways as the geolocation trend grows:

  • Geotargeted alerts
  • Local/social networking tactics
  • Location-based loyalty programs
  • Geofencing

Analysts believe the social network channel will prove particularly promising. The number of mobile Facebook users is on track to grow from 69.8 million to 102.1 million between now and 2014. Over 85% of these users will access the social site through their mobile devices. The geofencing strategy is also appealing as marketers can “push” messages to consumers who have both opted-in and entered a virtually designated geographic space.

But marketers must remain cautious in their use of this technology and respect the boundaries that consumers set with respect to privacy concerns or the ground they have gained could be quickly lost.

[Sources: Geolocation Services Offer New Frontier to Marketers. 1 Aug. 2012. Web. 15 Aug. 2012;  Rainie and Fox. Just-in-time Information. PewInternet​.org. 7 May 2012. Web. 15 Aug. 2012]
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.