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January 10, 2017

With the new year upon us, it's time to dig into some 2017 location-based marketing trends. More and more smartphones are entering the market—eMarketer projects that there will be 2.32 billion smartphone users worldwide in 2017—and that means more sensors and location-awareness capabilities to take advantage of.
Big players in 2017 will undoubtedly include the iPhone 7 and iOS 10. While the new iPhone boasts numerous changes and enhancements, one of the biggest areas of emphasis for the phone and its bigger brother (the iPhone 7 Plus) is the camera. This is an important development, particularly as it relates to content creation and augmented reality.

Unfortunately Samsung, who announced a recall of its newest offering, the Galaxy Note 7, earlier this fall, set the smartphone market back a bit. This is, of course, good news for other mobile phone manufacturers like Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo, which analyst firm IDC reports are growing in market share, thus driving an increase in innovation.

Given the continued growth of mobile Internet, mobile social, and mobile commerce, it makes good sense for retailers to keep a close eye on the following 2017 location-based marketing trends:

1. Context
If you don't know who, when, or where your target customer is, your message may be ignored, but that's not the worst-case scenario; a poorly targeted message can harm your brand. Conversely, getting the who, when, and where right can increase the chances of a sale. Let's say a company like Graco, whose customers are expectant parents, sees a prime pair of candidates driving to breakfast at Starbucks—why wouldn't they want to do everything in their power to steer the couple to a local Target or Costco to buy their products?

2. Paid Social
Organic social media engagement is still important, but achieving reach for a brand these days requires paid social. As Marketing Land states, 80 percent of all social media time is now spent on a mobile device. Beyond just having better targeting than traditional digital advertising, most social platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, allow marketers to target by location.

3. Passive Beacons
Bluetooth low energy beacons have been around for a few years now. Experts have long predicted their role in unlocking in-store discovery and sales, but it is becoming apparent that beacons may have more utility in a passive (collecting data, reacting to requests) versus active (offering an ad or a recipe on a mobile app) role. Because so many retailers are starting to find better ways to collect, ingest, and process big pools of data, unlocking the potential of a passive beacon can go a long way toward providing better context.

4. Augmented Reality
It's almost impossible to have avoided hearing about the power of virtual and augmented reality, but you may not have considered how it can enhance in-store experiences by helping shoppers find products, prices, reviews, and other relevant information, such as calorie and nutritional data. Think of the power of augmented reality for applications like Yelp or Waze, where special glasses or a projection onto a car windshield could provide real-time restaurant referrals, driving directions, and warnings.

≥≥ Need a Shortcut?

  1. When it comes to location-based marketing, context around the customer is more critical than ever. It can make or break a smart campaign.
  2. As mobile advertising explodes, and 80 percent of social media activity takes place in the mobile channel, paid social is more critical than ever.
  3. Technologies like Bluetooth low energy beacons and augmented reality give marketers new tools to enhance their customers' experiences.

Aaron Strout is the CMO for the network of integrated marketing and communications agencies, W2O Group. He is a monthly contributor on mobile/location-based marketing for Marketing Land and the co-author of Location-Based Marketing for Dummies.
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