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Google bets on geo-fencing

Many view geo-fencing and location-based marketing as a technology that will redefine the marketplace. At the company’s 2013 I/O event held earlier this month, Google announced three location services APIs designed to help developers create accurate and efficient apps that are location-aware which would enable businesses and retailers to target customers with special offers and messages based on their proximity.

Many view geo-fencing and location-based marketing as a technology that will redefine the marketplace.
Many view geo-fencing and location-based marketing as a technology that will redefine the marketplace.
Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Geo-fencing technology will ensure that ads, promotions, and deals will increasingly be tailored for individual users. Through Google’s new Fused Location Provider and Activity Recognition APIs (along with their geo-fencing API), developers will have the power to customize an app that will provide businesses and retailers with more information about their customers.

Last year, Philips also announced that it is partnering with Apple on a smart LED light bulm that features geo-fencing technologies. Its “Hue” lighting system will allows users to control wireless-enabled LED light bulbs inside their homes from an iOS app. Most interesting of all is how Philips is utilizing geo-fencing technology by allowing lights to turn on or off depending on the location of an individual.

What’s helping the technology is that more Android devices are supporting geo-fencing. For now, privacy concerns have been trumped by the prospect of commercial gains although this will likely be a sticking point in Europe and privacy groups in the United States.

“Geo-fencing enables retailers or businesses to recognize customers when they are within a predetermined radius around a specific location; sending them messages and special offers designed to encourage them to walk into the store, make a purchase or get engaged with an event,” according to mobimanage, a mobile tech company based in Arizona. “With some of the programs already in place being an opt-in choice on behalf of the consumer, merchants are delivering offers to consumers who have already expressed an interest in receiving them.”

With the technology, messages and special offers are sent to the customer as a way to encourage them to walk into a business and purchase an item. Moreover, it also allows a business to send content to customers based on criteria and/or data, such as location, type of device, past usage, and even language. In a sense, it is personalized advertising at its best.

Google’s entry into geo-fencing has validated the technology. It also signals to the market that customized marketing is the wave of the future. Ad and email blasts are no longer efficient or effective. In fact, it’s now just noise that annoys consumers.

“Retailers that really put the time and research into developing mobile databases and the ability to deliver relevant offers will see better results over retailers who simply put geo-fences around stores and wait for consumers to come by,” according to mobimanage’s blog.