Companies want to be able to know where you are at all times so they can hit you up with an ad/sale/coupon/offer/message when you are at or near certain locations. Mobile devices make this pretty easy to do -- Foursquare makes it even easier.
Savvy mobile device owners may be blocking these kinds of features, but for most, it's part of the fun of using them. Foursquare, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter are just a few of the companies that are vying for the top position in the location tracking space, and all have made recent moves to do just that.
Foursquare Allowing Businesses More Access to Location Data
When Foursquare launched, it was fun to try and knock off your nemesis from being the mayor of a local dive bar or hangout joint, but the company has made some huge recent changes. Its new terms of service lay out the new rules. Starting just a week or so ago, businesses who claim their location on Foursquare can now see everyone who checked into their location over more than a three hour span. Three hours used to be the limit.
In other words, a coffee shop could only see who had checked in over the last three hours, but the new TOS means they can see a wider swath of their customer base. People's full first and last name are now exposed to those businesses as well. This is also a change from the old system, though people can opt out of sharing this information.
For marketers, this should be a huge help because it will be easier to see who is at a store during specific hours of the day. Special offers can be updated to encourage people to come in during off hours, and for VIPs, those who come in the most, deals can be offered to come in even more frequently.
Additionally, now that full names are exposed, comments can be used more systematically.
For the best and worst comments on a company's Foursquare, the names of the commenters can be looked up for details about their customer history. That way, a comment that may not give too many details can be fully vetted and a future problem perhaps averted.
Foursquare is more valuable to marketers than ever thanks to recent terms of service updates.
Location Targeting Raising CTRs + FTC Guidelines
Foursquare changes its terms of service, the same week the FTC releases new guidelines on mobile device privacy. Coincidence? Whether or not Foursquare had anything to do with the FTC's new privacy guidelines or not, nothing has changed legally for location based services.
In its Mobile Privacy Disclosures report, the FTC lays out the case for mobile apps to be up front about what data is collected about users and when. They are recommendations only, but they are aimed at helping guide best practices in a very new business area.
The boom in location based services extends into the mobile display ad world as well. A marketing company called Verve Mobile analyzed its 2012 customer data and found location targeted ads were twice as effective as their non location enhanced counterparts.
Even Microsoft is using location targeting in its Bing Ads network. Advertisers there can choose to target people who are searching about a specific location or area, or target the people who are actually in that location.
Find My Facebook Friends
Facebook is also reportedly getting into the location aware game. It's working on a sort of Find My Friends app lookalike, a recent Bloomberg report found. Some of the features from the famous Apple app that shows where other Find My Friends users are could soon be available in a Facebook version.
There weren't many details in the report, but whatever Facebook comes up with will no doubt be irresistible to marketers -- especially when combined with the powerful Social Graph technology soon to be unleashed.
Twitter may not be the first company that comes to mind in the location targeting area, but those who don't change their user settings will expose their location with every tweet. This is easy to track, and the same principles can be applied for reaching out to the users who may be in a specified location.
Wherever people carry mobile devices, the potential will be there specifically target them based on their physical location. This will only become more common as the number of mobile devices increases, to the point where there are more of them than there are people, something that could happen by the end of 2013.