Location-based services (LBS) using beacons, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile technologies have been touted as a way for marketers to make money for the retail industry. 

But recent trends are showing that other industries are getting in on the action, for other purposes.

The success of a location-based service startup in New Zealand called AREA360 typifies the trend. It recently reaped a $5.5 million NZD ($3.5 million USD) Series A round funding in large part because of services it provides that are unrelated to retail. 

The company's products are geared toward large, permanent and frequently visited places like airports, hospitals and museums, including clients the Smithsonian Museum and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Its momentum is also drawing it to US dollars and a new headquarters in the strong Seattle tech scene.

Digital Guides

The flagship product of AREA360, the STQRY app, loads up digital content connected to a physical location. 

Its newest solutions for large venues can make that connection when a person is as far away as nearly 10 feet (3 meters). 

Imagine the ability to provide an artist's history as museum visitors pass through that artist's exhibition. Or to guide passengers from one gate at the airport to their connecting flight in another terminal.

Chris Smith"Using beacon and other location data, our platform enables customers to create a broad portfolio of useful services," said Chris Smith, CEO and founder of AREA360, in a press release.

Rapid Market Growth

The idea of broad, not-just-retail purposes for location-based services plays into revelations from new research on the topic from Sweden-based market research firm Berg Insight

Berg categories location-based services into categories like social networking and entertainment, which consists of mobile gaming, messaging and friend-finding tools and makes up the largest segment of location-based services (second in terms of revenue growth). 

Berg appears to place retail marketing and in-store customer tracking in its category for local search and information services, along with other purposes like directories and local search. 

This grouping is second largest in terms of users and the largest in terms of revenue. And the third category in terms of size and revenues is mapping, navigation and transport.

Berg Insight forecasts global LBS revenues to increase from 10.3 billion euros ($11.4 billion) last year to 34.8 billion euros ($38.6 billion) in 2020. 

The researchers predict the main driver of that growth will be ad revenue for social networking and local search — which makes sense because today, according to their research, 60 percent of LPS revenues flow to social sites like Facebook and Twitter and search tools like Google, Baidu and Yahoo. 

Enterprise uses of location-based services will also accelerate, for roles such as mobile analytics, secure authentication and fraud management, according to Berg.

The good news for retail marketers is that those numbers align with (and expand upon) other predictions. For instance, a 2014 report from Opus Research, reported here at CMSWire, predicted  the location-based marketing market to be worth itself more than $10 billion annually by 2018.

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