A location-based mobile marketing startup just released a new version of its platform — and it promises the redesign will bring new functionality and simplicity to the lives of marketers and app publishers.

Toronto, Ontario-based Rover claims the update eliminates the complexities of location-driven marketing. Co-founder and CEO John Coombs told CMSWire the total redesign incorporates "every tool that brands and retailers need to create and run location-driven marketing campaigns for their mobile apps."

John Coombs
He described it as an uncomplicated, end-to-end solution that marketers can use to turn beacon hardware and geofences into engaging mobile experiences. The "marketer friendly platform" enables users to do everything from manage location infrastructure to design rich native content and run location-triggered campaigns, he explained.

"We've brought all the tools marketers need to create location-based customer experiences together in one place," he said. The new platform makes executing location-based campaigns intuitive and scalable, "so every marketer can jump right in and start capitalizing on location."

Capitalizing on Location Technologies

Indoor location technologies bring internet-style tracking to physical spaces. And their development is changing the way retailers, venue owners, manufacturers and brands think about operations, place-based marketing and the customer experience.

Two-year-old Rover is one of the companies leveraging the micro location abilities of Bluetooth beacons and geofences to understand when people enter given locations, as well as to monitor which products or activities attract their attention.

Beacon technology defines the location of a smart device using BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy or Bluetooth Smart) signals. If a consumer with an enabled smart device is in the proximity of a beacon transmitter and has Bluetooth switched on, then companies and brands have the abilities to push pertinent content and information to that device.

A geofence is a virtual barrier. Programs that incorporate geo-fencing allow an administrator to set up triggers so when a device enters or exits predefined boundaries, something like a text message or email alert can be sent.

Rover combines beacons and geofences so companies can reach consumers on their mobile devices with targeted content that’s relevant to their physical location. The company, which currently serves hundreds of locations verticals including professional sports, retail, loyalty and tourism.

Coombs and co-founder and CTO Sean Rucker describe Rover as the "missing link between beacon hardware and mobile engagement."

Clients including the Pittsburgh Penguins and Proctor & Gamble use the company's platform to create and deliver location-relevant information to their app users to enhance on-site customer experiences and influence customer behaviors.

Repackaging Location-Based Technology

Coombs said the new platform was redesigned from the ground up to respond to provide functionality in a simplified package. A new dashboard provides an easy-to-use interface on top of the technology, he explained, and incorporates the same feel as many tools that marketers already use, such as CMS systems and Photoshop.

rover dashboard

There are five main apps in the Rover dashboard, each catering to a certain type of user and his or her role in the organization:

  1. Proximity: This is where IT can configure the beacon and geofence infrastructure. Rover supports integrations with multiple beacon brands, and users can import the devices and their settings directly to the platform. One of the new features is smart tagging, which lets users assign labels to the beacons and geofences so they can find and manage them quickly. 
  2. Customers: The place for marketers to manage and segment audience and track location data. A new feature lets users set targets, like finding customers who haven’t visited the store in 30 days. This app is API-driven, so marketers can plug in their CMS and CRM solutions.
  3. Messages: Marketers can build mobile campaigns in this app without any coding. The new platform features location-based or standard messages and rules for when and where customers receive notifications.
  4. Experiences: App for designers to create rich location-triggered mobile experiences – such as video, brand experiences, or interactive quizzes.
  5. Analytics: Designed for data and business intelligence analysts to review visit data and campaign performance, including open and click-through rates and how messages and content performed.

"Our goal is to empower marketing teams with the ability to execute on the vision of location-based marketing," Coombs said.

Fetching Cash, Industry Interest

Rover has raised $2.1 million in five rounds, including a $1.1 million seed round last month led by BDC Venture Capital and 500 Startups. Coombs said Rover is investing the capital in its platform and growing its sales and marketing teams at its offices in Toronto and San Francisco.

Rover also attracted attention from four tech industry veterans, who have agreed to sit on its newly formed advisory board. The four — Ryan Craver, CEO of Trimfit and SVP of Lamour Group; Hansmeet Sethi, COO of Neighborly; Stephen Statler, principal consultant at Statler Advisors; and Stuart Wheldon, a partner with investment firm Wheldon Brothers Ltd. and former vice president at Eloqua — will guide Rover’s strategic growth initiatives.

In a statement announcing the advisory board, Wheldon called location-powered engagement "the single biggest trend taking shape in mobile right now," and noted "Rover is at the forefront of this market."

Location Is Red Hot

Rover isn't the only location-based company on a roll.

Just last week, New York City-based Verve, a provider of location-based advertising technology, acquired ROXIMITY, a Denver based start-up specializing in beacon software and hardware.

The acquisition pairs Verve’s location and mobile device data with ROXIMITY’s beacon hardware and analytics tools to help marketers observe and influence consumer behavior "from broad locations down to a specific aisle," Nada Stirratt, Verve CEO, noted in a statement.

Last month, two other start-ups closed funding rounds. Austin-based eyeQ, a provider of shopper-aware and responsive in-store displays, raised $3.5 million in a series A round led by Align Capital. Unacast, an Oslo, Norway-based operator of a proximity network which enables brands and retailers to retarget customers online based on offline behavior, raised $5 million in Series A funding. The round was co-led by Open Ocean Capital and Investinor.

And in April, London-based Blis, a provider of location-targeted mobile ad technology, secured $25 million in a round led by Endeit Capital, Beringea US and Unilever Ventures.

The Toronto-based Location Based Marketing Association recently surveyed more than 50 global brands in five countries — Singapore, Germany, Canada, the United States and the UK — to gauge current interest in location based technology and services. Among the findings:

  • Three out of four marketers believe location based marketing is an important business issue for 2016
  • Although 77 percent of marketers agree location based data is valuable, only 65 percent think it's accurate
  • Spending on location-based marketing will grow a modest 3.3 percent this year
  • For location-based technologies to really take off, the key will be standardizing and verifying the data so it's usable
  • While current use is focused on offers to drive sales, 66 percent of global marketers plan to expand the use of the technology to areas such a operations, customer services or public safety
  • All location technologies — beacon, Near Field Communication (NFC), GPS, and Wi-Fi — are set to grow by double digits, with 63 percent of marketers planning to invest in Wi-Fi, 57 percent of marketers planning to invest in GPS, 46 percent NFC and 41 percent in beacons
Title image by Rohit Tandon