A program in the UK puts to rest an overused example of what location-based services will be like in the future.
So far, one million O2 subscribers have opted in to start receiving alerts and coupons for when they are in close proximity to an advertiser. One of the more clichéd brands used as an example within the industry is Starbucks. Users will also receive text messages from L’Oreal, depending on their demographics and preferences.
Already, more than one million O2 subscribers have signed up for the service online through a portal called O2 More, where the Telefonica-owned carrier explains that it is “about connecting you to other great companies, offers and information you really want.” The offers are based on the interests you selected during the sign-up process, and based on what the carrier has learned about the subscriber while it has been a customer. For instance, if they’ve purchased music before on their phone, they may receive concert information. “The better we know you, the better we can send you offers you’ll love,” it claims.
While some may see the carrier getting to know you as creepy or an invasion of privacy, others will inevitably see it as an opportunity to get great deals. There’s some precautions in place, including a limit of sending one text message a day. Additionally, O2 promises not to share the data, and customers can opt out at any time. Users are asked to indicate such interests as sports, food and drink or travel.
The program went live in December, but recently, O2 started working with Placecast, a five-year-old location-based ad service company in San Francisco to add location relevance to their messages. Together they are using “geo-fencing” to deliver relevant advertising when a consumer is close to a store. In the past, Placecast worked with brands in the U.S., such as The North Face, Sonic Drive-Ins and America Eagle Outfitters.
O2 is licensing the software from Placecast, and then has its own sales force to sell directly to the brands.