Mobile Geo-Location: Is it Creepy or Convenient?

by Richard Simons, CEO of Creative Virtual USA

One of the great advantages the mobile channel has over web is its ability to deliver location-based services to consumers with the use of GPS smartphone features. But while marketers may see geo-location as a convenient and contextual way to understand and leverage customer habits and behavior, some customers see it as an invasion of privacy begging the question, is geo-location convenient and helpful, or creepy and invasive?

geolocation mobile phoneBusinesses are already beginning to take advantage of features like personalized offers based on the customer’s location. After all, geo-marketing is essentially the genius behind Foursquare. But consider Google’s Google Now technology, a mobile virtual assistant that one-ups Apple’s Siri by offering automatic recommendations to the user based on their location, without the need for the user to even ask. See Tim Simonite’s full review in his post, Google’s Answer to Siri Thinks Ahead, but essentially, Google Now actively curates information from your mobile activity — searches, emails and the like — and feeds you information that it *thinks* you’ll be interested in. Remember Tom Cruise in Minority Report? Based on an eye scan, retailers could present ads and options that were based on your past purchasing behavior.  But that same access had a downside for Cruise’s character when he needed a certain level of anonymity.

Admittedly, geo-location is proving to be a game changer, but when employing it as a strategy, ask yourself — in the effort to get to know as much as possible about your customer, are you adding value or are you crossing a line in trying to achieve promotional offer heaven that only benefits your bottom line?