Geo-Loco 2010: Location-Based Services as a Branding Tool

Following up on the previous post about my LBS panel at Geo-Loco yesterday, the wide reaching discussion also covered how large brands are adopting and thinking about location-based services.

The short answer is that they’re interested and allocating budget, but aren’t yet thinking in the terms required to get the most out of the medium. In other words they’re thinking in terms of impressions, and just and slapping a CPM on it.

The opportunity conversely requires more of a CPA structure in the way the medium is bought and sold. This does justice to the capabilities of the technology, the mobility of the use case and the higher levels of purchase intent. The latter is a function of proximity to the point of conversion.

This has always been the case with mobile, but there’s a lot more excitement behind it now with check-in services combining social engagement and consumer opt-in. Check-ins, nearby specials and branded badges all make way for new forms of engagement that are more conducive to conversions than impressions.

Though I stand by that, JiWire’s David Staas brought up the excellent point that you can’t skip through stages of the purchase funnel. Though the evolving set of mobile local search products breed actionable and highly trackable marketing, awareness is still important.

In other words, the mobility of the node is effectively shrinking the depth of the purchase funnel, but it doesn’t mean that it’s still not a funnel.

“You can send all the  promos and coupons for free Starbucks Frappuccinos that you want,” Staas posed. “But if people don’t know what a Frappuccino is, it’s meaningless.”

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