A few years back we were walking through London’s Heathrow and just happened to run into a good friend we never expected to see. Millions pass through that airport every year and we’re certain that we’ve narrowly missed an acquaintance many times before. Coincidence was king before our modern times.
The world is increasingly becoming very intentional and much less accidental. Marketing is the obvious winner of this trend. It used to be enough to broadcast a message far and wide and hope to coincidentally find the person wanting a product with the message that would move them. Strategies and channels could ‘up’ the coincidences, but the intersection of people, places, and deals was never very automated.
But it isn’t without its creepiness. How much do we want our movements known? Who should be able to track where we are? Companies will need to change processes and pitches to keep from alienating customers while we transition.
The public’s discomfort is a very temporary thing. What we wouldn’t dream of sharing publicly is now commonplace. Location anonymity, too, will soon slip into the past as we choose convenience over privacy.
Groupon gets it
Just yesterday, we read that Groupon acquired Glassmap, a real-time, location-aware service that was a big deal last year but has since grown quieter. From our own personal experience living in a large city, Groupon is challenged by deals that are far too location unspecific. Imagine the easier sell Groupon has to merchants when they can match followers to deals by location. Will it save Groupon? Not clear, but it won’t hurt.
Geographic context, also called location-based service, isn’t just for marketers. It has remarkable applications to work, customer service, logistics, entertainment, alerting, and navigation. The fact that we’ve had to tell our devices where we are before knowing where to go will pass into history as a quaintness.