Geo-fencing is just one element of “proximity advertising”. When you move into an area (a geo-fenced area), your mobile device (app) is aware of its longitude/latitude coordinates and also aware of the many geo-fences businesses have setup specifically to alert you to something nearby; a product or service. On the most granular level, products on the shelf in the grocery store near you are obvious candidates for proximity advertising. Instead of a bright piece of paper attached to a spot on the shelf with “30% off”, your mobile device alerts you to the same “30% off”. Now if you knew how many ways advertisers analyse your “movements” at this moment, you might not use these apps, but privacy issues never seemed to put true consumers off.
Lets contrast Proximity Advertising to Pay-Per-Click (PPC/Adwords). Geo-fencing technologies are designed to be “active” rather than “passive”. Pay-per-click (PPC) (Adwords) is passive because the ads are not interrupting your normal activity. TV and radio advertising is interruptive or “active”. Proximity Ads and Geo-Fencing is therefore more desirable to many advertisers – a bigger bang for the buck – they hope.
What Does Google Think?
So what will Google see in proximity advertising and geo-fencing? Active ads are a natural augmentation of passive PPC ads. Local Search PPC ad revenue will become only half of the total revenue potential from the same customer base. Increased revenue from an existing customer base! What is not to like about that?
Mobile Search is Driving Everything
Mobile search surpassed desktop a few years ago. The number of mobile devices in the world is growing and growing – not so much for desktop computers. Google therefore has redesigned its search display for mobile screens – desktop is now an afterthought. If Google thinks mobile is the future, how would they not also arrive at the conclusion that proximity advertising is the future (or at least a HUGE part of future advertisers spending).
The Last Foot
Geo-fencing by its nature will become extraordinarily granular – as in feet – becoming the common denominator of an ad for an item on the shelf. While this “last foot” may be the current scale in development, the real-life roll-out is not there yet. While the talk has been going on for about 2 years, the actual ability to execute is not easy. Currently you’ll need to develop an app that the customer opts to use. Currently you can only go so far as to target a small radius or zipcode in Adwords.
And with that, I remind you that Google just switched their local Places Pak to proximity-only display instead of the prior ranking algorithm. When was the last time Google did away with a ranking algorithm? I believe Google is currently developing the next generation geo-fencing-proximity ad platform based on that observation alone.
My guess is that Google is already building the infrastructure. The beta stage of true proximity ads will first roll-out to big spend hyperlocal advertisers such as auto dealers, plumbers, pizza delivery. These businesses need only “approximate” distance to the customer – as in hundred-yard increments. So they will be the early adopters.
We Are Already There
Fortunately SearchStation is already capable of measuring search results at the most granular level. We won’t have to tool-up to meet that demand. So when you need the capability to measure your proximity ad placement, get SearchStation.