When I first heard we were doing a job that involved geo fencing a part of central London, conjured up images of my past when I used to volunteer at a lion park in South Africa came to mind. But I couldn’t quite understand the link between what we did in the world of digital media and the fencing off of wild animals so I approached my Creative Director for some clarity on the task at hand.
I began to explain that I might have some insight into the next job that we were doing, the one with all the geo fencing, and how I used to help repair the huge electric fences in South Africa that surrounded the big enclosures of the lions separating the younger ones from the older ones so that they wouldn’t fight over territories.
My CD started to look at me with a very curious look indeed. “What the hell are you talking about?” he exclaimed with a huge grin on his face.
It was at this point that I should of realised that I was in unknown territories but I still went on about how I actually had experience in the matter and that I have the scars to prove it (I snipped a wire that had a lot of tension on it, causing the wire to whip back and lash my arm).
Well let’s just say that the joke was on me because I clearly did not have a single clue about what geo fencing was or how to go about putting one up. After my CD had finished taking the mick out of me, which was about lunch time if I remember correctly, he finally went on to explain the “ins” and “outs” of the matter in question.
So let me share my insight with you so that you don’t run into any embarrassing situation like I did. Geo fencing is something that is very much alive, all around us and is a part of location based services that is embedded inside certain mobile APPS and phones. What it effectively does is fence off a virtual part of the real world so people such as marketers and game developers can deliver focused information to target audiences once they venture inside its perimeter or leave it.
These location based services have been in use for a while now, in telematics, but it’s only over the last few years were it has been seen in a games environment or for marketing purposes. I was reading an article recently about how there are some shopping malls in the USA that set up a geo fence around the outskirts of their mall so that when a potential shopper enters their zone, they receive the latest deals from companies or shops that they have opted in to receive this service from. It’s taking off in a big style for retail outlets in the good old US of A because 92% of US mobiles are compatible with geo fencing without having to download any software. It would be interesting to see some sort or ROI but at this stage it seems hard to measure it.
Here in the UK “checking in” to places has become quiet popular, but this still requires the mobile user to activate the service and physically “check in” (there is an automated setting too but it is based on the same principal as previously mentioned) whereby geo fencing will automatically register when a user has entered of left a specific zone. There seem to be many possibilities of success for location based services and their popularity with marketers and games developers is certainly on the rise.
Whether you see it as a necessary aid in the urban jungle or just another annoying form of evolved junk mail is up to you, all I say is…watch this space!
All the best in your latest pursuit!