Geo location basics


Geo location is defined as "The identification or estimation of the real-world geographic location of an object, such as a radar source, mobile phone, or internet-connected computer terminal".  In the context of consumer engagement Geo location is a powerful tool to help with identification and engagement with consumers in the physical world.  It does, however, have specific applications where it is more useful than others.  Geo location via GPS has become more and more precise over the years and the advancement of technology, however it should always be considered a part of a larger use of technology when engaging with consumers.  This article will explain the basics of the technology, when it is best used and when it may not be the most appropriate.  

Now the first thing to recognize is that in our context, Geo location is not 'one thing' - identifying a consumers physical location can be achieved through a series of different methods to include GPS, WiFi, and other emerging technologies can all be considered forms of Geo location.  For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the most widely adopted technology which is GPS.  



 In today's environment of hyper connected consumers that are almost continuously 'connected', the deployment of mobile applications that utilize GPS has increased dramatically.  Many mobile apps include location services in the form of GPS to be able to provide the consumer with location based relevant information that includes local weather conditions, interesting local events, breaking news, and other information relevant to their current location.  This is no different that in the world of consumer engagement for the purposes of marketing and personalization.  As long as the consumer has location services enabled on their mobile device any application can utilize their GPS location to present them with relevant information.  

In the context of the Plexure platform, we utilize GPS in the form of Geofencing, which is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic location.  This is a powerful tool to tell the platform when a consumer has entered, is dwelling, or has left a specific geographic area.  To accomplish this, we take the physical address of a specific location, say a retail store, and translate that to the longitudinal and latitudinal representation of that location and create a configurable boundary around that location to create a "fence", and then by collecting the consumers' GPS location off of their mobile device in real-time, we are able to recognize when they have entered that geographic area, when they dwell there for a particular amount of time and/or when they depart that area.  


An example of this within our platform is depicted in the image below.  Here I have utilized the address of the Dayton international airport as my location.  I then have the ability to create a radius around that specific lat/long location are various sizes between 500M and 3000M.  


Now anytime a consumers' mobile device enters, dwells, or exits that radius, I can associate them with a specific tag (or segment) of consumers in that geographic area, and push them content that is relevant to that location.  In the case of a airport such as above, that information might be the current flight status, weather conditions, or security line delays.  

So imagine if we utilized this functionality for your retail location, we could draw this 'fence' around one of your locations, and as a consumer enters the geographic area of your store, push them content enticing them to come to the store, since they are so close anyway ("Hi there Joel! - We haven't seen you in a while, stop by for a free coffee and a great deal on that jacket you were looking at on-line yesterday!".

Now Geo location is a great mechanism to reach your consumers, however there are limits to retrieving an accurate location of the consumers.  A few things to consider when deciding if this method is appropriate for your specific location include: 


  • Location services 
    • To reiterate, for GPS/Geo location to work, the consumer must have location services enabled on their mobile device and in most cases need to have 'opted in' on your specific application.  
  • Mobile APP 
    • Your mobile APP must have the necessary linkage/code to be able to access and utilize the operating systems' tracking of the GPS on the mobile device.  In the case of the Plexure platform, the deployment of our SDK into your mobile APP provides that functionality.
  • Connectivity
    • Obviously the consumers' mobile device must have connectivity to the internet for the OS to recognize the physical location and for the necessary translation of that physical location and determination of the appropriate content to send to the consumer
  • Accuracy 
    • While the technology has continued to get more and more precise, in our real world applications of Geofencing, we have found the high level of accuracy when keeping the radius to 500M on the low end.  Geo location is not a replacement for more accurate technology such as beacons, WiFi, intelligent lighting or other location based technology. An additional consideration around the adoption of Geolocation is the speed at which a consumer may be traveling in relation to your location. If for example, your retail location is immediately adjacent to an interstate, and it's likely the consumer is traveling on that interstate, you would want as large of a radius as possible to ensure they receive the content before they have past your location. 

These are just a few considerations to think about when determining if the adoption of Geo location is best suited for your needs.  Contact your Plexure representative or our support team to see how it could best serve you. 

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