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Location-based mobile services have been one of the major digital trends this year, as they provide a great opportunity for retailers and brands to create contextual experiences to engage their customers.

One of the most obvious uses of location services is providing targeted offers and promotions to smartphone owners in-store

But we’ve also seen brands with little or no retail presence using mobile to add an additional layer of interaction to traditional outdoor advertising.

There are a number of great examples of brands using location-based mobile services this year, but here is a run down of eight of my favourite campaigns.

If you think I’ve missed any good ones, please point them out in the comments section...

Douche Parking

The Village, a Moscow-based online newspaper, created a free app called Parking Douche that aims to make bad parking socially unacceptable using digital media.

It allows users to take pictures of badly parked cars and recognises the make, number plate and colour of the vehicle.

This data is then streamed to banner ads that are targeted using an IP address so people who live or work near the vehicle see it on their computer screens.

The idea is that the pop-up is intrusive and annoying, much like the nuisance parkers, and in order to remove it from their screen users have to share it on Facebook.

It’s a really clever way of drawing attention to a problem that apparently affects all Russian cities, and gained decent exposure for The Village. 

Hiscox

Earlier this year specialist insurer Hiscox used Wi-Fi hotspots to run an ad campaign targeted at small businesses.

People who logged onto BT Openzone Wi-Fi within the vicinity of a Hiscox outdoor ad were shown a matching digital ad with clear calls-to-action, to encourage them to request an insurance quote.

Hiscox ads were also shown on Wi-Fi login pages before users had begun browsing the web.

The ads obviously aren’t relevant to a majority of users, so they were targeted at small businesses using Wi-Fi user profiles and venue type, such as airports, stations, hotels and business hubs.

As a result of the campaign Hiscox achieved a clickthrough rate five times higher than its average for traditional online display ads.

McDonald’s

The fast food chain has won numerous awards for this mobile campaign it ran to promote new late night opening hours. 

A third of McDonald’s outlets had their hours extended at the beginning of the year so needed to raise awareness and drive footfall.

A majority of its late night customers are apparently shift workers and travellers rather than revellers, so it targeted them with ads at cash points and petrol stations encouraging them to download a new Restaurant Finder app.

McDonald’s also bought mobile banner ads to promote the app on websites it knew customers frequented at night. 

The app directed users to their closest outlet and also used geo-fencing to push out messages to customers who were in proximity to one of the new late night franchises.

During the campaign the app received 530,000 visits and McDonalds achieved £2 of sales for every £1 invested.

Meat Pack 

Guatemalan shoe store Meat Pack used mobile to pinch customers from other brands such as Nike and Adidas.

It created an add-on to its existing loyalty app called ‘Hijack’ that rewarded Meat Pack customers by giving them an innovative way to earn a discount.

Every time one of the ‘Sneakerheads’ entered competitor store the GPS function showed them a countdown timer and an offer for money off shoes.

The discount started at 99% off and reduced by 1% for every second that passed. The timer stopped when the user reached a Meat Pack store.

More than 600 shoppers were hijacked from the competitors within a week, with one of them getting 89% of his new trainers.

Toyota

This Toyota app looks like it was created to entertain kids and let their parents concentrate on the driving, but the YouTube video actually makes it seem like a slightly creepy way of peddling cars to children.

Either way, it’s a great example of using location technology to improve consumer engagement.

The Backseat Driver app lets kids drive a virtual car alongside the actual car. The GPS recognises the route and landmarks using Foursquare’s API so the user can collect points as they drive around, which can then be used to customise the car.

As of April this year the app had been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

Target

In May US retailer Target launched a new campaign with mobile couponing app Shopkick that enabled shoppers to collect and exchange points for rewards.

Customers could earn 60 points just for walking into a store, with even more on offer for certain promotional days throughout the year. Points were also on offer in return for scanning certain products.

The points could be redeemed for Target gift cards, Facebook credits, iTunes downloads and various other rewards.

It’s a great way of rewarding loyal customers and driving footfall into stores.

La Redoute

In June retailer La Redoute opened virtual stores in 10 towns and cites around France that could only be accessed using its Street Shopping augmented reality app.

It also ran a virtual treasure hunt in 56 towns where participants could win prizes from La Redoute and brands such as Dorothy Perkins and Nike.

All they had to do was follow the GPS directions then use the AR to claim their prize.

The aim of the campaign was to promote the new Autumn/Winter collection for 2012 and a selection of other designer ranges.

The combination of AR and GPS has been used by several other brands this year, including L’Oreal, so it’s not necessarily ground-breaking, and a large part of it is aimed at generating exposure and PR for the brand rather than something useful for customers.

However it’s still a good example of a brand utilising mobile and location-based services as a central part of their marketing strategy.

House of Fraser

Technically this campaign went live at the end of 2012, but it’s still worth including on this list.

In the run up to Christmas House of Fraser ran a campaign involving several O2 services, including Priority Moments and real time location to deliver personalised targeting for House of Fraser’s O2 customers.

The central element of the campaign saw House of Fraser provide free O2 Wi-Fi in 11 of its stores giving the retailer access to customer data while they shop.

All customers were given access to the Wi-Fi, but other aspects of the campaign specifically targeted O2's 22m UK customers.

O2 Media’s real time location services were used to direct consumers into House of Fraser stores by offering a range of promotional activities, including rich media messages, such as pictures and videos of in-store fashion shows and products.  

Further messages were sent to consumers directing them to House of Fraser’s mobile app, which also provides information on deals, offers and planned in-store activities.

The aim was to drive footfall, brand awareness and loyalty, but more importantly to increase incremental sales and drive purchase decisions around specific offers and promotions.

David Moth

Published 11 December, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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