Mobile World Congress: Geofencing may forever change mobile shopping

In Business and Leadership by Daniel Newman9 Comments

BARCELONA, SPAIN — Pulling up to my hotel at Mobile World Congress 2015 (MWC 2015), I found myself just around the corner from the home of the world renowned “futbol” club FC Barcelona, Camp Nou. With every game, tens of thousands of fans pack the seats to witness their team play. This, however, isn’t limited to just FC Barcelona but to stadiums and events around the world.

It is difficult to imagine a more perfect place to market your product than at a sporting event. After all, people in the stadium are a captive audience with nowhere to go until the final buzzer. However, when it comes to sales, it still feels like hand-to-hand combat. Think of those large hungry crowds huddled around hot dog carts, those serpentine queues, and time lost while waiting. You no doubt are aware of how time-consuming and downright frustrating the entire experience in concessions can be for a consumer.

What if mobility could change all of that? Imagine mobility offering marketing at events, malls, or to retailers that could be fully customized with messaging to the entire audience of guests, attendees, or spectators at any given location? What if proximity was married to big data to create the most real-time, most customized messages possible? It would create a whole new dimension in the shopping experience for consumers. The good news is: mobile is already making this type of communication possible by enabling one-to-one marketing in a new and exciting way, one where geofencing and data cross paths. In fact, this was exactly what Mobile World Congress’ app atMWC 2015 did. It tied events, users and proximity together to make a better show experience. Another great example of the power of geofencing when combined with real-time data and analytics.

Patrick Moorhead, who is the president and principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, shares his insights on geofencing in the video below, including how it can improve events, workplaces and shopping.


Geofencing meets data: What it means for businesses

Geofencing, a virtual way of geographically tracking customers within a well-defined area around a particular location, has been the subject of conversation over the past year as more and more companies begin exploring new possibilities in mobile commerce. We saw Dunkin’ Donuts leverage the power of geofencing last year when they sent coupons to mobile users nearby one of their competitors or their own stores, resulting in the chain attracting new customers. What is even more interesting is how geofencing can give companies an estimate of the consumption opportunity at a given event, allowing suppliers to manage economics in real time.

For instance, 4 million tons of perfectly good-to-eat food is wasted every year in the UK, which is worth roughly over $27 billion. What if we could predict that 200 hot dogs that were prepared to be sold at a ball park were going to be thrown away at the end of the game? You can imagine the amount of money that businesses could save simply by having a better understanding of how much of their product is going to be consumed. Big data insights, coupled with geofencing techniques, could offer real-time information and match consumers with products or services. It could help companies reduce costs by eliminating some of the risk of over-preparing and thus wasting product. Business have everything to gain by limiting production to customer demands and requirements. And when it comes to inventory management, businesses could find these insights useful as well.

How geofencing can transform user experience

Geofencing, along with big data, can also be leveraged to create real-time offers and recommendations to be sent to customers’ smartphones. There is a strong possibility that these offers could even suggest the exact product the consumer needs at just the right time. Imagine the advantage to businesses and customers if this technology is used to rearrange in-store layouts. It could easily be done by tracking which aisles are attracting the most customers and which items are in demand. Not only could this increase sales, but it will also lead to a better, more efficient in-store experience for the customer.

With geofencing, lines may soon be forgotten and wrestling through the crowds to grab that sought after item could become a distant memory for shoppers.

What are your thoughts on geofencing and marketing? Do you feel companies should be given access to this kind of data in order to improve the shopping experience for their customers? 

This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. To learn more about tech news and analysis visit TechPageOne. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

Photo: Creative Commons 

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


  1. Pingback: MWC: Geofencing May Forever Change Mobile Shopping

  2. The thing is, the Dunkin’ Donuts campaign didn’t do very well. A minuscule percentage of people who got the geofenced messages actually used the resulting coupon (3.6% used them of 18% who saved the coupon of 36% who tapped on the ad of ??? people who received the ads). And the results weren’t too great when targeting people who weren’t already loyal DD customers. While I agree geofencing is definitely an interesting tech to watch, I don’t see anything compelling about the DD campaign (and I actually *do* like DD coffee).

  3. AmyVernon The gang is all here. Hi Dannybrown 🙂 I would actually ask you AmyVernon whether of not 3.6% is actually bad? The other thing that this article intended to point out is that the personalization of mobile/geofencing can become much much stronger given the ability to aggregate and utilize social data. That can lead to greater levels of adoption or conversion. 
    Anyhow – geo-targeting is not new…however, geo-targeting and landing highly specific offers to only those that want them? That could be a powerful combination. 
    BTW – 3.6% of how many? 100? 1,000,000? I tried to find it but I couldn’t but in most direct marketing 3.6% is a really high conversion rate. 
    Thanks for dropping in.

  4. danielnewmanUV AmyVernon The redemption rate was actually lower than 3.6%. From the piece over at Mobile Commerce Daily that’s linked out to:
    The results were promising, with 36 percent of those who clicked on the offer taking some secondary action, 18 percent of these saving the coupon and 3.6 percent of secondary actions resulting in a redeemed coupon.
    So, in reality, only 1.3% of the coupons were redeemed.

  5. Danny Brown danielnewmanUV AmyVernon Hey guys, was just reading this thread. Here’s my take. Any digital response rate over 1% is actually amazing considering most banners are typically less than 2%  So IMO 3.6% is great. The URL I shared shows mobile native and display advertising at under 2%. Only FB mobile ads garner over 3%.

    Danny, you had alluded to 1.3% redemption. That’s a conversion metric that’s pretty typical of the average drop-off from response rate, which I’ve witnessed at between 50-70% from original response rate.

    I think because this is a different medium, nobody has really developed benchmarks for geofencing type ads. For a very targeted medium, I think it’s pretty good. This is entirely new and still NEW ground for testing. Just my opinion.

  6. hessiejones Danny Brown danielnewmanUV I’m more curious than anything. But I thought that the whole idea of digital and geofencing was that response rates are expected to be better than the “old” rates. I just feel like, if we’re not doing better than the old way, why is this any better than direct mail or other advertising methods?

  7. AmyVernon hessiejones Danny Brown danielnewmanUV The data is interesting for sure – I would like to know revenue created…Also, still interested in how geo-targeting can put to use to not just target everyone in an area but specific people who have shown an interest in related subjects…more targeted than just geo-blast

  8. hessiejones “Any digital response over 1% is actually amazing considering most banners are typically less than 2%.” So are we saying “traditional advertising” is more effective than digital? Because that completely throws a spanner in the works for consultants and agencies selling the benefits of digital over traditional when it comes to selling and ROI.
    As Amy mentions, though, why are we accepting this as a successful metric? That’s an appalling return rate (given it’s supposedly highly targeted to consumers warm to the offer).Especially if you look at the potential financials behind it.
    DD was giving a buck off every cup of medium and large coffee. Let’s use the large coffee as an example. That costs $2. So now it’s down to $1 to buy. Let’s say it costs 20 cents to make the coffee because of beans, etc. Now the revenue for DD is down to 80 cents. Arguably, they mark up their product by 30% (a guess). So now the revenue for that cup is down to 50 cents.  Now, consider staffing costs, mobile ad costs, and other overheads – how much of that 50 cents per cup is going to be left?
    It’s all well and good sharing great case studies, but if the case study is flawed or lacking data to begin with, it kinda negates the potency of the example. danielnewmanUV AmyVernon

  9. Danny Brown hessiejones danielnewmanUV AmyVernon Let’s put this into perspective Danny. Until you establish benchmarks you can’t effectively compare mediums. I’m saying that 3.6% response rate is amazing for digital because this is truly not reflective of the norm.

    Here’s the thing: NO one knows what an acceptable metric is for geo-fencing because the campaigns are only NOW starting and no benchmarks have been established. I’m working with a campaign technology that’s collecting campaign performance rates across mobile and digital (by industry, offer) etc. from top agencies like Ogilvy, Aegis media to determine those benchmarks. 

    We cannot possibly isolate DD as one campaign that drove questionable success because, as Dan stated, we don’t know the cost, nor the targeting variables and what they deemed as an acceptable CPA. Only DD can tell us that. And as you know, any kind of response rate that’s stated publicly is ONLY stated as percentages. That does NOT provided enough information to tell us whether it hit the targeted CPA goals. If DD is putting this case study out there, obviously based on their objectives and their information, this result was a successful outcome.

    I’m also working with a geofencing technology that’s defining variables like dayparting, demographics, semantics, past mobile behaviour to test combinations for optimal response. This is still so new. The transactional data hasn’t yet been integrated to determine the true targeting potential. 

    I urge you guys not to judge things in such an isolated fashion. It’s taken years to optimize for banner CTRs and as it evolved to rich media. The same thing is happening for mobile. Any information we’re given at this stage will only help inform how we can make it better.

Leave a Comment