AT&T has signed a partnership with geo-fencing company Placecast to begin offering “ShopAlerts by AT&T” to the telecom’s 75 million wireless subscribers. It marks the first deal with a wireless carrier in the U.S. for San Francisco-based Placecast, which struck a similar agreement with the U.K.’s O2 last year.
Placecast facilitates location-based offers and educates clients like AT&T on best practices for the emerging marketing niche. But AT&T is responsible for attracting both end users and brand partners. In terms of the latter, it’s launching with K-Mart, JetBlue, Del Monte Foods, SC Johnson, Kohl’s, HP, and the California Milk Processing Board (CMPD) on board. To attract users, AT&T will market the service with dedicated SMS messages, e-mails, posts on the telecom’s Facebook page, and ads on its website. The alerts are initially available in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Alistair Goodman, CEO of Placecast, said another client, retailer The North Face, has successfully attracted users since launching its “Summit Signals” program last October. Brands on AT&T’s program, he said, may see even bigger numbers opt-in to the location-based alerts.
“What makes [the platform] so effective is that it works on any phone…and it’s not an app,” he said. “So it cuts through the clutter of what’s out there. In this case, AT&T could eventually roll this out to all [75 million] of their subscribers.”
How Brands Use Geo-Fencing
Indeed, no matter if end users have a smart phone or regular cellular device, geo-fencing allows stores to offer them an opt-in “auto check-in” service. Once users opt into a Placecast-enabled program, the brand automatically delivers SMS offers to them after they enter a 1.5-mile radius.
An example of a real-life K-Mart offer (see image): “Attention K-Mart shoppers, $5 merchandise purchase of $50 or more at any K-Mart. Your nearest store is 1360 Ashland Avenue N, Chicago – offer valid only today.”
And here is how some of AT&T’s other launch partners will employ the platform:
– JetBlue is geo-fencing various U.S. airports, reminding “TrueBlue” loyalty program members to check in to the airline’s “Go Places” app to get rewards points.
– HP is geo-fencing Office Max, Staples, Office Depot, and Best Buy locations, testing offers for ink cartridges and printers as well as limited-time promotions for calendars and other gift items.
– For CMPD’s “got milk?” campaign, the org is geo-fencing major sports stadiums, encouraging sports fans to drink chocolate milk as part of its “ReFuel” initiative.
Meanwhile, geo-fencing has recently been picking up speed as a marketing strategy. For instance, Starbucks and L’Oreal are mid-stream a six-month test on Placecast in the U.K.
And two weeks ago, location-based ad firm Navteq doubled the reach of its LocationPoint network through partnerships with major handset manufacturers RIM and Samsung. International brand clients have included McDonald’s (Finland) and Dominos (India), while Best Western Hotels has been testing Navteq’s platform in the U.S. Additionally, Chicago-based Navteq uses Placecast’s location-based technology.