The “L” word for markers: Location.

Connor Bowlan

CEO at Cintric
Connor Bowlan is the CoFounder and CEO of Cintric, a consumer and location intelligence company. Cintric processes millions of location updates each day from over a quarter of a million people connected to the Cintric platform. Connor and his three co-founders started Cintric when they merged their consumer insight and location-based chat companies.

Connor’s previous company, Lookit, used crowdsourcing to generate product sentiment data on fashion and beauty items. Connor has also served as the CEO and CoFounder of a home-services startup, which sought to modernize existing small businesses with simple, web-based tools. Before entrepreneurship, he studied Sociology and Micro-Social Theory at University of California, Merced and the University of Botswana.

The L Word for markers
Consumers turn to their smartphone for, well, everything.  Day in and day out, it is the one thing we are constantly attached to.  For consumers, immediacy is paramount.  We want what we want, when we want it and where we want it.

Because of this, marketers are squaring off in a new battleground, the world of mobile enterprise.  The market for location-based insights has rapidly grown in recent years, to the point where companies are being forced to change and evolve, or be left behind.

Print and digital advertisements are strategies of yesterday.  While billboards and email blasts are the norm, do they really reach the right eyes? No. But mobile advertising does.

Mobile advertising is the future, specifically location-based advertising. Location-based advertising is any form of advertising that targets users in a specific location and provides them with geographically relevant ads.  With each smartphone comes GPS, and companies are now targeting consumers as they travel through their daily life.

Mobile is a huge conversion opportunity for retailers to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals. By having a mobile presence, companies increase the possibility that customers will find their store on a mobile device and get the information they need to shop.

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With their consumers having their smartphones on them at all points throughout the day, it allows companies a way to target their audience 24-hours of the day.

By knowing a customer’s location, it enables retailers to get the right message to the right person at the right time.  Companies can go even further, by creating personalized offers for consumers based on their location and previous buying patterns.  For example: if a person is within a certain radius of a Starbucks Coffee, Starbucks could send push notifications with a relevant offer to drive traffic into their store.

Mobile: By the numbers

Taking into account all retail web sales on desktops, tablets, smartphones, etc., e-commerce in 2014 tallied $638 billion, according to Goldman Sachs.  Of that, $204 billion was mobile commerce from smartphones and tablets alone.  Goldman Sachs projects that by 2018 mobile-commerce will climb to $626 billion, almost equaling all of e-commerce in 2014.


  • The United States has 180 million smartphone users
  • Over 60% of those users have made a purchase via their smartphone in the last 6 months
  • 80% of mobile users prefer locally relevant advertising and 75% are more likely to take an action after seeing a location-specific message (Source: Mobile Audience Insights Report)
  • 78% of mobile searches for local business information result in a purchase (Source: Kissmetrics)
  • 75% of mobile shoppers have used mobile coupons (Source: Kissmetrics)

So what does this mean?  Well, other than the fact that there is an abundance of smartphones, it explains why companies are transforming their marketing and selling strategies.  Knowing that four out of five mobile users are researching products in stores, and that three out of four use mobile coupons, companies can act. Using their consumers’ location and shopping habits, companies can send them push notifications and coupons while at or near their stores, allowing for higher conversion rates.

Working smarter

All successful companies work hard, but the key to engagement is working smarter.   Personalization is the new normal in the world of mobile advertising, and we’re seeing this become more prevalent.  It is critical for businesses to not only be able to compile data on their customers’ and potential customers’ location, but also to interpret the collected data.

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The difference-maker is to understand consumer behaviors, interests, lifestyle and purchasing patterns, by understanding them in the context of location.

Going back to the Starbucks example, what good is it for them to send someone a push notification for coffee, when in reality that user might visit Starbucks to get tea?   In understanding what they buy, companies can begin to personalize their marketing approach.  The result? Anticipating the customer’s needs, and knowing what they want before they do.

The context of location for companies is usually broken down into four scenarios for consumers:

  1. 1) pre-journey
  2. 2) near the store
  3. 3) in-store visit
  4. 4) post visit

Not only is it important for companies to know where consumers are going, but it’s also critical to know what they are doing while in the physical store. After all, 80% of shoppers have used a mobile device while in a physical store to research products and for price comparisons.


According the last US Census, there are 32 million registered businesses in the United States, of which 18 million have brick-and-mortar locations. While e-commerce has grown astronomically, billions of dollars are still spent in storefronts each year.  Therefore, accuracy in geolocation technologies, as well as gathering and interpreting the data correctly, is more important now than ever before.

With any smartphone, the location services features give you an exact point on the map at every second of the day. Now companies are able to interpreting the places people visit, where they spend their time and what they spend their money on.

Brick Stream Places People Visit

Knowing these customer insights is critical in understanding the consumers themselves. Most marketers and business owners understand that location data can be a significant help for target marketing by vicinity.  Therefore, they can reach someone when they are in or near a storefront or point of interest.

Some technology companies allow brick-and-mortar storefronts to go further in depth to analyze their customers. Brickstream is one of several companies that provide these storefronts with analytics in relation to website traffic reports.  Tracking the customer’s movements in stores allows retailers knowledge on how to optimize the positioning and layouts of their stores themselves.

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Brick Stream Foot Traffic Tracking

While Brickstream tracks foot traffic in the stores (seen above), other companies are using devices mobile Wi-Fi addresses to analyze the number of people passing a store, how many actually visit, how long they shop, and if return customers.  Location-based services can do wonders for all retail stores, however, some people view constant tracking as an invasion of privacy.


Mobile location services can be a double-edge sword.  On one hand, it is a strength for marketers, as they can interpret location habits to drive personalized advertisements. Informing, building brand awareness and loyalty will ultimately drives sales. At the same time, privacy is always at the forefront for consumers.

Location-based apps require users to opt-in before sharing location information.  By opting-in, users can determine what type of advertisements or materials they receive from companies.

A more common approach is is opt-out.  This allows the advertisers to target the consumer until the users do not want the ads to be sent to them, and eventually disable notifications.

The smartphone is an incredibly personal tool and can be a Catch-22 for advertisers. The location and information provided by the devices are invaluable; however, at the same time, the user has to be able to trust they aren’t being taken advantage of and are being provided with value.

Location. Location. Location.

According to a Juniper Research report, the mobile context and location-services market will exceed $43 billion by 2019.  To put it into perspective, that number was just over $12 billion in 2014. The power of location in regards to marketing is not a trend, but rather the future.  Advertisers are changing how they think, while adapting to reach their target audience most effectively.

Marketers have to be quicker. They have to be smarter. They have to be more precise. Thanks to the evolving world of location-based services, they are doing just that.

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