Traditionally, advertising was a way for businesses to communicate with the masses. But with the growth of internet technologies, social media, and smartphone a revolution has started. Not only is this new kind of advertising cheaper, but it is no longer aimed at the masses. Businesses can now advertise to you based on your needs and wants.
What does that mean? Has technology become sentient while I was lazing around in front of my Contour TV? While it may seem like technology has become sentient and taken an interest in your life. That is not entirely true. Technology is working its way to being sentient. But it has advanced enough to be able to track your every move.
How Can Technology Track Me?
The concept was introduced by social media. Do you remember when we were introduced to the concept of social media ‘check-ins’? Everyone and their dog started checking into places where they visited. Which meant, if someone wanted to find where you frequent, a few clicks on your profile and voila!
Remember the influence of social media, because the next thing that tracks us is our beloved phone. Remember when we stood in line for hours to get our hands on the latest iPhones? Why did we do that? Because they had the latest technology. Well, smartphone technology kept on growing. The tech companies didn’t tell you everything about the latest features.
Do you know what geolocation is? It is a term coined to define the process of your smartphone tracking your movements. Well, more specifically, businesses tracking your location through your smartphones. So let’s say you walked into a department store 15 times a month. You were carrying your phone with you. So someone can see that you walked into that department store 15 times a month.
How Can Google Track Me?
For most of us, Google is our portal to the internet. When we are searching for something, more often than not, we’re using Google. When you are on the move, do you use Google Maps? Is your phone syncing your calendar, contacts, and photos with Google? So Google has all your information.
It knows your calendar, it knows who you know. And it knows which beach you went to because you took a picture there. Now, of course, all your personal information remains private as per policy. But your location is not covered in the policy. So businesses can find out where you have been. Where you frequent and categorize you as such.
If you go to a yoga studio or a gym then you can be categorized as a fitness enthusiast. If you visit a school at drop-off or pick-up times you can be categorized as a parent or guardian. If you visit a mechanic often, you can be categorized as someone with a problematic car. Do you see the pattern here?
How Does This Affect Advertising?
Advertising is a $580 Billion a year industry and it’s growing. What do you think that money is for? It’s money spent by companies to get us to buy their products and services. Advertisers today have access to information which allows them to reach us directly.
Let’s say advertisers find out that you are a fitness enthusiast through geolocation tracking. They know you like to stay fit. So they will categorize you as such. And along with other fitness enthusiasts you will be sent advertisements. They will be on your social media pages and even in your phones through apps. And those advertisements would be for products like fitness wear.
Similarly, through geolocation, let’s say you are categorized as a parent. Now you are being targeted for advertisements for children’s safety products. Child safety apps, and even back-to-school season special offers.
How is This Type of Advertising Beneficial to Businesses?
Geolocation and targeted advertising are not beneficial to individuals. Businesses, on the other hand, are able to advertise ‘smartly’ and convert more customers. Think about this. Imagine you run a used car business. You get a list of contact numbers for people with problematic cars. What would you do?
Would you throw the list away, or contact them and ask them to come in for a test drive? Most business owners would ask them to come in for a test drive and try to make a sale. That is what geolocation tracking does for businesses through advertising. Taking the same example. You get a list of people who frequent mechanics. What do you do?
Most likely, you would send them advertisements. You would tell them that your company will buy their old and crappy car. And offer them financing on a new and fancy car. And by targeting people with problematic cars, you are effectively increasing your chances of conversion.
Advertising today has become more targeted than ever. I remember a time when advertisements were limited to billboards, magazines, and TV. But somewhere along the line, while I was busy watching movies on the Hallmark channel, the world changed. We moved away from generic advertising that tried to appeal to everyone. And now we have a more targeted and specific form of advertising