O2 launches new mobile marketing tool


O2 claims operator world first with location-based mobile marketing tool; L’Oréal and Starbucks first to sign up

O2 Media, the mobile marketing division of operator O2, is trialling a location-based mobile marketing tool allowing brands to target direct promotions at consumers within a specific area.

The service uses US firm Placecast’s ShopAlerts geo-fencing technology to create location-triggered marketing campaigns.

O2 customers who opt-in to the O2 More scheme are sent relevant promotions via text from brands related to their registered interests when they enter a geo-fenced area.

Placecast has already trialled its technology with a number of companies in the US, such as outdoor clothing brand North Face and restaurant chain Quick Serve, but Placecast chief executive officer Alistair Goodman said O2 is the first operator it is aware of to adopt location-based mobile marketing and target it at its customers.

Coffee chain Starbucks and beauty range L’Oréal are the first brands to sign-up with the O2 Media service, while others are in discussion. Starbucks stores have been geo-fenced to offer customers money off its recently launched Via instant coffee range, as have supermarkets selling the Via range.

L’Oréal’s geo-fences are found around Superdrug stores, offering customers a buy one, get one free promotion on Elvive hair care products in store.

Goodman said the technology provides a “terrific opportunity for brands to reach customers”, as O2 Media managing director Shaun Gregory (pictured) said its opt-in O2 More service provides access to one million consumers, a number which is growing “aggressively” each day thanks to O2’s overall base of 22 million mobile subscribers.

Gregory said: “O2 More was one dimensional, but now we have the opportunity to deliver what customers want, when they want it and when they’re in an area to get it.

“It’s completely different to anything else in the market. Mobile advertising expectations have been enormous in the UK but haven’t lived up to the hype. This could be the catalyst and deliver the holy grail of what mobile is about.”

Placecast has carried out research during its initial trials in the US which showed nearly two-thirds of consumers messaged made a purchase as a result.

Goodman said: “It puts consumers in the mindset to purchase which is the real opportunity.”

Geo-fences can be set to any size in any location and brands can tailor any element of their campaign, such as time-specific individual promotions. Goodman describes Placecast’s work with Quick Serve in the US, where customers are offered breakfast, lunch and dinner promotions according to the time they enter a geo-fenced area.

Customers opting in to O2 More can define the service they receive, based on their profile and interests, as well as being able to opt out of any campaign.

And O2 More guarantees that customers will never receive more than one message a day from the service in order to reduce the risk of spamming customers.

Said Goodman: “We want consumers to view this as a valuable service, not an intrusion. It’s a win for everyone to deliver a programme like this.”

As messages are delivered by text all handsets are targetable, while brands can also include promotional or discount codes in the message that can be recorded at the point of transaction so they can fully analyse conversion rates. Click-through can be activated on messages delivered to smartphones for a more immersive experience, said Goodman.

Gregory sees text messaging as an untapped tool in terms of mobile marketing as it is a long-term staple of the industry. He said: “Messaging is universally accepted and adopted across the market, and importantly they are opened and read.

“If you take messaging for what it is, it cuts straight through to consumers. It is to mobile operators what Coronation Street is to ITV.”