Evolution of Proximity Marketing

Evolution of Proximity Marketing

As much as this sounds like a 21st-century jargon, the underlying concept of location-based sales is as old as trade itself.


In the 1990s, when internet seeped into the homes of people around the world and became a household thing, IP addresses and targeting over Wi-Fi became the newest and the most popular form of targeting by brands. But eventually, enterprises ended up wasting more advertising budget since the device source would be a single computer in most families.


By the early 2000s, when mobile usage became common, location-based advertising became the next big thing in location technology. With phones being a more personal device than a home computer, it became easier for brands to advertise to the individual user on-the-go. But the accuracy of the specific location remained an issue.


Then came smartphones. By the late 2000s, there was a rapid growth of powerful mobile devices with GPS capability. For advertisers, it became easier to find the precise location of a device and use it to fine-tune their advertising strategies. This came to be known as geo-targeting or geo-fencing. It helped create a virtual boundary for the advertiser to yield a specific response once the user was within that defined area. Although this allowed better personalization, GPS would face a signal issue in indoor or underground spaces.


To beat this, the second decade of the millennium saw a rising trend in proximity beacons. These were small Bluetooth devices that would find the accurate positioning of a device as close as 1 meter. Present in two main variants- iBeacon and Eddystone, beacons are mostly installed around public destinations like a shopping mall, sports stadiums, theaters, or theme parks. Proximity beacons help capture the micro-moments of users and revolutionized location marketing.

A lot has changed in the way location targeting has worked for brands all these years. What used to be a local shop owner holding a sign to sell his goods on the streets, has now assumed the form of a technology-backed advertising message on your personal devices.