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Geo-fencing is a comparably new phenomenon in the sphere of marketing that depends on the progress of information and communication technologies and on their integration in the marketing strategies along with improved marketing practices. According to Silk, geo-fencing is “the use of location-based services to send tailored text alerts to consumers in close proximity to a retail store or other property” (Silk par. 1).
Today, marketers choose geo-fencing in order to monitor their consumers daily and have the opportunity to constantly promote their products and services to those consumers that are indentified as within the certain location during a certain period of time (Spiegel par. 3). As a result, the daily rates of consumers attending malls and boutiques increase because text alerts provide the potential consumers with the important advertising information at the appropriate time.
Discussing the advantages of geo-fencing, marketers determine only one possible barrier that is the privacy concern. However, the experts in the field of marketing state that the modern society becomes extremely consumerist, and the discussion of the issue of privacy also changes because of shifts in the consumers’ views (Saylor 234). Thus, geo-fencing techniques should be promoted in the spheres of marketing and advertising because the public becomes more loyal in relation to the lack of privacy.
Geo-fencing is a highly provocative tool to be used in marketing because consumers are inclined to avoid messages and advertisements that are discussed as disturbing and intrusive. This idea is supported by Silk who states that “just one annoying or invasive text alert can drive away customers” (Silk par. 1).
Furthermore, the text alerts spread with the focus on the geo-fencing technology are often discussed by customers as spam, and the majority of consumers even do not notice the texts provided in such messages (Saylor 52). Thus, Silk compares geo-fencing with “an electronic dog collar that buzzes every time” when a person can hit the ‘fence’ (Silk par. 4).
As a result, each text alert received by the customer without his or her consent makes the customer ignore the information and even contact the manager of the shop in order to discuss the details of protecting and sharing the private information about the geographical location of the consumer (Gralla, Sacco, and Faas par. 8). In this case, the problem of privacy becomes a kind of a barrier for the management team using geo-fencing to increase their sales.
It is important to emphasize the idea that geo-fencing is directly associated with the issue of privacy because this marketing technique is rather illegal in its nature. As a result, consumers’ privacy is violated with the help of modern technological devices. Therefore, Silk states in his article that “the use of real-time location data to reach consumers on their mobile devices is highly personal” (Silk par. 1). The real-time location data is a specific type of data, and consumers and lawyers view these data as obviously personal (Saylor 89).
In this situation, a question about the customer’s consent appears. The problem is in the fact that these personal data are usually used by marketers without the customer’s consent and awareness of the issue. This fact makes the situation be complicated, while discussing it from the legal perspective. In order to understand why the aspect of privacy is important, it is necessary to refer to the history of discussing the privacy concept.
It is significant to state that the legal concept of privacy was formulated by Warren and Brandeis in 1890. The two Harvard professors discussed the concept of privacy as a “right to be let alone” (Saylor 122). While focusing on the geo-fencing technique, it is possible to claim that this vital right is violated when marketers learn the location of the customer after the process of crossing the virtual ‘fence’.
In spite of being discussed as a marketing technique of the future, geo-fencing is not supported by customers because the possibility to control the information used by the marketer is limited. Therefore, consumers continue to insist on providing more opportunities to protect their personal data and address the privacy issues because the consumers’ desire to protect their private data increases along with the development of techniques to invade the private life (Brustein par. 3).
In this context, the focus on opt-in messaging is characteristic for modern buyers, and this approach is opposite to the idea of geo-fencing because marketers need to know all the possible personal data about the customers and their changes in location (Silk par. 4). The problem is in the fact that geo-fencing technologies develop actively, and today geo-fencing techniques are not limited with “location-based applications and check-ins” (Spiegel par. 8).
Spiegel pays attention to the fact that “retail, push marketing/notification, local search, social networking, and more will all come together to connect consumers with brands and offers, almost anywhere, at anytime – well, anywhere that digital fence is drawn” (Spiegel par. 8).
As a result, consumers become more vulnerable because the scope of approaches to access and use the consumers’ private data increases regularly (Saylor 128). Customers have limited opportunities to control all the changes in applications in order to protect their private information used for geo-fencing and similar purposes.
In addition, the process of sharing the personal information can have dangerous consequences for the consumer. The problem is in the fact that many geo-fencing technologies are based on inappropriate platforms, and the personal data can be shared in the Internet and used by criminals (Gralla, Sacco, and Faas par. 7). For instance, the Please Rob Me Web Site “demonstrated how easy it would be for potential thieves to use social networks to find homes whose occupants were away” (Brustein par. 9).
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To use the information utilized for geo-fencing is even easier because the applications used for geo-fencing are based on the concrete information about the person’s real-time location. If consumers are attentive while providing any private data in the writing form, it is difficult to limit the access of marketers to the personal information that is shared with the help of applications in smartphones and private data fixed when the consumer uses the website.
From this point, geo-fencing is an effective choice for marketers who are inclined to rely on the idea that consumers will change their attitude to the issue of privacy in the future. Furthermore, geo-fencing is a good strategy for those marketers who share the view that the lack of privacy is the tendency that is observed in the marketing world today. In addition, geo-fencing is advantageous for customers who do not care about their privacy and do not pay attention to terms and conditions presented in applications or on the retailing and other web sites.
Brustein, Joshua. Tag-Along Marketing. 2010. Web.
Gralla, Preston, Al Sacco, and Ryan Faas. Smartphone Apps: Is Your Privacy Protected? 2011. Web.
Saylor, Michael. The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything. New York: Vanguard Press, 2012. Print.
Silk, Matt. Geofencing Can Be an Invasion of Privacy. 2014. Web.
Spiegel, Benjamin. Geo-Location, Geo-Fencing & Creep Factor: The Future of Location Data and Mobile Advertising. 2013. Web.