The age-old “walk by a Starbucks and get a coupon sent to your phone” cliché about mobile advertising is finally about to happen.After years of suspense, new ad products from Loopt and AT&T will attempt to push location-based coupons to your phone.
Specifically, location-based app Loopt announced this week that they are working on a new platform to push deals and coupons to your phone based on your location.
They will be starting it with a stunt this month at South by Southwest in Austin, where they will be using the new Loopt deals platform to give away goodies, like TiVos, Xbox Kinects, Southwest tickets, etc.
AT&T also just announced a new opt-in service called ShopAlerts, which sends offers to your phone based on your location, with participation from brands like K-Mart, HP, JetBlue, SC Johnson, and others.
Will these services work? Will anyone want to use them?
We asked Loopt founder and CEO Sam Altman what needs to happen for services like these to take off. He said:
1) They have to include limited-time, high-value offers. If you walk by a Starbucks every day and get offered 25 cents off coffee, that’s going to get old, quickly. But if once a month, you walk by a Starbucks and get offered a FREE coffee coupon that expires in an hour, that’s memorable, and could actually get you to redeem the offer.
2) They need to give control to users. People may want offers for some things and not others. Let users help define what kinds of offers they want.
3) Loopt won’t be using SMS to deliver the offers. Text messaging can be expensive and is a personal communication channel. Loopt will be using iPhone and Android “push” notifications instead.
Now that many people have smartphones with persistent location tracking, these services are finally technically possible.
Now we’ll need to see if merchants participate in meaningful-enough numbers to make the services worthwhile. And then if they can be designed and delivered in a way that isn’t too obnoxious, but also gets your attention when it matters.