A new report from Juniper Research forecasts that the Mobile Context and Location Services market will reach $43.3B in revenue by 2019, rising from an estimated $12.2B in 2014.  This explosive growth anticipated over the next five years is a clear indication that brands and their agencies recognize more than ever the power of location in driving higher conversion rates, more relevant messaging, and the benefit of connecting with consumers at the right time, right place.

But how can brands unlock the full potential from this precision-based approach to digital marketing? One of the keys lies in the balance between brand goals and consumer privacy interests. Do people really want push notifications when they are walking down the aisle of a store?  When does it become intrusive to retarget someone based on where they’ve previously visited? Equally important, how can marketers be assured that their messages are being seen by the right people at the right time and right place?  The promise for location-based marketing is massive, but the art of execution by brands and agencies will be critical to getting it right.

How do marketers verify that their messages are seen by the right people, at the right time and place?

One approach that has been working well is to use location-verified social media posts from consumers as the catalyst for conversation.  By keying in on the context of the post, the person, and other real-time conditions, brands can have a more informed communication and increase their chances of ‘hitting the mark.’  Take Heineken’s recent @wherenext campaign that encouraged people to geo-tag their Tweets to receive location-based advice on the best places to go near them in real-time.  This forward-thinking approach included a specific call-to-action from Heineken to the consumer that encouraged them to reveal their current location in exchange for exclusive and valuable information – a true handshake between brand and consumer.

Or consider how Spotify recently used location to connect exclusively with people attending the Bonnaroo festival. Spotify sent replies to attendees’ Tweets that included playlists of the artists performing. Spotify was able to engage these music lovers at the right time, right place, when the impact of their exchange would be most relevant, longer lasting, and have greatest impact.

There are many new use cases emerging where brands are encouraging location tagging for faster customer service, ‘surprise and delight’ opportunities, and even as a new way to drive people into physical locations where a simple hashtag isn’t enough to “enter and win.”  This type of give and take and real value-add ultimately leads to a deeper trust between brand and consumer, the essence of great marketing.  What’s unique about location is that it can tell us so much more about a consumer if marketers wait to get context before pushing out content.  It tells us that location isn’t only wheresomeone is right now, but rather, who someone is as well.

One of the challenges marketers have had with location-based marketing is having assurance that the target consumer sees the message while they are still at the intended location.  In general, the chances of their audience seeing the ad when the context and impact is greatest are still very low.  As illustrated above, replying directly to a Tweet increases those chances dramatically and gives marketers more assurance that the desired result will be achieved.  Regardless of reach or scale, the conversion rate they are seeking can jump significantly and justify the resources required to connect with the most valuable targets when it matters most.

As consumers begin to see the benefits of tagging their location, and brands begin to provide more relevant and valuable messaging, this channel can become a two-way street where personalization and trust brings brands and consumers closer together.