A Quick Guide to… Geo-tagging

A Quick Guide to… Geo-tagging

Home » A Quick Guide to… Geo-tagging

Geo-tagging is a pretty new term that falls into the same camp as metadata, geofencing and beacons. It’s all to do with the digital footprint we leave every time we make a post on social media or take a picture, but unless you are particularly technical or need to know because, well, you need to know then it’s unlikely you’d be able to articulately explain to you mate in the pub exactly what any of them are. Or why they matter. So, here’s our quick guide to geo-tagging to get you started

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What is geo-tagging?

In layman’s terms, which are our favourite kind of terms, it’s adding geographical data to a form of media.  In most cases, this happens automatically as it’s built into the apps we use every day and is capture via the same kind of GPS that you use in your car to get you from A to B.

But what does it actually mean?

When you look at a picture or video, for example, and access the data behind it (called the metadata), you can see exactly when and where the picture or video was taken plus a whole host of other rich data, all unique to that specific picture.  Or when you check-in somewhere on Facebook, or allow Instagram to post your location with your picture, the result is geo-tagging as it captures where you are as a specific location.

How big a deal is it?  Staggeringly, over 82% of all digital data contains some form of geo-tagging that is willingly shared by the author.

So what does it have to do with the retail sector?  This is where it gets clever, as it allows something called ‘location-based marketing’ to happen.  This is where brands can access where someone is based thanks to the GPS data available from their phone and can target advertising based on that location.

Sounds kind of intrusive… It can be, and that’s why you can turn off ‘location services’ on your handset or just give certain apps permission to access your location.

I’m not sure I like the sound of it.  Actually, in an age where we expect a more personalised service based on our likes and preferences, any form of geo-tagging helps this be more effective. So when you have a specific brand’s app on your phone that you have given permission to access this data, it means you can get things like text messages and notifications about promotions and campaigns and even more active participation in social media based on knowing you are in the vicinity of a store.

Sounds like a good marketing tool?

It’s a hugely powerful marketing tool as it allows a brand to understand more about their customers. They can learn about individual routines and habits and also learn valuable insight about the foot flow through their store portfolio based on data thrown out by geo-tagging. It also allows more targeted marketing, as we’ve already touched on, to help drive customers in to physical stores or even help influence advertising sites.

Geo-tagging, like all digital data, allows brands to build a richer and deeper understanding of their customer base. However, as with any data set, it’s only as useful as the analysis undertaken and action delivered as a result of having access to it. In a sector dominated by the online experience, knowing more about the location of consumers is sure to help bricks and mortar retailers make the most of their physical offerings but only if they lean to incorporate this into a wider understanding of how to build a truly seamless customer experience.


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