2012 Media Trends: Checking In on Checking Out

With strong winds in their sails from the warm consumer embrace of smartphones and tablets—and the apps, content and media consumption they enable—mobile marketers are setting their sights on using these devices to influence transactions. This represents an evolution of the mindset of getting the consumer in the door. Broadly, this is a cultural shift from check-ins to checkouts.

While many mobile users have taken advantage of their device’s ability to connect location with useful information, such as maps, directions or recommendations, comparatively few ever caught on to the check-in trend. Pew Internet & American Life Project found in May that while 58% of smartphone users had used some kind of location-based service on their phone, just 12% had checked in somewhere.

But even as these geosocial services have failed so far to catch on among a mass audience, smartphone owners are only becoming more interested in other types of location-based services—especially deals. Mobile advertising and marketing firm Hipcricket reported in October that interest in time- or location-based mobile offers had increased from 40% of smartphone owners in 2008 to 54% of smartphone owners in 2011.

Although marketers and consumers still find value in services that use location parameters for their own sake, they are now more interested in harnessing geographic data to close a sale. This transition is driven partly by the fading novelty of services that were designed mainly to give people bragging rights for being the “mayor” of a local establishment. Consumers seem more interested in using their smart devices to get real-time deals or make purchases.


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