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Farmers use digital tags to monitor their livestock. Advertisers have it easier. People voluntarily carry tags that constantly report their position and activity: mobile phones.

Personal privacy has disappeared. Where you go and the places you've visited tells advertisers a lot about you. Apps on your phone continuously transmit their location to services who collect this data and enrich it with other information based on the phone's billing address. Businesses customize their ads with these insights increasing the chances of a sale.

Is such advertising ethical?  Businesseslaw enforcement and the government aren't waiting for an answer. Geomarketing like it or not, is already a big business. This bulletin describes how geomarketing can also be used for worthy causes.

This wonderful video from Rewire explains geofencing, how an anti-choice group used it to advertise to women visiting clinics and what you can do to protect your privacy from location tracking services.

Applications in campaigns and organizing

Consider a purely hypothetical case in which a rural hospital might be closed, forcing senior citizens to travel long distances for treatment. A community organizing group is rallying support from seniors who would be hurt to keep the hospital open.

The first step is to identify the seniors who would be affected. How can the organizers contact seniors who visited the hospital recently? Businesses sell this kind of information for geomarketing. All the organizers have to do is draw a virtual outline around the hospital, (geofence it) and specify the time period they are interested in. They receive a report the phones that were in that geofenced area for that time period. Such services can also provides other details such as:
- age of the visitors (which they find from the phone's billing address)
- mailing address (based on the phone's billing address)
- what time of day they visited and how many times they visited

Note: Geomarketing services provide the Mobile Ad ID for the phone and not the owner's actual phone number, in order to protect their privacy. Ads are delivered via the Mobile Ad ID. (More details here).

Geomarketing HowTo GIF1

Customizing the ad campaign
Ads can be customized to the target audience by using their age, income and location. The list of people to receive the ads is determined based on the purpose of the campaign. In this hypothetical example, only senior citizens who frequently visit the hospital would get the ad. Ads can be served to the target list through any ad network including Facebook or Google and appear in mobile apps on the user's phone.

Facebook based targeting
Facebook knows a lot about its users. Why not just run ads through their customized ad targeting?
1. Geomarketing allows you to focus just on the people you'd like to reach. Their age, income, location, voting patterns etc. This lets you target your campaign exactly to your needs.
2. You own the list of potential ad targets you've identified, not Facebook. And you can use the ad delivery network of your choice to serve your ads.

Organizing related geomarketing uses

-Collecting details of supporters attending rally, market or spot where people congregate

-Connecting with gig workers such as drivers who are on the move

-Collecting contact details on students on a college campus

-Organizing workers at a factory or corporate campus

-Ads can be customized by matching the phone's billing address against the voter file

-Plan canvassing for areas with high densities of people you'd like to reach

It is a battle for hearts & minds. We're not going to win tomorrow's battles with yesterday's tools.Contact DemLabs here to learn how to apply geomarketing for socially worthy purposes.

Co-Founder, DemLabs

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