Help me understand what is different about these geofencing options?
November 15, 2016 3:07 AM   Subscribe

I do marketing for a chain of stores in the Midwest. One of the owners thinks we need to spend money on geofencing. He found a company that does it for a hefty price. But they claim that a person does not need to access their phone within the fence to receive an ad impression. Another company I work with tells us that your phone must be accessed within the fence. Both agree that you have to have location services on. Which is it? Are they both right?

Company A (don't need to open your phone) claims that as long as you are in the fence, and have location services on, as well as an app downloaded that sells space, you are subject to seeing an ad. I have asked them many times if the customer has to interact with their phone. Or have an app open that participates. They claim no. You could have all apps closed, never unlock your phone and you may still receive an ad next one you access one of those apps, even if you are outside of the fence at the one.

Company B (you need to access your phone) claims you need to interact with your phone in some way so that it registers in the fence. You do need to have an app open that participates. we asked them about the other companies claims and they have never heard of anything like that. They were kind of puzzled how they could do that.

Neither company can explain the difference in the two. Is company A full of it? Or are these two different forms of geofencing? Company A is significantly more expensive, almost double.
posted by bodgy to Technology (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Company A could be using various technologies, a background app service to report your location, passive or active Bluetooth/wifi device address recorders on your premises, etc.

You need to press both companies for more technical details including how they account for differences on iPhone& Android. You will need to weigh the privacy implications of the technology you pick also.

Also consider what mobile ad networks they are using, some are a lot more unscrupulous than others.
posted by TheAdamist at 4:37 AM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


could you get company A to demonstrate?
posted by andrewcooke at 4:42 AM on November 15, 2016


I've asked company A to demonstrate but they have no customers in the area. Nothing even within driving distance.

As far as what technology, they claim that the user just needs to have an app that sells ad space and that uses location services enabled and enter the fence. No interaction from the user is needed.
posted by bodgy at 4:47 AM on November 15, 2016


As far as what technology, they claim that the user just needs to have an app that sells ad space and that uses location services enabled and enter the fence. No interaction from the user is needed.

That's not an answer to 'what technology;' it's a description of what it (supposedly) does, not how it accomplishes it. TheAdamist is suggesting you press company A for details about how they do it, i.e. a background app service to report your location, passive or active Bluetooth/wifi device address recorders on your premises, etc. A bit of technical specificity will shine a bright light on what they can and can't actually do for you, which will help you gauge their value proposition.

Company A is significantly more expensive, almost double... they have no customers in the area. Nothing even within driving distance.

Well then, maybe a discount on the order of 50% off is in order, to help them broaden their market.
posted by jon1270 at 5:13 AM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've asked company A to demonstrate but they have no customers in the area. Nothing even within driving distance.

Company A should be able to build a sandbox demo for you. They should be able to set the fence at 100ft surrounding your office (or some other arbitrary place), and give you an app to install that, when opened, will give you some kind of information that you can use to confirm that the app actually detected when you were within the fence.

What Company A says sounds technically possible, but also likely to trigger various permissions checks that users are likely to decline (Crushing Words with PokeFrenemies is requesting permission to access your location when your phone is locked. Accept/Decline?)
posted by sparklemotion at 12:37 PM on November 15, 2016


It sounds to me like company A is using newish geofencing APIs like region monitoring. On iPhones at least, this isn't handled directly by the app -- the app registers certain regions and the OS tells the app when the user's entered the area (even if the app isn't running, I believe). This is for privacy, so the app doesn't have to actually know the user's location. I'd guess that they're able to show the user an ad later because the app was able to record the visit when it happened.

Company B sounds like a more traditional kind of "geofencing" where an active app tracks your location and acts accordingly (think Pokemon Go). Less private (for the user) because you have to give the app permission to access your location data.
posted by neckro23 at 2:41 PM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


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