Urban Airship Unveils New Geotargeting Service

App notification and messaging platform Urban Airship on Monday launched a new service for delivering location-targeted messages in apps. The company’s Location Messaging Service allows marketers to combine a user’s current location and location history, along with in-app behaviors and interests to enhance the relevance of mobile messaging.

“We are bringing the consumer back into the center with this approach to location-based marketing, enabling marketers to use everything they know about their most loyal customers -- their app users -- to be more relevant,” said Scott Kveton, co-founder and CEO of Urban Airship, in announcing the new offering today. 

Specifically, the new service allows marketers to tap into location history profiles going back to last year across a range of data sources including ZIP codes, time zones, state legislative districts, cities, neighborhoods and venues. Third-party data suppliers include vendors such as Maponic, Nielsen DMA and OpenStreetMap.

Urban Airship, which powers alerts and other in-app features for brands including CBS Interactive, ESPN, Groupon, shopkick, and Walgreens, late last year acquired location-based service platform SimpleGeo to bolster its location targeting capability.

By bringing together extensive user and location data, Urban Airship aims to provide more precise targeting and better results than a location-related campaign using geo-fencing alone. The company says, for instance, that a retailer could create geo-fences around specific locations to send Black Friday offers tailored to the interests of (opted-in) shoppers who have also visited the stores in the past four weeks.

The new location-based service had its first big test this summer at the London Olympics when it was built into the Official London 2012 Join In app, which provided full event listings, a personal schedule and alerts feature, maps and related guide features.

The app was used to send more than 10 million location-based push messages to people in the stadium and other Olympic venues, including ceremony photos, spectator surveys and information. Nearly 60% of app users had location sharing enabled and location-based push notifications had click-through rates of about 60%, according to an Urban Airship blog post last week.

In a recent interview, Brent Hieggelke, the company’s CMO, suggested the service could be used within apps for in-game surveys or contests at other sports events, or to target VIPs with special offers or amenities to make sure they stick around at a particular venue.

Urban Airship will charge a premium for the upgraded location targeting, but Hieggelke noted the company charges based on the number of users rather than per message. For example, an app with up to 10,000 active users would pay $199 a month, while an app with 75,001-100,000 users would pay $1,999 monthly.

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