Telefonica’s O2 Expands Placecast-Powered Location-Based Ads To Ireland

Carriers may have missed the boat with some of the bigger innovations in mobile content in the last few years — such as app stores, where companies like Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) currently dominate not only the storefronts but the billing behind the services — yet they are still demonstrating some tenacity and advances in other areas like mobile marketing. O2, the pan-European mobile operator owned by Telefonica (NYSE: TEF), is today expanding its O2 More location-based mobile marketing service, first launched in the UK, to its Irish operation.

Launched in collaboration with Placecast, this will be the first large-scale location-based mobile marketing service in Ireland.

O2 and Placecast have said that since launching O2 More, as the service is known in the UK, it has picked up six million users, who opt-in to receive promotions by text and picture messages. Placecast also operates a similar service with AT&T among other channels in the U.S., branded ShopAlerts.

The service works using geofencing technology — sending messages to users only when they are within the vicinity of a participating venue — and works with all mobile devices, not just smartphones. In addition to location, the service takes into account a users’ age, gender and interests when sending offers.

Placecast notes that early brands and retailers that have signed up for the service in Ireland include the home-improvement chain B&Q; candy makers Cadbury; drinks company Diageo; retailer Littlewoods and betting shop Paddy Power. O2 says that typically a user gets no more than one message per day, and only between four and six promotions per month. Messages sent as part of the service are free to users.

Placecast notes that when its services are just launched, responses have been good: some 65 percent of customers who were part of its initial programs made purchases as a result of the messages they received. However, remains to be seen whether location-based marketing projects like these are novelties that will eventually die out, or whether they could gain traction to become longer-term viable routes for marketing.

The use of geofencing is something that we have been seeing from other mobile commerce and marketing plays as well. Among the more recent, it is also used by Square in its Card Case app, allowing users to charge purchases to selected retailers without the need to take out and tap on their handsets.