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Cubs merch store homers with location-based mobile marketing

Sports World Chicago got a boost by targeting a captive audience of potential merchandise buyers near Wrigley Field.

During a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field this year, Sports World Chicago owner Brad Rosen took a chance. Rosen alerted fans electronically that if one of the Cubs hit a home run during the sixth inning, they could get 10% off at his store, which is just 100 yards from the ballpark. He identified store prospects through hashtags that Cubs fans use combined with location data from fans' mobile devices that indicated they were in or near the ballpark.

At Sports World Chicago -- which sells Cubs T-shirts, hats and jerseys -- Rosen now creates a direct line to Cubs fans. He entices them into his store using Geofeedia, a social media monitoring tool that uses location information and social media activity to pinpoint fans' whereabouts. This geolocation-based service has helped Rosen reel in new prospective customers who are more prone to buy because they're so close to his store.

"I can microtarget everyone who is across the street in real time," Rosen said. "I can grab the Twitter handles … of any tweets that come out of the park. There's no better way to reach out to these folks."

Location-based services (LBS) present a new kind of captive audience from which companies can benefit. According to Rosen, targeted communication with close-by fans can boost sales. He said that if he receives 75 new customers a day because of geotargeted messaging, 60% to 70% of them are prompted to come into the store because of personalized messages about discounts.

"The reality is that LBS [are] of huge value," said Stuart Sim, a director in West Monroe Partners' advanced analytics practice. "It's just another dimension to the data set that organizations will have access to."

But at the same time, that intimate knowledge of consumers' comings and goings is more than a little creepy. Companies need to travel a fine line between data insight and privacy. "It becomes a gray area to derive as much meaning without violating security processes," said Sim.

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