Location-based services (LBS) have topped the global league, as the mobile feature set to grow the most after world leading insights consultancy, TNS revealed more than 60 per cent of those that don’t yet use the service globally want to start. This is of even greater interest in the UAE where this figure stands at 79 per cent.
TNS’s annual Mobile Life study – which explores mobile use among 48,000 people in 58 countries – shows the majority of people around the world now recognise the value of sharing their location to benefit from a range of services.
The key findings, released as a set of interactive visualisations show that the services and apps people use vary considerably from region to region (Available at www.tnsglobal.com/mobilelife).
Location-based services move into the mainstream in the UAE
Almost one fifth of the world’s six billion mobile users are already using LBS, with more than three times this number – 62 per cent – aspiring to do so in the future. Navigation via GPS remains the most popular motivation behind the LBS uptake, which currently stands at 52 per cent in MENA.
There is also growing interest in more diverse activities, with 13 per cent of social network users ‘checking-in’ through platforms like Foursquare or Facebook Places, versus 11 per cent in 2011.
LBS users are increasingly using services to enrich their social lives, with one out of four people in the UAE using LBS to find friends nearby compared to one in five globally. Around a quarter use the technology to find restaurants and entertainment venues, while 19 per cent check public transport schedules and 8 per cent to book a taxi.
Savvy LBS users in the UAE have realised that there is something to be gained from sharing their locations with brands and retailers – with 11.5 per cent sharing their location in exchange for a deal or special offer; almost at par with the global average of 12.5 per cent.
Beyond current users of LBS, globally a third of people who already or would like to use mobile voucher schemes, highly rate receiving deals when they are nearby a store that they like. One in five mobile users stated that they find mobile advertising interesting if it is offering them a deal near their current location.
Steve Hamilton-Clark, CEO of TNS MENA explained that location based services are finally ‘coming of age’.
“People are realising that sharing their location often offers some kind of reward in terms of a discount or deal. It is the combination of time and context – directing people towards a deal when they can easily redeem it. This unlocks a powerful tool for marketers to develop targeting approaches,” he said.
A complex map of global use
He noted that while the study has shown an increasing willingness to engage with LBS, there are also significant variations in people’s reasons for embracing the service across different markets. Of all current LBS users, Latin Americans most use the feature to find friends, with 39 per cent stating it as the top reason to share their location, compared to 24 per cent in the UAE.
“There a regional variations on what prompts the desire to engage and these highlight the importance of having a targeted strategy when it comes to location based marketing.
“LBS offers marketers an unprecedented level of engagement and targeting, however it has to be done in line with how people in individual markets want to engage with brands to avoid being intrusive. Where brands get it right, we have seen significant rewards in terms of brand engagement, loyalty and sales,” Hamilton-Clark concluded.