So Forrester tells us that geolocation apps (such as Foursquare to you and me) aren’t yet an advertisers’ gold mine. They have a role but not the reach of other digital routes such as SMS, mobile search and WAP display advertising.

By implication, there may be an opportunity to for metropolitan service businesses, but any potential for these channels comes with heavy caveats. Location-based services may be useful for reaching early adopters, but not mainstream audiences – you’d best reach them some other way.

Missing the point

Isn’t that rather missing the point though?

We’re told location-based users are 38% more likely than the average US online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision.

Put another way (not so much about the caveats and excuses), we spend much of our lives in marketing trying to reach entire audiences simply because we can’t find a way of reaching the much smaller group of influential opinion formers that will tell their friends.

A direct line to word of mouth

Millions have been spent on research showing that the “mavens” are the people to reach who will spread word-of-mouth advocacy around their peer groups and beyond.

The problem is we usually can’t find them, or finding them takes so much effort we might as well try to reach everyone in one go.

These influencers differ for different products and services (would you go to the same person for advice on banking, gadgets, health and fashion?). Again, we waste a lot of effort and budget trying to get to the people that get to the people.

Here, though, is a channel which does reach that self-identifying audience of influential opinion formers which is marketing gold dust.

Let’s not be sniffy about it, or feel we have to “caveat” too much. Let’s make the most of it before location-based audiences become so mainstream that the opinion-formers are diluted.

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