Profile of North Face Local-Mobile Ad Campaign

The New York Times offers a really interesting piece about how the outdoor equipment retailer North Face intends to use proximity based marketing (via SMS) or "geo-fencing" to promote sales and products to consumers within a particular neighborhood area.

According to the story in the Times:

For now, the North Face will send texts about promotions, like a free water bottle with a purchase, and new arrivals, because the company’s gear is heavily seasonal. A text message would say, for example, “TNF: The new spring running apparel has hit the stores! Check it out @ TNF Downtown Seattle.”

1020 Placecast is the platform/enabler behind the campaign: 

Placecast created 1,000 geo-fences in and around New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Boston, cities where the North Face has many stores and areas that get a lot of snow or rain, so the company can tailor its messages to the weather. In urban areas, the fences are up to half a mile around stores, and in suburban areas they are up to a mile around stores.

The North Face campaign is an opt-in SMS campaign, which are relatively common today. The novel element is the fact that location will trigger delivery of the message when people enter one of the zones that Placecast has set up. 

These types of campaigns will be highly successful by their nature: people have opted-in and the highly local aspect will very likely drive people into stores. Placecast has an even more sophisticated notion of how to combine geography, demographics, context and time of day. But as you do more targeting you narrow your audience -- greater precision and response but smaller reach. 

Mobile marketing and advertising is a potentially much more precise and specific instrument than online (from a push standpoint). It will be very interesting to see how this campaign turns out (if North Face will allow Placecast to share that with the world).