Geotargeted Push Notifications Coming to a Phone Near You

New service combines personalization, time and context for targeting

Advertisers looking to leverage location to reach consumers are getting a new option.

At the O'Reilly Where Conference in San Francisco today, the Portland, Ore.-based startup Urban Airship is announcing a new service to deliver geotargeted push notifications.

Called Segments, the service marries the company's platform for deploying real-time messages and in-app purchase content with geospatial data amassed by SimpleGeo, a startup acquired by Urban Airship in October.

"We see this as the next natural step in targeted messaging," said CEO Scott Kveton. "It really takes advantage of the inherent nature of mobile. It's a device that goes with you everywhere you go, and it's never further than an arm's length away."

Over the past three years, he said, his company has given top brands and organizations the tools to drive engagement through personalized messaging (currently, it powers 60,000 applications across iOS, Android and BlackBerry and will deliver 3 billion push messages this month alone). The new service integrates latitude and longitude data, as well as public data sources, such as municipal information and weather data, to deliver even more targeted notifications, he said.

With Segments, Kveton said, retailers that have excess inventory in certain regions or cities could send targeted offers to consumers with a preference for that product category. Or, a sports venue could target people that are nearby to drive attendance or ask departing patrons to complete a survey. A few companies are already using the new service, but Kveton said they couldn't yet disclose any names.

Kveton also emphasized that the company doesn't collect personally identifiable information about the users, and the notifications are entirely opt-in.

First off, the user has to install the brand or organization's app before they can be targeted by any of Urban Airship's technology. Then, the app can ask if the user wants to receive notifications, providing the option of saying yes or no. Finally, the user is asked whether he wants to share his location.

"It's almost like a triple opt-in," said Kveton. "What's interesting about that is the users who do do that are highly, highly relevant for those brands because they've opted-in at almost three levels now. So that's exactly the type of folks that they want to reach."

The company said it doesn't yet have data on the effectiveness of the Segment service. But Kveton said customers using push notifications are seeing a 540 percent increase in daily app opens and a 30 percent increase in social sharing.

On Tuesday, the company also announced a partnership with location-based software platform Meridian to offer targeted messaging inside physical locations, such as sports venues and casinos.