According to the Location Based Marketing Association’s (LBMA) fifth annual Global Location Trends report 2020, 52 percent of marketers globally say their budget went toward location-based marketing, with mobile, static billboards and digital out-of-home (DOOH) considered the top three media considered.

Amid a backdrop of increased application of location data to sell products and services, as well as drive public health awareness around COVID-19, 97 percent of North American respondents say they rely on location-based data—an increase in ten percentage points year-over-year (YoY). Overall, there was an 18 percent increase in the global use of location-based data and services between 2018 and 2020.

Among the location-based technologies that companies currently use, bluetooth beacon technology surpassed WiFi deployments for the first time, with global use of the technology growing 23 percent. Eighty-four percent of EMEA companies use bluetooth beacon tech, followed by 79 percent of North America companies and 75 percent of APAC companies.

A second priority after beacons is GPS-based technology, which LBMA found 52 percent of companies worldwide already using. Here, too, EMEA leads the way (56 percent), with an additional 36 percent planning to add GPS-based solutions later this year. Thirty-eight percent of US respondents aren’t currently using GPS, but plan to by the end of 2021.

As far as smart lighting, LBMA observed a nine percent decrease in investments in the area, which respondents attributed to pandemic-induced store closures and slowed construction of new locations.

Near-field communication (NFC) technology took the biggest hit in 2020, with a 22 percent decline in spend in the APAC region, and an 18 percent drop in EMEA. In North America, just 12 percent are currently using NFC, but an additional 41 percent will utilize it by the end of the year.

When asked what the most beneficial feature of location-based marketing is, 46 percent of respondents globally said the ability to target, followed by its role in increasing brand recall (21 percent) and driving sales at point of sale (17 percent). The benefit that saw the most growth was using location-based marketing to increase brand recall, increasing from just over one percent in 2019 to 21 percent in 2020.

LBMA noticed a 26 percent dip in spending on local search optimization YoY. Driving this shift were COVID-related business closures and advancements in voice and image-enabled search.

Thirty-three percent of companies noted that augmented/virtual reality and merging mobile and digital out-of-home, respectively, will be important topics in location-based marketing. Another 22 percent showed interest in connected car applications.

These findings are based on a survey of 871 companies worldwide.