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AT&T ramps up location-based mobile ad alerts

updated 08:50 am EST, Mon February 28, 2011

ATT ShopAlerts use GPS to send text ads

AT&T on Monday launched a voluntary ad system that uses the GPS positioning of modern smartphones to give deals. ShopAlerts rely on creating a GPS-aware perimeter around retail stores that will send off a text message promoting a deal whenever the phone owner passes nearby. Companies such as HP, Kmart, JetBlue, SC Johnson, Kibbles 'n Bits, and Nature's Recipe are all vowing exclusive discounts for those in the right place at the right time.

The rollout is based on technology from Placecast and will first be available both in that company's home town of San Francisco as well as Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles. Customers have to be both an AT&T subscriber and opt into ShopAlerts for them to take effect. More advertisers and cities are expected in the future.

Location-aware advertising has existed in the past but has usually relied on the user taking some action, such as checking in with Foursquare or Facebook Places at a nearby venue. Many have been hesitant to offer automatic local ads in part because of privacy and the possible intrusiveness. AT&T's system at least theoretically avoids these by giving them ads they know are coming but can more easily ignore.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Aeolius

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'll pass

    There better be an opt-out on this one, otherwise, when I drive by Kmart and my phone buzzes, causing me to involuntarily swerve and crash into a bus, I am suing Kmart. ;) (okay, okay... I am not lawsuit-happy, but I'm sure that'll happen to someone)

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Not much different than the apple store app for the iPhone, which recognizes where you are when you walk in.

    There better be an opt-out on this one,

    I guess you missed the parts that said "voluntary ad system" and "Customers have to ... opt into ShopAlerts for them to take effect."

    when I drive by Kmart and my phone buzzes, causing me to involuntarily swerve and crash into a bus, I am suing Kmart

    No you wouldn't. You'd sue Apple! Because they made the phone that is running on ATT's network that you installed the app for that caused your phone to buzz when you drove by the store.

    Oh, and don't forget the car manufacturer. I'm sure they should have put in some sort of shield to prevent such things from happening.

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