The Geofencing Manifesto


This Manifesto was created by the audience at the SxSW 2014 workshop entitled “The Future Landscape of Geofencing Manifesto” on Saturday, March 8th, 2014.


The year is 2014. We have hundreds of millions of always-on, portable, personal devices that enable marketers and advertisers to reach us in new and creative ways. New and creative is awesome. New and creative is bad. Now is the time to define the relationship between marketers and consumers, now is the time to establish what is appropriate, what is acceptable and what is intrusion. Today in this room we have opportunity to frame the future landscaping of geofencing as the great technologists, marketers and consumers that we are.


  1. Consumers- As consumers we want relevant information now, we don’t want to be bothered, we don’t want things pushed at us. We want to be in control of what we see, when we see it and how we see it. We don’t belong to marketing segments, we are individuals with our own segment just for ourselves. We perceive the best technologies not as the ones with the newest hardware or software, but as the ones that are the most useable. We want marketers to read our minds, but not our emails.
  2. Brands and Marketers- As marketers, we want to reach the right audience at the right time, we want to make people believers, we want to build long-term relationships with our customers. We love it when our customers tell us what we should do, but we hate it when anyone else does. We want to show our customers that we are leaders in our space, we want to stand out from the crowd. We want to know everything about our customers; Their habits, their financial status, where they live, what they like, what they don’t like; But we don’t want our customers to think we are stalkers.

Scope of Geofencing

Geofencing is the act of creating a boundary around an object or point either physical or digital. These boundaries are used to group points in their relation to the fence or trigger actions when the boundary is crossed. As technology has advanced, these boundaries are becoming more granular, more capable of interactive engagement, and are moving indoors.

While traditionally used for 1-way communications to understand relation a fenced area, geofencing is increasingly being leveraged by technologists and marketers to engage consumers in a conversation. No longer are geofences serving as triggers for simple actions, but now geofences are being integrated with complex, interactive processes like retail purchasing, contextual content delivery and real-time way finding.


We must organize how we intelligently evolve geofencing before it gets out of control:

  1. Like all innovations, geofencing is only going to get more sophisticated, grow and spread; we can’t predict how it will grow but we can determine how to guide it.
  2. Marketers and consumers must decide how geofencing technology and application will progress, not wait for a government committee to be drawn to guide geofencing’s fate.
  3. We need to build the relationship between marketers and consumers to make sure geofencing is a positive tool for everyone to use.
  4. The relationship is built on connections and trust.
  5. Marketers must be responsible to make sure that they don’t abuse consumers trust.
  6. Responsibility means that we protect data, regardless of who owns it, and we consider the expectations and needs of both parties.

Consumers have expectations and they expect them to be met:

  1. We, consumers, expect the newest technology be available to improve our experience and make our lives better.
  2. Geofencing must be a tool that serves consumers, not a tool to barge into our lives
  3. Marketers need to listen to what we want and not forget it, otherwise we’ll just cut you out.
  4. Marketers need to realize there are infinite data streams in our lives and you should realize that you’re not the only channel we’re tuned to.
  5. Marketer should only engage us when we want them to.
  6. We should be able to control the conversation with marketers.
  7. Only message us if it’s something that will make our lives better, not just because you feel like talking� make it concise and to the point.
  8. Remember that we don’t like hearing the same thing over and over so remember what you say to us and how you say it.
  9. If I don’t respond to your message, then let it go because messaging me every time I walk through a certain area is only going to make me look down on you.
  10. Use your best judgement on what to send, but make sure to look at it through my eyes.
  11. Use my data as it helps to benefit my causes; don’t keep it if it doesn’t help me, don’t use it if it doesn’t help me, don’t sell it period.
  12. For no reason should you consider sending me anything related to SPAM.
  13. If you want to stand out, then you need to treat me like you know me, not my demographic.
  14. Reaching out to me proactively is good providing you’re sending me content that you know I’m going to like.
  15. When you want to engage with me, I expect you to ask permission and tell me why I should allow the conversation to happen.
  16. Tell me what you’re going to access on my device and how you’re going to use it.
  17. Be smart with how you use features on my device, if I find my battery is drained because of you it won’t help our relationship.
  18. Make it clear if this is going to be a long term conversation or if this is a one-time affair.
  19. Just because our conversation may have ended once, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to continue to engage with you.

Marketers aren’t without their own expectations:

  1. As marketers we’re also consumers and try our best to think like you.
  2. When we do a good job, we want you to let us know (and maybe your friends too).
  3. We’re looking to do a great job for you, but if things go a little wrong let us know how we can make those things better.
  4. We want to build a long term relationship with you, we know that means we must build up your trust.
  5. Your data is valuable to us, we work hard not to abuse it.
  6. Sometimes we need your data to make your life better or easier.
  7. We’ll try and tell you exactly why we need your data, hopefully you can trust us at that point.

Marketers also have some ground rules for themselves:

  1. We must be in this together because if geofencing is abused, it could ruin this for everyone.
  2. If we approach this selfishly then we’ll spend all our time fighting ourselves instead of engaging with consumers.
  3. Data is sacred to our consumers, if you misuse it then all marketers will suffer the consequences.
  4. The airwaves are everyone’s, but the space around my location is more mine than yours.
  5. If we don’t want an all-out war for space, then don’t try and invade
  6. Consider that consumers need to receive value and they don’t get that by us fighting amongst ourselves to vie for supremacy
  7. Let’s not make it hard for consumers to engage with us because we are bombarding them with messaging.
  8. We need to share consumers.
  9. We all have an equal right to try and communicate with consumers, but let’s agree to do it intelligently.

With the growth in data gathering and consumption, we must make sure we maintain trust in the consumer-marketer relationship:

  1. Marketers should make use of available data to understand their business environments, but should never use this data to individually connect with a user
  2. Marketers must be smart on the data they collect, they should not collect non-relevant data for other purposes
  3. Consumers must be given the an option of how much they want to share with a marketer.
  4. It should never be assumed that consumers want to share data.
  5. Consumers must be given an option of how much they want to share with marketers.
  6. Marketers must also make it known how they will use this data.
  7. PII (Personally Identifiable Information) data should not be used if it is not helping to deliver value to the consumer.
  8. If personally identifiable information is kept then this must be made known.
  9. Consumers need to know that marketers security is going to keep them safe, not the details but make it known.
  10. Selling or sharing user data should be carefully evaluated by the marketer and legal team, but ultimately decided on by the user.

We can’t predict the future, but we can plan on how to grow together:

  1. No decisions are finite in how technology evolves, they are a conversation that involves everyone.
  2. As we move forward, it’s all of our jobs ( marketers, technologists and consumers ) to evolve geofencing together.
  3. We must all be transparent, open and honest with each other in this conversation if geofencing is going to benefit everyone.
  4. These conversations don’t happen in a physical delegation.
  5. They happen when marketers work with technologists to explain their needs.
  6. They happen when consumers tell marketers what works for them and what doesn’t
  7. They happen when a consumer presses a simple ‘like’ button, leave a comment or buy a product.
  8. Moving forward, to be successful, marketers must realize that the fence that delivers the most value to consumers wins. no matter the location.

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