News & Events

Last update: July 2021


Deliver Moment Signals: Location and Location ML

When it comes to personalizing push notifications, using location targeting can be the difference between a generic mobile marketing campaign and a highly relevant, well-timed one. Using the Location Signal to deploy the delivery of push notification means you’re targeting users based on their location. On the OpenBack dashboard, you can choose between 3 types of Location Signal, depending on what permissions your user consents to:

  • Exact Location Signal
  • Country Geolocation Signal
  • Home/Work Device-Decisions Signal (unique to OpenBack)

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Location Signal: How to Use It

OpenBack provides two signals that you can use based on a user’s geolocation: either through what country they’re in, based on their device’s settings, which does not require user permission. The Country Signal lets you send notifications based on some key context in terms of timezones, localization, and how to address your user.  You will need user permission to employ the Location Signal. If the user consents, this means you have access to any geolocation data, such as phone settings, GPS data, Apple Maps, etc.

The Location Signal is used to target users based on their location. This signal uses all the data from the mobile OS, WiFi and cell towers to be as accurate as possible. The accuracy is reliant on the data available on the device. Any mobile marketer can likely come up with thousands of reasons why being able to target users by their exact location will come in handy. It can help you send contextually relevent messages that will have more of a likelihood of click-through. Or you can send a coupon or promo for a new item on sale just as an app user walks by one of your brand’s brick-and-mortar stores.

When setting up your push campaign in the dashboard, you can add these permissions to target users using their exact location.

location signal code

How Can You Convince Your User to Allow You to Access Their Location Data?

As data transparency becomes more and more a priority for device users, mobile apps are becoming more restricted in what user data they can access. iOS devices require apps to obtain user consent before sending push notifications. And now, as of the iOS 14.5, App Tracking Transparency means apps have to gain user consent before tracking their IDFA data for sending targeted ads.

However, developers can improve their chances of obtaining user consent for push notifications by sending a pre-permission notification, using rich media to explain how allowing notifications will improve the app experience. Likewise, you can use a push notification to perform the same function of pre-empting the OS notification asking for user permission to access their location data. Explain to them how app UX improves when you have access to geolocation data.

Use Cases for Geofencing and Location-Based Campaigns

For example, depending on what the utility of your app is, full access to location data can help you send notifications that are more relevent to their immediate surroundings, and therefore more helpful on the user’s end. For traffic apps, weather apps, AR mobile games, COVID-19 contact tracing apps, and others whose function relies on being able to track your user’s location, most users will give their consent easily enough. For other apps where the necessity of data access is less obvious, you may have to be more abstract about its benefits. Explain to them the promise of your app, and how access to geolocation data can optimize that. For example, it can help ensure that you never send push notifications at inappropriate times, such as when the user is at work or driving.

For example, you can send notifications to users when they enter a specific geofenced area. This can be very effective for events such as concerts, conventions, sports events, etc., a platform that aggregates tourism information for both tourists and locals, has made excellent use of OpenBack’s exact geofencing Location Signal in many creative ways, such as to give real-time parking directions once users enter a parking lot for an event, or pinging them with information about local tourist spots or interesting destinations they might wish to explore more in the area.

location signal dashboard
Screenshot of OpenBack Dashboard, Location Signal drop-down box

Places (Home/Work) Location Signal

While you require prior permission from users to use the Exact Location Signal, you can use the Country Signal and the Places Signal without permission. The device-decisions Place Signal is unique to OpenBack, and uses a machine learning algorithm over a rolling 7-day period to track user behaviors on their device and gauge whether they are at home or at work. For example, if there is a certain location where a user travels to 5 days a week, where they are only using their device sporadically over the span of 8 hours, the algorithm determines that the user is at their workplace. The place they go afterward is presumably your home, and the algorithm gauges different behaviors to be able to predict when the user will be at work or home.

Because the Home/Work Signal doesn’t use geographic location, instead building a virtual map of the user’s actions at certain times of the day, you can use it even if the user hasn’t given their permission to track their geolocation. So, as the algorithm determines for you whether the user is at home or work, you can still cater notification content to the user’s surroundings. The algorithm also makes use of other data that the app does have access to, such as device charging patterns, Wi-Fi, and different usage patterns to create a more complete picture of where your user is.

The Places Signal and its device-decisions machine-learning algorithm is unique to OpenBack, and it allows for a new depth of creative targeting for mobile marketers. To learn more about these and other custom Signals that enable you to send notifications at the exact right moment that your users are most primed to engage.


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