Big Brother is watching where you are, if you have a smartphone. The GPS capabilities of the newer smartphones opens up an extraordinary Pandora’s box of opportunities to market  to those in immediate reach, alternatively to deluge them with SPAM, as illustrated by Tom Fishburnes cartoon . (make sure you click through to his Google keynote)

You are a smart young thing, with a purchase history in a chain of fashion stores. As you walk into the orbit of a store, your phone tells them who you are, and that you are close, which offers the chance to mine your database, and come up with tailored specials, available for the next 20 minutes, just for you. Or perhaps as you move towards the cinema complex in George Street, the movie about to start that sits in your preferred genre, offers you a preferred location, and a coffee. The opportunities are endless, the potential to annoy by filling your phone with Spam almost as endless.

This evolution will require a rethink of the customer acquisition process. Aiming messages at consumers with the laser-like accuracy to avoid being a Spammer will require a sophisticated data mining capability, as well as a sensitivity to consumer preferences that will be hard to translate into an algorithm.

The downside for those who do it poorly is that potentially loyal consumers will move elsewhere, and block your messages, the emerging equivalent of retail purgatory.