LONDON: An increasing number of UK retailers and agencies are testing location-based technologies, although some industry insiders warn they need to be careful not to bombard consumers with irrelevant messages.

As reported by Marketing Week, Weve – the mcommerce joint venture between EE, O2 and Vodafone, the UK's three largest mobile network operators – is one of the companies offering such geo-targeting capabilities.

Aided by its access to data covering more than 20m mobile users across its three shareholder networks, Weve has already witnessed a three- to four-fold increase in spend for the last quarter of this year from brands using its mobile targeting service when compared with the beginning of 2013.

"We're getting big campaigns booked from clients which in the first half of this year were just dipping their toes in the water with smaller budgets," Nigel Clarkson, Weve's commercial director, explained.

"Because we have delivered good clickthrough rates and response rates, some of those brands are now spending three or four times as much because they're confident with what we're delivering."

This development coincides with recent news that Apple has launched the iBeacon targeting system across its 254 US stores, as well as a couple of Macy's stores, ahead of a roll out to other retailers.

Tesco, the UK supermarket giant, has also begun to test the new technology, and ran a mobile campaign last month in which it reminded customers within the vicinity of its stores to order their turkey early before Christmas.

"With TV and more traditional marketing channels, the lead times are very long," said Mark Cody, the mobile marketing manager at Tesco. "The point with mobile is that if you're smart with how you do it, you can turn it on and off when you want to."

However, while the commercial possibilities of sending targeted communications are causing excitement among marketers, brands have been advised that they need to be very careful not to alienate customers.

Daniel Rosen, chief executive of mobile agency Joule, warned: "We are at a crossroads where if this type of technology is abused or is too sales specific, it will turn consumers off."

His comments would seem to reinforce a recent survey from the IT Risk/Reward Barometer that found 47% of UK consumers would not like to be greeted by name by a shop assistant who was unknown to them.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff