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date: 18 April 2021

Location-Based Ads and Exposure to Health and Risk Messageslocked

  • Jonathan van 't Riet, Jonathan van 't RietDepartment of Communication & Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University
  • Jorinde Spook, Jorinde SpookStrategic Communication, Wageningen University & Research
  • Paul E. KetelaarPaul E. KetelaarDepartment of Communication & Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University
  •  and Arief HühnArief HühnDepartment of Industrial Design, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven


Many of us use smartphones, and many smartphones are equipped with the Global Positioning System (GPS). This enables health promoters to send us messages on specific locations where healthy behavior is possible or where we are at risk of unhealthy behavior. Until now, the practice of sending location-based messages has been mostly restricted to commercial advertisements, most often in retail settings. However, opportunities for health promotion practice are vast. For one, location-based messages can be used to complement environmental interventions, where the environment is changed to promote health behavior. Second, location-based messages incorporate opportunities to tailor these messages to individual characteristics of the recipient, increasing perceived relevance. Finally, location-based messages offer the distinct possibility to communicate context-dependent social norm information. Five preliminary studies tested the effects of location-based messages targeting food choice. The results suggest that sending location-based messages is feasible and can be effective. Future studies should explore which messages are most effective under which circumstances.

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