Archive | February, 2012

Sharing Location For a Humanitarian Cause

24 Feb



In time of war and economic downturn, many turn to charities and the general public for help. But how can you find the help you need in today’s modern mobile world? Hyperlocal, of course!

The Middle East has, undoubtedly, seen some changes in the past few months. One of the most noticeable changes is engagement with local civil services to help the underprivileged, the needy, and to synergize contributors’ efforts. Combine that with growing Internet penetration rates, and what technology has to offer, and the opportunities are unlimited. Wasm Media is one company that’s taking action in this climate, with a brand new mobile application named “Nasy” — My People.

Nasy is a free iOS application, available in both English and Arabic, that matches volunteers with projects in their vicinity where they can donate free time and collaborate with socially-engaged initiatives. The service enables you to create projects looking for help or to designate yourself a Volunteer seeking a project to work on.  All of it is location-based, enabling you to connect with those nearby.

Another great example of this is Ushahidi, Inc., a non-profit software company that develops free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping.

Ushahidi (Swahili for “testimony” or “witness”) created a website in the aftermath of Kenya’s disputed 2007 presidential election that collected eyewitness reports of violence sent in by email and text-message and placed them on a Google Map. The features have now been used as well in the Middle East, Haiti and in the US electoral process.

The organization uses the concept of crowdsourcing for social activism and public accountability, serving as an initial model for what has been coined as ‘activist mapping’ – the combination of social activism, citizen journalism and geospatial information. Ushahidi offers products that enable local observers to submit reports using their mobile phones or the internet, while simultaneously creating a temporal and geospatial archive of events.

Whether you’re simply seeking to get the vote out, find local workers, or struggling to share the news of a crisis from on the ground to the rest of the world, location-based services can help.


Venuelabs Helps 100K Storefronts See Local Blind Spots

22 Feb

Shoppers carry their purchases during the Black Friday sales at a shopping mall in Tysons Corner

Seattle-based Venuelabs has just announced that it is now tracking over 100,000 storefronts in nine countries. Angel-funded Venuelabs is a location-based analytics and marketing platform that provides retail and storefront brands with storefront analytics and location intelligence. The company launched its platform in February 2011, and has worked with retailers, brands and restaurant chains such as Jaguar, Juice It Up, Chevron, and Little Caesars Pizza to aggregate and report on location-based activity relative to their respective retail footprints.

The company has seen dramatic growth in location-based consumer activity at retail storefronts over the last 12 months, related to the continued penetration of location-aware smartphones and the growth of local consumer services and mobile applications like Foursquare, Facebook Places, Yelp, CitySearch, and UrbanSpoon. Across the more than 100,000 storefronts, Venuelabs has measured over 41 million people talking at storefronts, more than 24 million interactions, over 184,000 distinct sources, and more positive consumer feedback than negative (58 percent vs 42 percent).

Venuelabs founder Neil Crist says the company usually works with brands that have between 400 and 7,000 retail locations, with an average of seven to 10 online pages for each location on services like Yelp and Foursquare. “That’s too many pages to follow for the brand,” Crist said in an interview. The company introduced the VenueRank product in November 2011, when it was already tracking more than 55,000 storefronts. VenueRank assigns a score out of 100 to each of a brand’s retail locations based on their online engagement at a local level. ”The brands we were working with were asking a lot of questions about the relative importance of a check-in, a tip, a Like, a Tweet, or a review, and how to look at these things in a unified way and measure that,” he said about the motivation behind VenueRank. “Retailers, particularly the ones with more than 200 locations, are now starting to rely on VenueRank to understand how their stores compare to each other, and how their stores compare to competitors.”

The location analytics space is hot at the moment, with several new entrants jumping in to fill the apparent void left by the traditional keyword-based brand and social monitoring tools like Radian6, Visible Technologies, and others. Other location analytics providers include Los Angeles-based Momentfeed, New York-based LocalResponse and Vancouver-based Geotoko, which was recently acquired by HootSuite.

The keyword-based solutions fall short for retailers because local storefront activity, content and sentiment is not captured or analyzed. This local blind spot is the most critical to monitor and analyze, because it represents customers in store, at the point of purchase. When companies monitor the more mainstream social media channels of Facebook and Twitter alone they miss key opportunities to connect “fans” to physical locations.  Monitoring online conversations as they relate to physical locations will become increasingly important for brick-and-mortar stores trying to connect with a new base of customers.

Shazam-ing the Super Bowl and the Marketing Value of Audio Tagging

15 Feb



Location-based marketing isn’t limited to mobile — it’s about how media is integrated into our lives no matter where we are. Nearly 50% of smartphone owners use their mobile device to search for product information after seeing a TV ad, according to a new study from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Nielsen Fast Nationals has revealed that the 46th annual NFL championship game was the most-watched television broadcast in U.S. history, pulling in 111.3 million viewers — up from last year’s 111 million — and mobile marketing was key during the broadcast.


Shazam’s Super Bowl Success
Mobile audio-tagging app Shazam debuted an interactive new campaign during the game via a commercial and half-time performance involvement, and in doing so it allowed a new form of engagement that Super Bowl viewers have never before experienced.

Shazam’s main function is in music tagging — it allows users to hold up their phone when they hear an unfamiliar song and provides them with the track information. This idea was extended to the Super Bowl half time performances, allowing users to tag the music being performed, enabling access to exclusive content as well as links to the artists’ Twitter and Facebook pages.

However, the app extended beyond the musical realm as well, offering exclusive discounts and entry into sweepstakes for audience involvement. Nearly half of the commercials seen during the Super Bowl were Shazam-enabled, encouraging viewers to tag the ad to gain access to these special offers. Companies such as Toyota, Best Buy, Bud Light, Pepsi, and Teleflora offered prizes through the service, ranging from a new car to gift cards and free music videos.

Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher said the company’s expectations for this consumer interaction were exceeded, with millions of users participating.

Television and Mobile Crossover
The idea of audio tagging isn’t exclusive to Shazam. Yahoo app IntoNow has also created a unique viewing experience allowing for television-to-mobile engagement. With the IntoNow app, users simply activate the microphone when watching a television program, and the app will then identify the show as well as any news headlines related to it. Users can also receive cast information and future airing dates, as well as what programs their friends are watching. This app provides more than basic television knowledge however, as it recently ran a contest for Jersey Shore fans by having them tag the show in real time to win a chance to party with cast member Snooki. Advertisers have also noticed the benefits of audio tagging, as Pepsi partnered with the app to provide viewers with a mobile coupon for a free drink if they tagged a Pepsi ad.

Consumers are becoming increasingly attached to their smartphones, and audio tagging capitalizes upon this attachment by offering new possibilities and opportunities when users connect their televisions to their smartphones. Shazam’s Super Bowl (and Grammys) involvement marks the beginning of a new form of marketing, and if the app’s success is any indication of audio tagging’s future, it seems to be headed in the right direction.

Location-Based Gaming for Fun — And Profit

7 Feb

Hide and seek, I-Spy, Marco Polo and capture the flag were all popular real-life location-based games that you may remember enjoying as a child. These  games allowed us to use our imaginations and be interactive with others, as well as with the places around us. With the rise of mobile, games are being created that are once again place-based, but in a totally new way that encourages people to engage in real world interaction — and brings real opportunity for businesses and, more specifically, marketing.

Most location-based apps have some kind of gaming element to them, including the most popular ones like Foursquare which rewards points, badges and mayorships to users for checking in.  Many location-based games work by directing players to certain areas of a city or place to take a picture, record a video or perform an action. These are then uploaded to the game platform in order compete with other players.

Businesses can take advantage of this kind of gaming by participating, which in turn  can draw in new and existing customers in an engaging and entertaining way. SCVNGR is a great example of this. Each location within the game has a set list of options and associated points such as checking in, taking a picture, commenting etc. SCVNGR also gives location/business owners the opportunity to create their own challenges and associated points. So, for example, a local coffee shop could challenge players to take a photo sitting in a certain seat or drinking a certain beverage for extra points — a great marketing tool! SCVNGR also works with a user’s social networks so that progress/accomplishments can instantly be posted to a players Facebook/Twitter page; this is added bonus for businesses that then gain additional exposure (since other players of the game are encouraged to visit in order to make their mark on the leaderboard).

Some other great location-based games include I Spy – a little bit of a twist on the classic road trip game that encourages players to take pictures of the items they “spy” from a list the game provides. This includes road signs, animals, flags and much more. Family members or friends can even compete with one another if they have the app. Bounty Island is also worth checking out. The game utilizes real world locations to generate “island” puzzles that contain treasures for players to find. The more places a player explores, the more new maps and rewards they will find.  Even the wildly popular Angry Birds has begun to introduce location=based elements, allowing the option for players to compete with one another on a unique leader board tied to location.

Finally, if you want to take your gaming to more of a world/neighborhood domination mindset, unlocking your natural criminal tendencies, you should check out Please Stay Calm (location-based zombie survival game) or Life is Crime — both are about going around your city and battling others to control physical properties.