Archive | April, 2012

Connected TV Provides Opportunities For Location-Based Marketing

24 Apr

While connected TVs aren’t in every living room yet, the rise of ‘second screen’ applications and platforms means that watching TV is certainly a lot more interactive than it used to be. In fact, a recent Nielson study showed that 88 percent of tablet owners and 86 percent of smartphone users in the U.S. use their devices while watching TV at least once a month.

Companies have been cropping up to take advantage of connected TV trends at an increasing rate – from broadcaster analytics tools, to second screen platforms, to interactive apps that allow viewers to interact with what they see on the screen in real-time. Perhaps seen a different way, this is also location-based marketing, if the living room is the location and a TV and smartphone are the mediums.

Social platforms can extend and enhance TV shows, much in the same way that reader’s comments do for news articles. The background noise can enhance the experience for viewers, and broadcasters can use it to more accurately measure the effectiveness of their shows. What’s changing is the ability for brands to use the knowledge of a viewer’s location, time of day, and other demographic data, to create a mobile response to what is seen on TV, triggering a call to action that drives traffic to websites or physical retail locations.

One example of this was from this past Super Bowl, where one-third of all the ads were connected to the mobile app Shazam.  When the Shazam-enabled TV commercials aired during the broadcast, the app responded by displaying a mobile ad and a location-based offer with directions to the closest retailer for redemption.  Brands that participated in the Super Bowl campaign included Toyota, H&M and Pepsi and Bud Light. Shazam has also worked with the GRAMMY Awards, and just recently announced a relationship with American Idol.

Austin-based 44 Doors has been using QR codes in television, even though their effectiveness and adoption has been questioned. In December 2011 a Christmas movie with Billy Ray Cyrus, which was produced by the Hallmark Channel, gave viewers a multimedia link with QR codes. Anyone who scanned the code could download free music and videos. The BBC was one of first broadcasting companies experimenting with using QR codes on their shows; they began adding them to cooking shows giving viewers a chance to find recipes.

“In this context, the television screen is simply a location-based touch point that a viewer can interact with. QR codes allow for seamless access to content without the burden of typing a URL while leveraging the ubiquity of mobile web use on smartphones,” said Tim Hayden, Chief Marketing Officer at 44Doors, in an interview.

“While watching television, viewers may see an advertisement or, as in this case, in-program content that they want to access in the moment or view later. Enabling viewers to access content at the very minute they want or need it may help drive program viewership volume, loyalty or instantaneous purchase activity, while providing a network or advertiser valuable insights around location, timing and specific demographic behaviors.”

There’s no question that there will continue to be integration between TVs and second screens, and consumer adoption of second screen platforms and connected TV apps like yap.TV will likely only increase. Broadcasters can look at this trend as a new frontier for location-based marketing, one that goes beyond the commercial and often has much more measurable results.

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How Digital Merchant Marketplaces Are Enabling Hyperlocal Commerce

24 Apr

When we think about online marketplaces, the giants in the field (eBay, Amazon and Craigslist) immediately come to mind.  But a new crop of location-based marketplaces is now empowering consumers and small businesses alike to buy and sell products and services from one another in their own backyard.

Chicago seems to breed new players in this space: Windy City upstarts Grabio and Goshi are two prime examples. The idea behind them is simply to create fully mobile and localized applications aimed at transforming the classifieds marketplace.

Goshi allows people to use their mobile phones to post items they are both looking for, as well as items they want to sell. The beauty of this is that each post is tagged with a location to facilitate transactions within the local community. With Goshi, you simply take a picture with your phone, tag it with a location, and share it with world.   It takes the city-based listing style of Craigslist and makes it mobile, pinpointing listings to exact locations around a user’s current radius.  While many of the early use cases are consumer oriented, many SMBs are waking up to the potential as well.

For many merchants lead generation is a top priority and being found via hyperlocal search is becoming equally important. 52% of mobile-local search ads on the xAd network yielded calls to local businesses following the initial click in Q4 2011.

Through their location-based mobile commerce platform, Grabio helps local businesses and brands bring foot traffic to their brick-and-mortar stores at no cost. The platform enables consumers to discover all the great deals that local businesses are offering around them, saving time and money. You can even pay through the app and the pick up your order at the store just down the street.

Horatiu Boeriu, Grabio’s CEO, says the company is soon launching Best Buy-powered listings onto their location-based mobile commerce platform that will give users access to local deals at stores across the country: “We also have a tickets listings partnership with SeatQuest.com to provide tickets at sports events in the U.S. Other partnerships include college marketplaces, like Unibubble.co.uk, that work together with us to provide a location-based mobile marketplace at several universities in the U.K.”

It not just retail, real estate startups like Zillow and Trulia have applied a similar theory specifically to real estate listings. Both companies’ apps allow users to instantly browse properties nearby. Trulia, which has an app that focuses specifically on properties for rent or for sale, recently noted that the percentage of its online visitors who also used its mobile app was as high as 46% in some cities.

Craigslist and eBay have done a great job, but they have operated pretty much unchallenged for a decade. Now we have this intersection of location-based services and mobile, and the timing is right for merchants to embrace this technology to reach new audiences and ultimately increase profits.

Bringing Augmented Reality Marketing to Every Business

17 Apr

As a marketer, have you ever thought that your kismet is lying on the superimposed lines of any Sunday afternoon NFL football game? Probably not (especially if you’re not a sports fan). Well, these first-down lines, not only, provide a more accurate spatial orientation of games for home viewers but they are also the foundation of Augmented Reality (AR). To elaborate, AR directly takes physical real world images, modifies them using computer generated software and creates a whole new world. AR adds elements to the participant’s ordinary life to enhance their experience through means of enjoyment, intrigue and, recently, convenience.

For years, marketing and advertising agencies have strained themselves trying to isolate the most effective, meaningful and lasting image to sell their product. Now, brands are able to visually and audibly foster experiences which consumers can be a part of. AR is still in infancy, and it seems that there are no limitations to the communication potential it embodies.

Whether it’s an experience like walking around and experiencing the battle of Gettysburg while your actually standing on the former battleground, or in a Happy 90th Birthday, Grandma! giftcard, AR has already showcased services, goods and entertainment, which allow us to see reality as bigger, cooler and more fake.

Services
By employing GPS software in mobile devices, companies are able to target exact locations to specify their message to that geographic region.

eBay Classified and Valpak: These companies have  both partnered with AR platform Junaio to launch an app that displays all nearby classified ads or coupons. The app allows you to filter the listings with keywords to avoid clutter in busy areas. The ads/coupons appear on your screen as you change your phone’s direction, and, in the case of eBay, take it one step further to dial the number posted to set up an appointment. Something as daunting as apartment hunting can be made simple with this app — all you do is hold your phone to the building of your dreams and perhaps you’ll soon be on your way toward signing a lease.

Wikitude World Browser: This app scans your surroundings using the camera and GPS sensors in your mobile device to provide all points of interest nearby and tags them on your screen for easy navigation. The app goes one step further to provide you with the Wikipedia information you need to know about those locations.

Goods
Product advertisements are becoming invisible to consumers as they are blocked by clutter. By experimenting with AR, brands are able to bring their product to the consumer and allow them to sample the product in their own space.

Ray-Ban Virtual Mirror: Ray-Ban collaborated with FittingBox to develop the technology behind the virtual mirror. They use landmarks like nose, ears and eyes to place the products in real time. This takes online shopping to a new level allowing customers to virtually try the product on before deciding to purchase it. Another great opportunity to determine if the black Wayfarers are too Risky Business with your hair cut.

Hallmark Gift Cards: Nothing says ‘cheesy’ like a Hallmark gift card. But Hallmark is making the recipients of their gift cards say ‘cheese’ by bringing their cards to life through AR.  After the purchase of a gift card, the recipient can log on to the website display the card on webcam and become part of the animated party. This adds an interactive element to gift cards that has never been seen before. Hallmark identified that most people enjoy a party, especially those receiving condolences cards, so they are hosting one and invited everyone to it through AR.

Entertainment
Companies have been using forms of AR for years now to make games and simulations feel more realistic. Previously, they have brought the users into their games, but now they are incorporating games into real life.

Disney MotionBeam: The MotionBeam project is developing new character interaction through projection controlled by gesturing of hand held devices. The projections can be applied by linking them to physical attributes in the environment that become part of the game. Although this project is still in the works, Disney has identified that they would like to incorporate this projector into cell phones to turn the real world into a playground.

Virtual Retail
A good example of this is New York based Goldrun.  The company has worked with Airwalk, H&M and NBC to create virtual stores or experiences inside of stores that create experiences that truly engage consumers and ultimately lead to product purchase.

Consider their work with H&M, where you walk about to the typical storefront window and see the regular display with the naked eye, but a different display in augmented space through your smartphone.  Perhaps there is a product visible that you can claim through the app.  But maybe that product is a special SKU, only available to app users.  This could be a great way to differentiate your brand, create exclusivity and demonstrate innovation.

Marketers will be experimenting more and more with AR as consumers increasingly begin to adopt this new technology. As AR adds a digital overlay to real world experiences in places around the world, it can add background information about places like Times Square or Fisherman’s Wharf, or give customer reviews on products during shopping trips through Wal-Mart, or even act as a distraction from a boring keynote speaker. Whatever its uses will be, AR has the ability to change the world as we see it — and for marketers, that new vision is an opportunity.

In-Store Digital Signs Connect Businesses With Customers Via LBS

10 Apr

Much of the focus around location-based services early on has been in the form of mobile applications like Foursquare and Twitter, but there is a new opportunity emerging for businesses to connect the mobile experience to digital signage and other marketing mediums as well.

One example of this is from ScreenScape, a Canadian company that has built a Foursquare widget into their digital signage content delivery system.

For Foursquare venues, the system can be used to display up-to-the-moment status reports: who is the mayor, what are the Foursquare specials, who is here now, total check-ins, and more. It takes the window-cling up a notch.  And in a Minority Report-like way, consumers who check-in can see themselves recognized as “present” in venue on screens in the business.

One business that is using the system is Tasti D-Lite.  The frozen yogurt chain not only displays Foursquare users, but has also integrated the check-in with their loyalty card program.

Another example is Bailey’s Taproom in Portland, Ore.  A local customer and .Net programmer developed a digital menu board unlike anything else I’ve seen (left). The board displays brewery and beer name, beer style and color, brewery location and even the approximate level of beer remaining in the keg. The menu will also let you know which of your Foursquare friends have checked in while you’re there and sends out a tweet as soon as they put a new beer on so you always know what’s on.

These two examples simply point to the fact that location-based marketing is about more than just mobile. At the LBMA, we like to talk about this as the intersection of people, places and media – regardless of the place or the medium. I suspect we will see much more of this type of integrated messaging that engages consumers and enables them to connect with the businesses they frequent.

Social Travel Apps Use Foursquare, Facebook Data to Tell You Where to Go

3 Apr

For many professionals – myself included — business conferences have become a routine part of the working schedule. With these conferences often comes travel to random cities, and perhaps even a day or two off to explore if you’re lucky. When you’re on unfamiliar territory, however, trying to plan a day trip often becomes a nightmare. This exact problem is what led to the new location-based app Gogobot, created by Travis Kantz. While working internationally, Kantz and his wife would spend days trying to plan traveling expeditions throughout Europe, having difficulty determining which information on travel websites was current or trustworthy. With that in mind, he decided to solve this problem by offering a travel companion that compiles the information that matters to you most.

Essentially, Gogobot acts as a travel guide that forms its reviews based on input from people within your social circle. Initially launched as a website, Gogobot lets users connect through Facebook or Twitter accounts and then view all the various places their friends have checked in to via Foursquare or written a review for. Gogobot utilizes your personal network to create a list of the top places in each city, letting you see how your friends have rated and reviewed various places. If there are no reviews available within your network, top places are then sorted by popularity amongst Gogobot users. Users can also see recommendations from those with similar interests while viewing an array of pictures for places like hotels, restaurants, and attractions.

After a high demand for a mobile app upgrade that allowed on-the-go trip planning, Gogobot launched a major upgrade at the beginning of March, turning the iPhone app into a resourceful and efficient travel planner. With the new mobile app, users are now able to pick and choose which places fit best into their travel schedule and plan their whole trip at their fingertips. Once they begin forming their travel plan, users can instantly access maps and directions, phone numbers and hours of operations, as well as place reservations at restaurants and book hotels — all through the app. Users also have the opportunity to write reviews based on places they have checked in to and add their own photos — which they can transform into custom travel postcards with the app’s photo-editing features. By submitting content, they also are able to unlock badges and achievements.

In a similar vein, last week saw the public beta launch of a new start-up that allows users to explore destinations, plan trips, and get travel recommendations from friends — Tripbirds. I know what you’re thinking right now. Social travel? My heart’s been broken too many times. I don’t know if I can commit. But here’s the thing: many smartphone users are already collecting good bars, restaurants, and photos of tourist sites on their travels through location-based services, which is useful for sharing with friends. Unlike other social travel startups that require you to create new content, Stockholm-based Tripbirds builds off of many people’s current habits.

According to founder Ted Valentin “What makes us different is that we’re building Tripbirds on top of existing services as a travel layer — on top of Facebook and Foursquare and Instagram, and even more services in the future.” 
Tripbirds then allows users to pack all this location-based information from across the web into trips where you can see all your friends location tagged photos and check-ins. The premise is fairly simple, and is executed well enough to make travel recommendations an easy favor and not a chore.

While I like the intention of Tripbirds and see the value of the “trust graph,” a service like this is always dependent on getting enough of my friends on board. Perhaps this is what Gowalla should have been or perhaps it will see the same fate? In the end, I don’t think it succeeds without the support of a mainstream travel player like Fodors.