Location-Aware Games Are Engaging Consumers — And Marketers

7 Aug

According to a new research by businessdegree.net, more than $12 billion was generated by mobile gaming in 2011 with 34% of the top grossing apps in the app store leveraging a freemium model.  Once someone is hooked, they’ll continue to spend a few dollars to continue to enhance their play. On average freemium games make $12.92 a month per user. This type of behavior is what is making the business of games so profitable.

Now marketers are jumping on board by advertising with the big players. Rovio‘s Angry Birds makes $6 million per month from ads alone. The next step could be more brands teaming up with game developers to create popular mobile games. Not only could it make a tidy profit, but it will get more eyes on its product.

Not long ago, Rovio added location-based integration to enhance game play for users when they visit real-world locations. The feature, called Magic Places, builds off a previously announced near-field-communication feature for certain Nokia phones, allowing a very limited number of users to unlock additional levels when they tap two NFC phones together or tap an NFC tag at a location.

With Magic Places, when users arrive at a location with GPS-enabled smartphones, they are able to trigger new content such as Mighty Eagle, the most powerful character in the game, as well as a raft of never-before-released game content.Users are then further able to compete with other players on a localized leaderboard for each venue. Stepping back, Rovio is looking to turn Magic into a broad platform that will be built into all of its products, spurring real world interactivity through NFC, GPS, and other technologies.

In a recent interview, a product manager for Angry Birds Magic, Ramine Darabiha, said “the idea for Magic Places is to build more fun into the game, turning what is often an activity played in isolation into something you do in the real world. He said Rovio is not interested in turning every location into a “Magic” venue, but is looking to use the location option selectively to enhance game play for users. The key is to find places that complement the game and make the experience more memorable for users.

One retail brand already taking advantage of Magic Places is Barnes and Noble.  Last summer the company announced that you could take your Nook Color into a physical Barnes & Noble store and use the Mighty Eagle for free to clear levels in Angry Birds. The Angry Birds Nook app costs $2.99, but there is no cost for using the Mighty Eagle in stores.

This kind of partnership can become a great method for retailers to drive additional foot traffic and sales, while at the same time helping gaming companies that rely on in-app purchases to grow their revenues through retailer subsidy.

Two weeks ago, the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles got into the game by also partnering with Rovio. The Wall Street Journal reported that an Eagles-themed spinoff of the game is in the works, and that we can also expect to see many of the game’s explosive birds appearing on the scoreboards at Lincoln Financial Field after Philadelphia sacks, touchdowns and the like.

And even Starbucks customers playing Angry Birds on their smartphones could soon get access to free content and see their high scores reflected on an electronic leader board, if a reported partnership comes through in the next couple of months.

Starbucks has ramped up its in-store digital offerings recently, looking to make use of its WiFi network and customers’ increasing use of digital devices. The coffee retailer has long offered a free song download with a beverage purchase, but recently has started to offer free apps, book excerpts and maybe even TV shows and mobile games.

The concept however, isn’t limited to Rovio and just big brand retailers.  A new startup called Kiip recognizes that people hate ads but like free stuff. It’s a concept that has fuelled enough growth that it now requires a digital wallet for users to keep track of all the offers on the network

Essentially, Kiip says that when you perform well in mobile game or app, you can be rewarded with a free coffee or a music download or whatever makes sense.  Best of all Kiip doesn’t build their own games or apps; they simply layer their platform on top of others, helping to monetize them.

Apps like MapMyRun, HomeRun, and MegaJump have already started using it.  This means that any developer and any brand (big or small) can get on board with mobile gaming and rewards that drive business.

It’s clear that the relationship between the worlds of mobile gaming and bricks and motor retail is just beginning — but what a fun and exciting way to engage new customers in the things they’re already doing!

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LBS Marketing Spotlight: Golf Courses

31 Jul

 

It wasn’t that long ago that a mobile phone on the golf course would be frowned upon, but it appears that the days of “phone free” greens might soon be over.

Golfers’ cries for gadgets are making headway — and they offer a built-in opportunity for course owner/operators to make mobile and location-based services an integral part of their marketing mix. An LBS approach can help to increase loyalty, engage more golfers and appeal to their love of the game by connecting with them and the tools their already using.

We’re already seeing a loosening of restrictions around mobile phone usage that will pave the way for marketing opportunities. This past week, the British heads of The Open Championship lifted a ban on mobile phone usage, freeing up the use of cell phones at the tournament for the first time in six years. The ban was originally issued because players found the obnoxious ringtones of fans’ cell phones distracting, and ultimately damaging to their performance. This will lead to much wider use of phones at major tournaments and on the everyday courses as well — and golf marketers must be ready.

So what’s the game plan?

The club opportunity
There are many ways to leverage the power of mobile to engage golfers and fans alike. Here are just a few:

– Request a tee time
– Book a special event
– Click to call for directions
– Engage in push notifications (group text messages)
– Order food & beverage before you finish a round
– View course maps(s) & rates
– Find courses nearby
– Take advantage of special promotions/discounts
– Follow your club on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube
– View membership opportunities

At the very least, if you operate a club you should claim your business on Foursquare and/or Facebook places. Chances are that folks are already checking-in there and you can use this information to get a better understanding of your customers’ behavior and what motivates them.

Retailer’s Perspective
Specialty retailer Golfsmith that is using mobile cloud technology from Moovweb to run its experimental mobile website and iPhone app. Golfsmith’s desktop website features premier branded golf merchandise, as well as its proprietary products, promoted with marketing techniques, including HD video, faceted search, daily deals and media-rich landing pages.

According to Jamey Maki, director of e-commerce & online experience, “With over 20 percent of our Web traffic now coming from mobile, our mobile e-commerce strategy is rapidly evolving, and the need for high-end, interactive mobile retail experiences among our discriminating customers had outgrown our existing infrastructure.”

Don’t Forget the Sponsors
Last month, Travelers Insurance struck an advertising deal with The Weather Channel to home in on the 250,000-some people expected to be in attendance at the Travelers Championship. Consumers in the Cromwell, Conn., area were greeted by Travelers’ trademark red umbrella logo and were targeted based on either the zip code they’ve registered on their phone or, in the case of iPhone and Android users, by the GPS coordinates accessed through the app on their devices.

With geo-location information increasing available, the ability to find new customers and sponsors has never been easier. The time to tee off on mobile is now.

How Marketers Can Connect With Moms on a Hyperlocal Level

10 Jul

Moms have embraced mobile — email, apps, SMS, voice, and the mobile web — in a big way. This isn’t a burgeoning trend. It’s the reality right now.

Recently BabyCenter surveyed over 5,000 mothers for their Mobile Mom Report, and found that moms are 18 percent more likely than the general public to have a smartphone. And they are using them all day, every day. From researching family health questions to scheduling and documenting her kids’ lives to diffusing her child’s meltdown in the checkout line, mom’s smartphone is her constant companion. It helps her save time and money, and it plays into her sense of humor.

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The RedRover App is a private social networking website and application where you share events and whereabouts with your real friends in real time. Founder Kathryn Tucker says, “Brands are very important to RedRover. Of all demographics, moms understand best the reciprocal relationship they have with the brands they trust and rely on to provide goods and services to their families. They want to hear from their favorite brands. But the ad model, as we know it’s broken. It feels false and manipulative and is more often than not ineffectual. Can’t something better exist? There’s an incredible opportunity right now to initiate a more interactive, genuine form of communication between brands and consumers. A channel that is playful and useful, one where both sides can feel good about the exchange.”

On the new RedRover platform, which launches in September, brands will have a unique new channel through which to speak to moms, and importantly, to hear back from them. RedRover, in essence, is a publishing medium through which anyone hosting a time-based event — whether it be an institution with a great, kid-friendly activity or a brand — is able to reach moms that want to hear from them. It’s mobile, friendly and solves “What should I do with my kids today?” as well as “I am in this location at this time, what information is useful to me here?”

For brands, it would appear that mobile is the way to a busy mom’s heart: usage of mobile for product/brand recommendations nearly doubled in 2011 to 33 percent. With moms relying on smartphones more than ever before, brands may want to think about upping their mobile targeting ad campaigns to reach moms directly at the point of purchase through apps like RedRover.

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Another great app for parents is Hashtag Mom. It’s ten o’clock, do you know where your kids are? Moms who use the “Hashtag Mom” app do. While it’s not yet a branded app, HashtagMom is one those great tools that solves an obvious problem — how does a mom check in on her kids when they’re not quite old enough to fly solo, but a few years past needing mom for every social outing? In fact, the app is so simple and straightforward that it begs the question — why didn’t a mom-focused brand think of it first? After all, had a brand built “Hashtag Mom,” the app could have scored them a free media bonanza on sites like TechCrunch, MSN, and CNET, to name just a few.

Here’s how the app works. Using Foursquare’s location-based service, the app allows kids to check-in anywhere with the message “#mom.” After that, mom gets either a call or text to let her know that her child is safe.

Any app that helps moms and their teenage kids avoid scenes has got to be indispensible. And for brand marketers looking to use mobile to connect with moms, this relatively simple, straightforward app is a case study in utility.

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One brand, Bravado, which makes nursing bras, launched their own mobile app that helps moms find locations that are friendly for breastfeeding. In fact, it’s a perfect example of an app being totally on brand. But three things really set “Your Breastfeeding-Friendly Locator” apart and make it a hit with moms.

First, the app serves an obvious need. Finding places to breastfeed isn’t easy. And the difficulty of breastfeeding while away from home is something a lot of moms talk about, even though few brands take the time to listen. That’s where Bravado won big with this app. They listened to an ongoing conversation moms have been having for a while, and then the brand took specific action to address a common concern: Where can you easily breast-feed while outside of the home?

Second, the app’s content is driven by moms, for moms. Locations are selected and rated by the user community, which also has the ability to share tips and reviews on some of their favorite finds. Crowdsourcing makes the information highly useful, but it also gives moms a sense of the wider Bravado community, which in turn fosters a deeper connection to the brand.

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Today is the mobile inflection point, especially for mom. She’s already out there — smartphone in hand — staying in-the-know, scanning barcodes, checking in, sharing news and information with friends. Brands that can give mom superpowers through useful, context-savvy, fun mobile tools will find their own value soaring. Mobile ensures brands never miss a mom, location ensures she can get what she needs in the shortest possible distance.

Are QR Codes Here to Stay?

3 Jul

QR codes play an increasingly important role in the B2C marketing world. According to one 2012 study from Chief Marketer, marketing use of QR code and barcode scans grew to 68% of the firms surveyed — up 15% from last year. That makes it the top mobile marketing tactic.

Another study from The Temkin Group, found that 24% of U.S. consumers use QR codes. The coded images are extremely popular among a younger demographic who readily embrace mobile technology.

QR Codes Do What Very Few Other Technologies Can Do
They create a flexible, easy to use interface between print/physical and online content. Whether you’re talking about print ads, business cards, trade show content or direct mail, QR codes make it easy to move your customers from print to online — and thus into your marketing automation environment.

From a hyperlocal perspective, QR codes can be a powerful tool too. It’s important to consider them as an engagement vehicle to drive traffic to your local destination, whatever that may be. Local store, local event, doctor’s office or coffee shop — they can be leveraged to increase footfall and ultimately revenue.

Brands Are Embracing the Technology
Retail clothing chain Express is putting mobile in the center of its direct mail strategy, with a new initiative that lets consumers shop featured looks using QR codes and SMS.

Over the last few weeks, mailers were sent out as part of a campaign running through June 29 that promotes Express’ line of denim. The Express mobile bar codes appear on the back side of the six-page mailers in the bottom left-hand corner with an SMS call-to-action below. Users who scan the QR code are taken to a campaign-specific page on Express’ mobile site that showcases 12 pairs of jeans for men and women.

Another brand, Guinness, wanted to get more people talking about the brand, so they gave local bars some new pint glasses. At first glance, the glasses looked like a regular pints- but bartenders and patrons learned that when they were filled with a Guinness, the glasses were actually printed with a QR code. Created by BBDO NY, the QR code could only be scanned when a Guinness was in the pint glass; regular beer didn’t create enough contrast, and when nothing was in the glass, the QR code just looked like a creatively etched design on the side of the cup. When bar-goers scanned the QR code with their smartphones, the app shared the news to friends that they were enjoying a Guinness via twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, and Instagram updates.

Scanning the QR code even sent out the bar-goers’ locations — with the hope being that friends who saw the updates would join their pals at the bar for more Guinness drinking.

Get Creative in Your Application
Whether you are a big brand like Guinness or a small business, QR codes can be a great way to communicate information in a simple, cost effective manner.

Here are some quick ideas on other potential uses:

▪ Show them a video of your product or service in action. Visuals like this are perfect for smartphones.

▪ Show a customer testimonial or a 30 second collage of customer testimonials. Social proof in action!

▪ Link them to a digital version of your brochure

▪ Place QR stickers on your printed brochures that were created before you found out about QR codes

▪ Place them on the back of envelopes you send to your best customers, when they scan it, it’s a personal thank you message from you

It’s clear that QR codes are relevant and useful, however, there is a potential pitfall that must be considered — QR landing pages that deliver disconnected and/or dead-end content. Remember that a QR code landing page isn’t a destination. It’s a front door. Make sure your customers can open it and that it leads to somewhere interesting.

How Push Notifications on Mobile Are Changing Hyperlocal

26 Jun

When you think about mobile today, its hard not to think about a time when your phone buzzes and you look down and see a text message that informs you that you are roaming and should buy an additional data plan or that there is a great deal nearby. Push notifications have come a long way in the last 24 months.

As businesses and brands we can no longer ignore the potential available to us to reach large audiences via this simple engagement model.

Xtify, a leader in this space announced last week that its platform recorded over 1 billion monthly location updates for the first time in May. Xtify’s push notifications are used by leading brands to engage their mobile audience, influence customer engagement, and drive purchase activity. Xtify’s platform works worldwide for native iOS, Android and BlackBerry smartphone and tablet applications as well as apps developed with Adobe’s PhoneGap platform.

Perhaps more intriguing is that their data suggests that smart notifications sent using Xtify’s real-time location-triggering technology have demonstrated sustained action rates 3 times that of non-geo triggered messages. This indicates that a location-specific alert is much more effective in reaching an audience that can be influenced to drive traffic to your intended destination.

According to CNET, Apple has added push notification-support for Government alerts (“AMBER Alerts” and “Emergency Alerts”) in iOS 6. As you can see in the associated image, two new toggles — one for “AMBER Alerts,” and another for “Emergency Alerts” — have appeared in the “Notifications” section of the built-in Settings app in iOS 6. Users have the option of enabling what they presume to be push notifications for these two alert-types, meaning that in the event of an emergency, users would receive a notification on their iDevice.

There are many subtleties to the push notification conversation. How, when and why to deploy push notifications depends, on the type of app (a news app, social app or game, for instance) but also on the type of platform they are being pushed from. Android, iOS and Windows Phone all handle push differently and that can be a source of frustration for developers.

The consensus among many developers is that the way push works on Android is the most preferable in terms of user experience. For instance, if an app sends 20 push notifications to an Android smartphone, only the most recent notification will show in the users’ message tray.

Whereas in iOS notifications almost always arrive in real time and are gathered in a drop-down notification tray that was released with iOS 5.0. iOS notifications are also the most intrusive. Unlike Android, all notifications are shown in the tray, and they tend to build on top of each other.

Apps like those from The Weather Channel and Words With Friends have shown that push notifications can be very effective . If there is severe weather, like a large tornado coming my way, you best believe I want a timely push notification. The Weather Channel is parsimonious about how it sends notifications, usually only pushing news when something dramatic is about to happen. Words With Friends is the best example of a game using push to tell a player when it is their turn. It is one of the features that makes the game so addictive.

Coming at it from another angle, we have all seen in-app ads in several shapes and sizes and in all of their screen hogging glory. Enter Airpush, which has introduced their own style of push notification advertising, a new method to deliver ads that will supposedly increase click-through rates (CTR) up to 40 percent without interrupting the users’ in-app experience. This type of ad service offers a platform that utilizes the drop-down notification window of your Android device to deliver ads. Put another way, instead of serving an in the app, they push an ad into the notification tray, which is always on.  No need to make sure you’ve launched the app

It remains to be seen whether this is simply over the top and will be construed as spam by consumers, but smart businesses should no doubt be testing this type of advertising now.

Since consumers likely have their phones with them at all times, sending a push notification to alert consumers of an app update or sale opportunity can serve to drive the brand to the forefront of consumers’ minds. In addition, brands can take advantage of location-based technology to interact with consumers if they are in a certain area or if they enter a store.

One such brand, Saks Fifth Avenue sends push notifications to consumers who have downloaded its app. The brand’s messages span everything from available products to in-store events.

Local Payments for Local Merchants

18 Jun

 

Mobile payments platforms are quickly emerging as a viable solution for small businesses seeking to conduct transactions without paying the high fees typically associated with a traditional merchant terminal.

One of the star players in this space is Square which has been used by a variety of individuals and businesses, from charities to taxis to food trucks, political campaigns and merchants in farmers markets (just to name a few). This type of service is especially good for any business that typically transacts in cash but would like to accept credits cards without paying huge fees.

As reported a last month, Square is now processing $5 billion in annual payments (or around $416 million in payments per month), which is up from $4 billion in annual payments in March. And payment volume is up 25 percent over the past month. The company also just started making funds available in merchants’ bank accounts the next business morning (for any sales made before 5:00 pm), while other merchant processors can take 2 to 5 business days to get merchants their money.

If you are a T-Mobile customer it’s even easier as they have become the first carrier to offer Square credit card readers to their retail business customers.. Under the company’s new campaign, stores equipped with T-Mobile smartphones.

And yet another sign that the solution is working, just this week iPad electronic health record (EHR) platform provider drchrono announced the integration of Square to its platform, providing a full mobile practice management solution for doctors.  This is ideal for those working on a temporary, freelance basis in medical facilities, and medical professionals who make a lot of house calls.

With Square yet to reveal when or where it might offer its mobile payment service outside of the US, we need to elsewhere to fill the gap in other markets. Sweden’s iZettle, which often gets compared to Square, is now doing just that.  They are by far the dominant player in Europe.  While Square caters to the U.S. market with a swipe-card reader, iZettle providers a chip/pin typer reader, which is the stardard in Europe.

The iZettle service works similar to Square, in that a merchant plugs a card-reading dongle into an iOS device to process a card payment using an app downloaded to the device. Instead of reading the magnetic strip on the back of the card, iZettle reads the chip — these are now near-ubiquitous in Europe and tend to be more secure. Like other card payment services, you sign on the device screen to complete a payment, and the funds are deposited in a merchant account the next day.

Another new entrant in the space is payments veteran PayPal. The company’s PayPal Here card reader and app is already making  waves in the U.S. and was launched simultaneously in several international markets, including Hong Kong, Australia and Canada.

PayPal Here is essentially a free thumb-sized card reader and app from PayPal that turns iPhones into a secure mobile payment system, allowing any business or individual to accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards, as well as PayPal payments on smartphones, anywhere, anytime.

The consumer app also allows you to check-in (ala Foursquare) with a participating merchant close by, making mobile-to-mobile PayPal payments possible in person.

Aside from the consumer convenience, the attraction among merchants is the flat 2.7% transaction fee (compared to Square’s 2.75% in the U.S.), with no annual, monthly or any other sort of fees.

Bottom line is that any local merchant that seeking to reduce credit card processing fees, or that historically only deals in cash and could benefit from that added ability to accept credit cards should consider these solutions.

Fashion Brands Using Online Images to Drive Local Commerce

5 Jun

 

The fashion industry has always been one step ahead of everyone else when it comes to marketing. Having moved seamlessly from Sears catalogs to email blasts to flash sales and mobile geofences, clothing brands know that you need to stay top-of-mind if you’re hoping to get people to pay top dollar for the latest season’s duds.

Major brands have experimented with a wide variety of digital tools to burnish their brand. Gap Stylemixer is building wardrobes, Ralph Lauren is designing customized rugby shirts, and Chanel is showcasing their fashion show — all on apps built for mobile. Meanwhile, location-based apps and social media are starting to filter into digital fashion marketing as well.

For smaller merchants perhaps lessons can be learned from the likes of luxury shoe retailer Bergdorf Goodman.  In September 2011, the brand partnered with Morpheus Media, for its “Shoes About Town” Instagram campaign, which depicted the secret lives of shoes purchased from the luxury retailer.

“Bergdorf Goodman has been using Instagram for quite some time and loves the platform, especially the way the community responds to the retailer’s New York City, fashion-based content,” says Shenan Reed, chief marketing officer at Morpheus Media. “One of the trends that has inspired us most to use APIs is the ability to take existing technologies and build off of them with your own customized spin. … Bergdorf Goodman is very forward thinking in their use of user generated content, especially for a luxury brand. When the time came to celebrate the opening of their new Shoe Salon and their latest Shoe book, Instagram just seemed like a perfect fit. We know the Bergdorf Goodman consumer loves their shoes, and we really wanted to create an interactive program that celebrated the shoe-obsessed.”

The campaign was absolutely charming and addictive for the shoe-obsessed. Photos are submitted through Instagram using the hashtag #BGShoes, and then the image is placed on Bergdorf’s map of Manhattan, depending on the geo-location of the photographer. The map may only represent Manhattan, but the retailer is aggregating content for this campaign from all over the world.

“We definitely wanted it to be a global campaign,” says Reed. “After all, shoe obsession truly knows no bounds. Since there is only one physical store location, the brand holds their NYC roots near and dear to everything they do. Photos taken within Manhattan were placed directly in that location on the map, but any other entries you see scattered around the page are were receive from outside NYC and around the world. The global community and mobile based nature of Instagram was actually part of what made it so compelling.”

In addition to the Instagram API, the campaign to launch Bergdorf’s second floor Shoe Salon included QR codes in print, in store and on store windows driving users to the application. Morpheus Media seeded the content with photos of the latest shoes for their Shoe Book around New York City.

Another example of this is from Toronto-based Shopcastr. The service has been described as a “Pinterest for practical items.” Store owners can feature their products (antiques, art, bikes, fashion, food, and more) for users to “love” and, ultimately, buy in-store. Shopcastr works by having storeowners and users clip or snap photos of compelling products and then upload them to the site. As a result, Shopcastr becomes a kind of Pinterest-style DIY catalogue for retailers, letting stores display their wares in a way that is both novel and easy. A system like this can enable any business, even one without a website to visually share their products and to draw new customers in.  And unlike Pinterest, if you see something you like, you can actually go around the corner and buy it.

Snapette is yet another player in the space.  It’s like the “Foodspotting for fashion” You can snap photos of your favorite bag, top, shoes accessory, pair of jeans or other fashion item, choose your location, comment on where you found the product (i.e. what store), and post this to Snapette. And other users can browse products near their current location or by their favorite store, or brand. You can also see what items are trending globally, or by their specific location. And other users can comment on photos and share tips and recommendations. Each user has a “virtual closet” profile page that collects and showcases photos of items they’ve Snapped, Like and Want, and you can also post your “Snapettes” on Facebook and Tumbler.

All of these platforms demonstrate the power of the picture and can be used by any retailer — big or small — to build awareness around their products and ultimately build both virtual and real customer communities that will result in real revenue. Bottom line: a picture is certainly worth a thousand words — but marry that with social media, location services and smart retailers and you’ve got a powerful platform.

Wielding Hyperlocal Brand Influence

24 May

 

While the concept of steering marketing communications towards a small number of influential networkers isn’t new, the idea of quantifying and using online influence has only truly taken flight recently. As social networks continue to grow rapidly, so has interest in influence. Global companies are realizing the importance of targeting high profile bloggers, journalists and celebrities, and have increasingly sought to reach out to these influencers for word-of-mouth (or “like”) endorsements.

Local is a natural extension of this this idea, as brands increasingly look to target influencers based on their geography.

Klout, which launched in 2008 with the idea of empowering all influencers to benefit from their networks, was in the news last week with the announcement of its own version of brand pages called Brand “Squads.”  Klout calls these pages a “way of giving influencers a place to be recognized and have a direct impact on the brands they care about most.” And while influencers get excited for their potential to be recognized by top brands, social media marketers also have plenty of reasons to be excited for this cool new tool. Klout’s new Brand Squads will showcase the top 10 influencers of that brand. These are the people who most frequently talk about that brand on their own social networks. You also have the ability to see the top 100 influencers.

So what do you do with these people? If you have a list of brand loyalists, you have a list of people who are willing to provide you with feedback about your business — people who genuinely care about your growth because it has an impact on their life. Make them feel like an integral member of your community, and ask them to write reviews, be beta testers on new product rollouts, and refer you to others that might like to use your products or services.  If you can identify these influencers by geography, they can be converted into brand advocates who can potentially drive new customers to your locations.

To help on that front Klout is also releasing a new mobile iPhone app, via their two-month old acquisition of Blockboard, a company that had been working on geo-location-based social network. An Android app is also in the works.

Another player in the game is Kred, which launched in 2011. Rather than measuring users on scores, it ranks according to ‘influence’ (when others retweet, reply or follow you) and ‘outreach level’ (when users reply, retweet or follow a new person or list).

So how does it differ to Klout? Well, unlike Klout, Kred provides a breakdown of your activity and updates your Kred score in real-time, rather than daily. Additionally, Kred lets users add offline ‘real world achievements’ that add points to your score depending on factors such as size of company, timescales and certificates. Similarly to Klout, Kred also uses a +Kred system for you to reward your peers.

Kred also places users in communities based on twitter bios and the hashtags and keywords from users’ posts. Each community receives a Kred score and Kred users that have shown particular leadership in their community are named ‘Kred Leaders’. Kred markets to brands by providing them with a list of Twitter users who are most influential in these communities.

Last week the company announced the Kred API, which allows marketers and others to find influential people based on their data mine of hundreds of billions of social media conversations from Twitter, Facebook posts, and 40 million blogs forums and other sources. The data is indexed and filtered to allow discovery of people discussing any topic by their keywords, hashtags, bio, interactions, location or community.

With this feature, brands can pinpoint influential people on any subject or within communities connected by shared interests or affinities. As well, location-based data can be returned for any keyword, hashtag or @name.

Traackr is another tool that let you indentify influencers in a particular field through something called Alpha Lists.  This is a great way to segment influencers based on a particular topic of interest.  Yesterday, Traackr announced a geo-targeting search feature that enables you to segment these Alpha List influencers by country.  While it only supports Canada, the US and UK, the company plans on quickly rolling out other countries and even city segmentation.  Full disclosure, the location-based marketing A-List (as seen below) is curated by me and shows the concept nicely.

It’s clear that for brands there is an ever-increasing array of tools available to help us find the true local advocate. We must remember, however, that influence is not only the ability to drive awareness and get recognition, but also a function of credibility, expertise and the ability to convince people to make decisions. In many situations, salespeople are the most important influencers of decisions, but they may not have any presence in social media.

Like most things, the answer is situational. For consumer companies with mass audiences, the factors measured by Klout, Kred and Traackr are probably pretty good indicators of a person’s ability to create awareness. For B2B companies, you need to look entirely outside of those areas. Analysts, media, peers, resellers, government officials, regulators and even academics can be far more influential than anyone in social media.

How Location-Based Services Are Reinventing Radio

17 May

While much of the location-based marketing discussion has been centered on mobile couponing and retail applications, there is a much wider implication for traditional media that should be considered.

One area that is just emerging in this is radio. Last fall the National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC), co-sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), released a Request for Proposals on location-based services technologies for terrestrial radio data broadcasting that could form the basis for future NRSC standards and/or guidelines. The goal of the NRSC is to identify new and innovative services using geo-location data that will benefit broadcasters and radio listeners alike.

“Local radio offers an ideal platform for the delivery of location-based services. This investigation by the NRSC will help to identify new opportunities for broadcasters to serve their communities and potential new sources of data broadcasting revenue,” said Kevin Gage, executive vice president and chief technology officer of NAB.

Digital radio technologies, specifically HD Radio in-band/on-channel digital radio, and the FM subcarrier-based Radio Data System (RDS), are already being used to disseminate traffic information, which is one type of location-based service.

Screenreach Interactive, based in the UK is one company that has been working to meet this need.  The company’s Screach technology is compatible with most smartphones, including iOS, Android and BlackBerry. Screach allows two-way interactions between a smart device and any content from other platforms such as digital screens, broadcast media, print, or simply within the app itself.

Screach was recently embedded in a series of apps through a partnership with Bauer Media, which aims to create “next generation radio applications delivering location-based, interactive services.”

Bauer Media’s radio apps have been downloaded more than one million times in the past year, reaching many people each week via its 42 radio stations. Now, it will use the Screach SDK to integrate the technology into its apps. This, in effect, will let Bauer create real-time, location-based content delivered to consumers while they are listening to radio via their smartphones.

Coming at it from a slightly different perspective is Pandora Radio. Because Pandora sign-ups collect zip codes, marketers can use geo-targeting to reach specific demographics through the system. The system enables advertisers to target users by age, music genre, and geography.

In one effort to target consumers, last year, Pandora planned a concert at the Largo in Los Angeles featuring Aimee Mann. To find concertgoers, Pandora sent messages to Pandora listeners who had given a “thumbs-up” — the site’s version of “liking” — to one of Mann’s songs and lived within driving distance of the venue.

At a recent event, Tim Westergren, Pandora’s founder and CSO, said: “You can put together really interesting events that you really couldn’t before.” He suggested that entire tours could potentially be planned based on fans and distance from venues.

Radio has reached a turning point, Westergren said. “At the core of that transformation is personalization. We’re migrating from a signal that’s broadcast to unicast, where people can create their own stations.” Unicast radio will ultimately replace broadcast radio because it “knows you,” he added. Pandora has been working with many brands to place location-based ads in stream for app users.  Home Depot, Norstrom and JC Penney are just a few of the early advertisers working with them.

It seems that as location-based marketing evolves, marketers are beginning to understand that it’s not just a mobile medium, but in fact a data point that cannot be ignored.  The ability to segment and target consumers based on location and location history will prove to be invaluable regardless of the medium.

How Local Gyms Can Use LBS Fitness Apps

14 May

Location-based fitness apps like Runkeeper and Runno are making it easier for individual users to trace their steps and get encouragement from others as they get in shape. The apps add elements of gamification to health routines, earning points, tracking workout progress via GPS, and counting distance traveled and calories burned.  But the real opportunity here is for local gyms and spas to get on this the location-based health kick.

Imagine a fitness club, where you “check-in” via an NFC-enabled smartphone, can see which of your friends are at the club now — and perhaps the more you visit, the bigger discount you get on next years’ membership. The potential for leveraging location data and services in this environment is limitless.  That same check-in could also digitally assign you a locker, show you the history of club usage by day and machine to help you plan your programs better, and link-up with heart-rate monitors and wearable sensors to communicate wirelessly with treadmills and other equipment.

ScreenScape, a provider of place-based media has been providing digital-signage solutions for many community venues including fitness clubs.  They recently partnered with Lifestyle Family Fitness and Mayfair Fitness Clubs in Canada to bring them the ability to deliver highly localized ad content and visual recognitions of Foursquare check-ins on screens in each venue.  In the Mayfair case they are even streaming content from their YouTube channel into the screens for patrons’ enjoyment.

Mark Hemphill, Founder and COO of ScreenScape says that “place-based media is a natural fit for fitness clubs.  There are tons of applications ranging from fitness videos, to membership drives and loyalty programs that make it a natural application for both venue enhancement and member engagement.”

Whether you are the fitness conscious consumer or the club providing a place to work out, location-based marketing enables truly powerful hyperlocal models and opportunities for true integration of people, places and media.