Archive for June, 2010

Why Media & Entertainment Companies Need LBS

June 14th, 2010

As I sit at the beautiful Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel attending the NextMedia/Banff World Television Festival, I can’t help but think about the huge opportunity in front of media and entertainment companies when it comes to location-based services.

Already, we are seeing early signs of deals with companies like MyTown, FourSquare and GoWalla.

The Travel Channel has found early success with its MyTown application to the tune of 17 million check-ins in one month, while FourSquare has struck partnerships with media companies such as HBO, Warner Brothers, MTV and Bravo.

And the phenomenon is not limited to just television,

Concert promoters are jumping on board as well, as events such as Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza are all using mobile apps to enhance the concert experience for attendees as part of a broader new-media push that also includes social media, LBS and other broad Internet initiatives to co-exist.

Many of these apps are also integrated with Twitter and Facebook.  In the music business, it’s all about improving the fan experience while at the event, and then finding ways to extend the experience into an ongoing relationship long after the event or concert is over.

At the recent forum hosted by Future of Local Media during Internet Week NY, several questions around the concept of the value of geo-location and LBS were explored.

Ian Spalter, Executive Creative Director of Mobile & Emerging Platforms at R/GA, believes that this opportunity forces brands to consider not only how they are relevant to a consumer’s life, but also when and where they are relevant.  Mark Ghuneim, CEO of WiredSet/Trendrr, encourages brands to enable an experience for a customer.  The value to the marketer is the emergence of the real-place web.  Whereas the real-time web gave marketers an understanding of how consumers interacted online, the real-place web offers an understanding of how people live their lives on the move.

So, how do media and entertainment companies leverage the real-place web to reach consumers? Well, I see two immediate possibilities.

The first is to trade sponsorship of Free WiFi or some other value-add in-venue service, for consumer input on everything from pilot episodes, to ad campaigns, to television commercials.  In other words, no need to bring the focus group in and feed them Smarties and popcorn.  Push the focus group out to the public and crowdsource the answers in exchange for something they want, in the place they’re already at.

The second is to go further down the road of gaming and/or product integration. This time however, we change the venue from the home to the place people are at – while out of home.

Several television shows have attempted over the last few years to engage fans on both the digital and broadcast channels simultaneously.   A recent example is the relationship between NBC’s Chuck and Subway.

When the show sat on the bubble for renewal, engaged fans stepped up through the show’s Fansite, Facebook and Twitter, asking them to buy a $5 dollar foot-long sub during the finale episode.

At one point, The Hollywood Reporter called Chuck the “most discussed bubble show online”

It worked, and the show was renewed with further support from Subway and others.

But, what if the drive to renew the show actually happened based on check-ins and/or mobile couponing at actual Subway stores?  The value to the advertiser would have likely been enormous in getting people to their stores and of course in driving incremental sales.

As a final thought, I come home to a Canadian icon in Tim Horton’s.  Now here is a company that is focused on one brand and one brand only – their own.  So how can a media company use the largest chain in Canada to connect with patrons of Tim Horton’s?

Give them what they already have.  On any given day, you can walk into a coffee shop and find copies of the Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, and the like all over the tables.  So why not embrace that?  Why not reward the natural synergy between a newspaper and our morning coffee, with free at home delivery subscriptions based on the number of check-ins at a coffee shop or gas station?

The opportunities for media and entertainment companies are limitless.  The real place web is here and together as consumers, technology providers, content producers and distributors, we must find ways to cross platforms and work together to embrace the power of LBS in engaging people at the right place in the right time.

WiFi & LBS Renew Privacy Pandemonium

June 1st, 2010

In light of the recent Google WiFi debacle, those of you new to the world of WiFi & LBS might have a few questions regarding this technology and the security of your personal information.

Let’s start with a quick recap.  On May 8th, the German data protection agency asked Google to audit the WiFi data they collect for use in products such as Google Maps.  We subsequently learned, by Google’s own admission, that they had been collecting everything from SSID names to MAC addresses and even some payload data (information for users sessions while connected to the network).

This has produced not only a stiff response from global governments, but also several class action lawsuits.  One such lawsuit in the US suggests that Google could end up paying $10,000 for each privacy violation, and they have even engaged the FTC to conduct a formal investigation into the consumer implications.

So what does this mean for consumers of WiFi, Facebook and Foursquare?

One of the most common concerns about Foursquare relates to user privacy. Surely, if you’re checking in everywhere you go, every day, you’re opening yourself up to some fairly significant privacy risks. More specifically, you’re handing over your location information to potential stalkers.

So the key to reducing the privacy-risks associated with using Foursquare is to set a privacy-strategy. In other words, properly manage who has access to your location information, and don’t check in everywhere you go.

Specifically, I recommend that you should only accept as friends on Foursquare those people that you are absolutely comfortable with knowing your location.

We already know that Facebook, too, has had its share of privacy concerns, leading to last week’s simplification of their privacy policy.  Canada’s 12 million Facebook users should be proud to have a watchdog like the privacy commission pushing Facebook to fall in line with our PIPEDA rules.

We can only anticipate that this will be tested even further as Facebook begins to embrace the location-aware features I’ve recently discussed.

And what about unsecured, public WiFi?  Should you connect? What are the risks?  The risks are great that both your personal information and session data may be compromised, but it soon may not matter.

Increasingly, governments are coming out hard against free or unsecured WiFi.  In Germany, you can be fined up to €100 if you don’t password-protect your network.

The UK has recently approved a Digital Economy Bill.  Under the proposed new regime, WiFi users will choose between two options: either you’re essentially an ISP, in which case you’ll need to become a copyright cop and police the connections of anyone using your network at great expense, or you’re not an ISP, in which case you’re responsible for any malicious use of the network, and subject to fines and lawsuits.

Does this mean the end of free public WiFi?  I think not – just the end to unsecured WiFi.  What it really means is that venues will find ways to work with ISPs, and that ISPs will find ways to build the cost of policing their networks into the mix.  Subsidization of such networks will come from the same brands and advertisers that ultimately want to reach the same consumer that wants free WiFi today.

Of course they can always opt out, but the cost for free, yet “secured” WiFi in the future will be to watch an ad, complete a survey, or disclose your location.

As consumers we are very simple-minded.  We want the notion of privacy, but most of us will never really take the time to change and fiddle with the settings – we’d rather just connect and maybe get something for free.