Extra, Extra, Foursquare To Get It!

April 13th, 2011 by Asif 1 comment »

April 16th, 2011 marks Foursquare Day around the globe.  Now in its second year, more than 150 cities are participating in a global group-hug check-in to the platform with more than 8 million users.

Why April 16th? According to founder Dennis Crowley, “Since four-squared equals 16, it would be great to check into Foursquare and create Foursquare Day on the 4th 16th of the year, otherwise known as 4/16 or April 16th.”

In addition to the special Foursquare Day badge, several other social media powerhouses are jumping on board, not the least of which is McDonald’s.

After posting a 33% increase in checkins on Foursquare Day last year, the company had pledged to join in the fun once again. This time they’ve come up with a creative offer that shows off one of our favorite characters — among foursquare users, at least — Mayor McCheese.

100 people (they will be randomly selected) who become the mayor of their local McDonald’s on Foursquare Day will get a unique, vintage Mayor McCheese shirt.

In addition, Untappd the location based mobile web application that lets you share your favorite beers, as well as where you’re enjoying them, has created a special badge you can earn via linkage to your Foursquare Day check-in.

Here in Toronto, where I’m based, an event MC’d by the fabulous Lauren O’Nizzle is planned with sponsorship support from the likes of Virgin Mobile, Chapters Indigo, Love Sewing, Canadian Stage, and TIFF.

Also, the folks from Mill Street Brewery will be out between 8:30-9:30 pm for a 4SQDayYYZ beer tasting!  Did I say beer again?

Over at the Location Based Marketing Association, we’re pumped to be the official promotional sponsor for the day. The event is being held at the Firkin on King and folks can join the meet-up here: http://www.meetup.com/foursquare/Toronto-CA/

See you there

Scoring With Fans – Location Based Sports Marketing

January 18th, 2011 by Asif No comments »

The world of location-based marketing is evolving rapidly and one of the industries at the forefront is professional sport.  Check-in technologies like Foursquare and Gowalla simply make sense for sports teams because they solve a key problem – Identification and connection with their fanbase.

You see, in many major markets, tickets are bought and sold numerous times before someone actual ends up with their butt in the seat.  So how do you know who is actually there?  How do you determine demographics of your audience like age and gender?  And what about all those fans in other cities that can’t get to the game?

Check-in services not only help with this identification, but present opportunities for personalized marketing and promotion.

Let’s take a look at the use of LBS services across the four primary leagues here in North America (NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB) in 2010


Location-based services are especially relevant for sporting events, says Michael DiLorenzo, senior director of social media marketing and strategy for the National Hockey League. “The in-home viewing experience has gotten so good for fans that you have to add value to the on-site experience.”

Since the NHL launched its official Foursquare partnership back in October, the league has seen its number of fans on Foursquare grow from 100 to more than 10,000

“Once you’ve achieved a critical mass on the major social platforms like Facebook, though the work may not be finished, you have to look where the fish are congregating next,” he says.

NHL fans that attended NHL Face-Off (opening night event) used their mobile devices to check-in on Foursquare. Tips and clues on the Foursquare mobile application then provided insider information to fans, pointing them to secret locations.

With the NHL’s global fan base and international player roster, mobile makes a lot of sense. In an effort to bolster its mobile media strategy, the organization has launched a new three-tier app aimed at reaching fans whether they’re at a game, in front of a TV or their laptop

The NHL has also been very active on Twitter – holding Tweetups (physical gatherings of fans on Twitter)

It found, he said, that out of 150 people who attended one NHL tweetup in New York City, 100 of them had Twitter personas that could be analyzed.


Not satisfied to sit on the sidelines of checkin games, the NBA released – NBA Turnstile, a mobile checkin service that lives inside NBA Game Time.

NBA Turnstile is a combo service that allows users to check into physical locations, a la Foursquare and Gowalla (the app integrates with these two services for its place database, and users can optionally check in to one or both), and into virtual locations, like televised games.

Digital checkins enable fans to check into nationally televised games on ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV. NBA fans can also check into Turnstile through Fanvibe sports-centric checkin service.

The basic premise is that NBA fans can use Turnstile to check in to any game they watch, whether it be at the arena, a sports bar or from the comfort of their couch. The app, of course, also supports integration with Twitter and Facebook so users can share “shoutouts” to those social networks.

Turnstile replicates the game mechanics we’ve seen in other checkin apps, including points, badges — awarded for weekly, monthly and season-long checkins — and a leaderboard. Turnstile is both a national and regional effort; NBA Digital is working with each team to create official badges for their specific locations. Teams can also create their own badges and checkin promotions.

“We see location based services as just the tip of the iceberg,” says Bryan Perez, senior vice president and general manager of NBA Digital. “The more we can integrate people’s location information at games, the more opportunities there are for things like sponsorships,” he says, adding there are no sponsorships for Turnstile in place currently.


Last July, the New England Patriots announced the launch of an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) designed to give Pats fans a new way to connect with the team using technology developed by Boston-based startup SCVNGR. The ARG is called Help Vince!

The game lead Patriots fans on a New England-wide SCVNGR trek to find Patriot’s defensive lineman Vince Wilfork’s “missing Super Bowl ring.” Of course, Wilfork had’t really lost his ring — the team was simply experimenting with transparency a little bit by deploying a hot new form of marketing known as an ARG.

Marketing ARGs are games that encourage participants to engage with brands by following a series of clues to learn more about the brand and solve problems in pursuit of an end-goal revelation.

“This is clearly one of the coolest things that has ever been built on SCVNGR,” said Seth Priebatsch, CEO and “Chief Ninja” of SCVNGR. “The Patriots have built awesome challenges all across New England. Literally millions of people can help Vince find his ring by doing these quick, fun challenges at the places near them. And win cool stuff. Oh and it only takes six seconds to do a challenge. So grab the app and get going!”

While SCVNGR has been pursuing the NFL market pretty hard, they may now have a competitor in Gowalla who recently announced 32 new stamps – one for each NFL team that fans/users can get just by checking in at their stadium of choice.


No stranger to social media, Major League Baseball added checkins via its MLB At Bat iPhone application (iTunes link).

Here’s what you get with the new feature:

* It works with Twitter and Facebook.

* It creates a sort-of chat room, where you and other people at the game can talk about the action.

* You get a map of the stadium so you can find bathrooms, concessions, and other information.

* And you’ll eventually gain access to highlights in the app. If there’s a great play, you’ll be able to watch it again on your phone.

This is a pretty neat feature for MLB to bake into its products. It’s a good way to corral people talking about the same game.

Another example of this is the collaboration between Facebook Places, Red Bull and the San Francisco Giants.

Similar to the NFL example, the Giants organized a scavenger hunt with 11 autographed Tin Lincecum baseballs (one for each strikeout).  A picture was uploaded to their site of the various locations and the first fan to get their and check in on Facebook Places won the ball.

Whether SCVNGR, Facebook, Foursquare or Turnstile, location-based marketing is a great way for the leagues and their teams to connect with sponsors and fans.

Twitter Squared: Places & Payments

November 15th, 2010 by Asif No comments »

It’s been awhile now since Twitter began allowing users to tweet their location via its Places feature, but now it looks like the company is taking Places a step further with a feature that lets businesses “claim” a location or place.

The “claiming” of Places page could be a sign that Twitter is getting serious about competing in the geo-location space currently dominated by Facebook and Foursquare. It could give businesses a new avenue to promote themselves on Twitter, and it could also lead to new revenue possibilities for the microblogging service.

It creates much speculation about what Twitter plans to do with its Place pages? Is Twitter planning to launch a deals feature of its own?

According to officials at Twitter however “Places is not available at this time. We’re experimenting with a variety features. Allowing businesses to claim a Place is a natural thing to consider for the future.”

Being able to claim a place on Twitter would seem to suggest that the company is thinking about adding to their offering. Google, Facebook, and Foursquare all allow venue-owners to claim their places.

The real game here is around location-based analytics and ultimately new streams of revenue.  Many big brands are already on Twitter with full-time community managers in place to respond to every tweet pro or con.

So, what if Twitter did actually allow businesses to claim their Places? Let’s think for a moment what could happen if this was coupled with Jack Dorsey’s (co-founder of Twitter) other new company – Square?

Square was unveiled last December as a small credit card reader that could turn any iPhone into a mobile cash register. The startup has since unveiled apps for the iPad, Android and iPhone. And Dorsey brought on PayPal and Slide veteran Keith Rabois as General Manager in August.

So where is Square seeing the most traction? Without a doubt, small businesses, independent workers and merchants comprise most of Square’s rapidly growing user base. The technology only requires its tiny credit card scanner that fits into your audio jack and Square’s app. The device and the software are free, but Square takes a small percentage of each transaction (2.75% plus 15 cents for swiped transactions).

While merchants have to qualify for the app, Square’s qualification rules are more relaxed than those of standard credit card processors, There are no initiation fees, monthly minimums, and when merchants apply for a reader, Square doesn’t just focus on a credit check, but also takes into account the influence a company holds on Yelp, Twitter or Facebook.

Rabois says that Square is the “PayPal for the real world.” He also compares Square as the “Apple for financial services,” because it is so easy to use out of the box.

So, you’re a small or medium business.  You can claim you Place online, manage the social messaging promotion through Twitter, and process your payments through a small device plugged into your existing phone.  No additional hardware and low transaction fees.

Seem likes a match made in heaven, and all brought to you by one company – Twitter

I like to think of Jack Dorsey like a modern day John Chambers – outsource R&D by seeding a whole bunch of complimentary start-ups and once they’re ready – just roll them into the mothership.

Now if only I could get a Square to use hear in Canada for our events at the LBMA – life would be great!

Facebook + Apple: Masters of the Location Universe?

November 4th, 2010 by Asif No comments »

Yesterday, Facebook along with more than 20 retail partners, including Gap, H&M, Lululemon, McDonalds’s, Starbucks and the San Francisco 49ers, announced a Facebook Deals component to augment their Places location-based service.

The move could bring a slew of new local and small business advertisers to the social network.  With more than 500 million users already, Deals could be the driver that brings location-based services to the masses.  And it’s needed – a study, also released yesterday by Pew Research indicates that only 4% of online adults use a location service like Foursquare or Gowalla.

The Deals service lets merchants push deals to their existing customers and attract new ones, according to Tim Kendall, Facebook’s director of monetization.

When users launch Facebook Places, they will see a listing of nearby venues, some which will have special icons indicating deals. They can pull up the deal, and with two clicks, they can claim it. When they go to the store or restaurant later, they can show the staff their Facebook app to redeem the deal.

The most interesting part of this announcement is that Facebook isn’t taking a cut of revenue for these discounts, posing a challenge to smaller competitors that use deal revenue as part of their business model. On a business’ Places page, they can set up an offer. There are four kinds:

  • Individual deals, which reward a customer if they check-in once.
  • Loyalty deals, which reward customers for a certain number of purchases or check-ins.
  • Friend deals, which reward customers if they bring in extra friends.
  • Charity deals, which allow businesses to donate to charity for every check-in they attract.

The Deals announcement is not however without speculation towards the future.

When Facebook called this press conference, much of the speculation was that they were going to announce their own phone – as referenced by TechCrunch in September.   That didn’t happen.  Instead, it appears that Apple and Facebook are getting closer and closer.

Could Apple be looking to buy Facebook?

Imagine if Facebook users suddenly all had iTunes and FaceTime accounts, giving Apple unquestioned dominance in online music and video chat. Apple and Facebook aren’t currently competing in any realm, but both are competing with Google, and there’s no love lost between Apple and Google.

Additionally, there’s significant synergy. The Facebook app for iPhone has been estimated to be one of the most used apps on the iPhone, with over 100 million active monthly users. One source, David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, claims that more than half of all usage of the iPhone of apps, other than those provided by the phone itself like telephony and email, is coming from Facebook.”

Apple has some $51 Billion in the bank meaning that they could afford to buy the social networking giant when it goes public.

Steve Jobs on a recent earnings call said “We strongly believe that one or more very strategic opportunities may come along, that we are in a unique position to take advantage of because of our strong cash position…And so I think that we’d like to continue to keep our powder dry, because we do feel that there are one or more strategic opportunities in the future. That’s the biggest reason.”

Perhaps the most important synergy is in the area of patents.  Facebook has been thinking about location for years and was recently granted a wide-reaching patent that could wipe newcomers off the social networking map.

Bnet, which broke the story, says the patent covers “a method of sharing locations of users participating in a social networking service at a geographic location” and the location is found using a “GPS Identifier”.

Similarly, Apple is hot on the patent bandwagon, in particular around NFC and location-based advertising.

Their recent patent application for “System and method for providing contextual advertisements according to dynamic pricing scheme” indicates.

Apple describes a mobile ad system that will work on your iPhone, iPod or iPad, and provide ads based on various direct or indirect marketing preferences through a “Local ad” app.  The owner of the network you are connected to at the time serves the ads.

A shopping mall owner, airport operator, or anyone else, providing Wi-Fi access, can serve ads from local merchants; wireless carrier can offer local ads, triggered by a location data from a base station or your GPS sensor, and search keywords you just entered in a search app, etc.

The combination of these two companies could indeed make them masters of the location-based universe.

Fourscore & More: Location Based Services Analytics

October 29th, 2010 by Asif 1 comment »

It seems a week doesn’t go by without an announcement about a new location-based services platform, while the so-called incumbents (Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, etc.) are tying desperately to add new features to generate revenues and grow their user base.

Agencies and brands however, are still “just experimenting” with location based services and not making significant investments, hindering adoption and mass market consumer appeal.

David Fieldhouse, co-founder and director of strategy at Lucidity Mobile, said, “Large agencies and brands rely on scale to make their business work, so when it comes to emerging services it really is difficult to convince them of the value.”

“When you talk to brands about using mobile vouchers they initially get quite excited, but then it gets really technical and you just see the clients’ eyes glaze over and the whole thing gets dropped,” he said.

One of the key reasons for this slow to adopt approach is the lack of analytics tools designed to help agencies measure reach, frequency and ROI.

Well, it appears we’re making progress.  In the last month three new analytics platforms have entered the market.

FortiusOne and Appcelerator announced the first location based analytics platform for mobile applications. This platform captures, analyzes and illustrates real-time data from mobile devices and social media services, helping application developers easily understand where, when and how their mobile apps are being used.

Termed ‘Titanium + Geo’, this platform helps enterprises, marketers and retailers get real-time data and measure its impact on their company’s bottom line.

For marketers that are specifically looking for analytics around Foursquare – enter Fourscore.

Developed by award-winning New York agency Deep Focus, the system provides two key metrics.  1. Competitive Foursquare: A measurement of mayorship turnover at a specific venue. 2. Check-in Foursquare: An index of how the volume of check-ins at a venue compares to others in the venue’s category.

Finally, this week home-grown (Vancouver) Geotoko launched the commercial version of their application.  It’s a powerful, yet simple platform that gives brands and agencies the ability to run location-based contests around checkins on all the major platforms, including Facebook Places.

The best part is their “LBS heat map” which provides real-time analytics to measure ROI, customers’ behavior, and campaign and location performance.

We are still early days in the location-based marketing evolution.  I like to say we are still in the first half of the first period of the hockey game.  There are many more platforms to come, but at least we’re finally getting some metrics to support it.

Location Based Marketing Summit – A Good Start

October 1st, 2010 by Asif No comments »

This week I attended the inaugural Location Based Marketing Summit in New York City.

The event featured an array of speakers from LBS platform companies like MyTown, Where, SimpleGeo and DoubleDutch to agencies like DeepFocus, VanyerMedia and Fleishman-Hillard

The quality and content was very good, despite the lack of much in the way of real case studies (New Jersey Nets and Booyah/Pantene and Deep Focus/HomeTurfFinder excepted)

Surprisingly absent was any representation from Foursquare, Google, Facebook or Twitter.

Here are some of the key take aways:

Game mechanics are a great way to grow LBS services.  Just look at Xbox Live and Farmville

People are now “media channels” LBS makes word of mouth marketing measureable

GPS is not proximity – there’s a difference between nearby and a specific location in a building

Where gets 11% response rates to ads driving traffic to the store

Placecast sees 25-65% redemption rates (fashion and retail)

Groupon is getting slammed on ability to drive sustainable traffic to stores beyond the initial offer

Media buyers are overwhelmed with choices. Consolidation and rate card are needed

Consumers will choose an LBS service that is complimentary to their lifestyle

Retail LBS: From Check-in to Checkout, and Beyond

September 10th, 2010 by Asif No comments »

Retailers and brands everywhere are experimenting with the onslaught of location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt to deliver coupons and other offers to their customers.

The big challenge however, is that most of the leading providers in the space are treating all customers the same.  People visiting a store are given the same reward that long-time, loyal fans are.

Two recent studies have pegged adoption rates of location-based services as relatively low.

One released earlier this week from Myxer suggests 11% of folks are using LBS, while that’s up from the 4% reported by Forrester in July, the numbers are still indicative of early adopters only.

Perhaps these low adoption rates stem from a mis-understanding of the market demand.  Customers don’t just want coupons and deals – they want Value and Relevance.

Technology providers targeting these retailers should give consideration to the old mantra of service first.  Get them there with a deal, make the deal valuable and relevant, and then provide support and service after they leave so that they come back again.

It’s experiential marketing 101.  A good example of this is the recent investment by Pepsi in TableTop Media.  The company uses a ZioskÔseven-inch wireless touch screen device (think smaller iPad) to provide restaurant guest with interactive and convenient ordering and checkout experience.

The next phase of location-based marketing and greater relevance will come from the use past histories of web traffic to serve up ads. In an article called, Seeing that Ad on Every Site? You’re Right. It’s Tracking You, we can begin to see how brands might start to use past check-ins as a way to offer specials based on where you’ve been.

For example, if you have been at a bar on Friday night, you could be served an ad or pushed an SMS telling you there is a Wednesday night happy hour or no cover as a new club next week.  Simply by knowing where you’ve been, brands can serve you the ad the minute they believe it will be the most impactful.

Canadian Airports Missing The Boat On Free WiFi

August 17th, 2010 by Asif No comments »

By now you all know that I’m a big supporter of Free WiFi.  I believe it should be everywhere – coffee shops, restaurant chains, hotels, stadiums and of course in our airports.

The problem, has always been in trying to get the big brands and media buyers to embrace the notion of sponsored WiFi.

Well, it seems that it’s finally taking shape.

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport started offering free web access to travelers wherever they are in the airport on August 1st.  The announcement follows on other recent changes by Edmonton, Ottawa, and Calgary all in the last six months.

Pearson is on a six-month sponsorship agreement with Roger’s, said Sergio Pulla, Manager, Product Strategy Marketing and Commercial Development at the GTAA

He would not disclose the amount of the contract, but did say that the infrastructure is still provided by Boingo, and that the airport is paying Boingo a fixed monthly fee for management of the equipment and customer service.

For their part Roger’s gets exposure on the login page as well as in-terminal communications including signage, floor stickers, and logo-placement in the Flight Information Display system.

The real missed opportunity for Roger’s and other potential sponsors here is the lack of any tie-in to location-based services.  WiFi is inherently a location-based service.

Where are the coupons, offers and discounts for logging onto the network?  With a whole slew of retailers and food service providers in the airport, the GTAA and others’ are missing the boat on revenue sharing by partnering with companies like Foursquare and Gowalla.

Sponsors care about metrics and the only real way to drive the numbers, and ultimately more sponsorship is through incentive. There were about five-million paid WiFi users at the airport in 2009, among 30.4-million passengers.

Free by itself is not enough, especially when a large percentage of business travelers already have company-paid data plans for their Blackberry and iPhones.

Recent global airport studies have pegged mobile WiFi usage at almost 48% vs. laptop connections.

As our airports and restaurant chains begin to seek sponsors to pay for free WiFi networks, perhaps they should be thinking bigger.  Consumers like free, but consumers really want relevant content and offers – see Starbucks recent free WiFi and Digital Content Network announcement.

In a conversation with Federica Nazanni – GM for Windsor International Airport, I learned that they are still on the old paid WiFi system with Boingo.  The problem as Federica put it “is we want to go free, but as a feeder airport to Toronto, we aren’t able to attract the national sponsors like them.”

She also agrees that success for them will come from increasing the value of the sponsorship package through location-based ties-ins to retailers and targeted signage opportunities.

Sponsorship is definitely the way to go, but real success will come through partnership with media companies, publishers, retailers and others.

Is WiFi A Scarce Resource?

July 8th, 2010 by Asif No comments »

Can you picture a world with no WiFi?

If you’re in the US or Europe, probably not, in fact there’s a good chance you’re in a coffee shop or somewhere else right now reading this while connected to a WiFi hotspot.  If you’re Canada it’s easier to imagine because other than Starbucks and Second Cup there really isn’t any WiFi.

So what would a world without WiFi look like?  Is there a problem looming on the horizon?  According to Cisco Systems, we may be in for a WiFi shortage.  You see the number of WiFi-enabled devices is growing rapidly (580 million shipped in 2009) and the spectrum available for WiFi broadcast is finite.

When it comes to devices, we know all about the smartphones, iPads, and laptops roaming around everywhere these days, but add to that digital cameras, photo frames, televisions, gaming platforms and the rest, and the demand is staggering.  It’s a rare coffee shop that doesn’t buzz with WiFi activity at all hours of the day and night. Now that Starbucks, will bring free WiFi to all locations in North America, the spectrum will be taxed even more.

Cisco, a major player in the hardware-side of the WiFi business, says smartphones use 30 times as much data as regular phones.  That’s a lot of browsing, video watching, shopping, and stock checking.  And with 1.7 million next-gen iPhones alone selling before the end of June, your favorite hotspot is swarming with even more WiFi usage than before.

You need look no further than the 1100 people in attendance for the WWDC conference at the Moscone centre where Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself couldn’t get a WiFi connection to show off his company’s latest version of the iPhone.

We’ve all had those moments, where the demand far outstrips the supply of WiFi and we get a spotty or slow or even no connection at all.  Are we using too much of the available spectrum?  Can WiFi grow to fit our gadget-loving needs?  We’re certainly going to buy more devices, but unless we increase the amount of WiFi out there, we’re all in for more Jobs-like moments in the future.

It’s not just about the proliferation of devices, but also the type of content and the amount of data being consumed on the network.  In particular, Video and location-based services like Foursquare are exploding.

Mobile TV over WiFi could be a big deal, according to a report by Juniper Research, TV over WiFi traffic could increase 25 times between now and 2015 with revenues in the $7 billion range.

It’s expected as this happens that cellular operators will turn to WiFi to offload more traffic from the already taxed 3G/4G networks.

“Cellular networks are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver high quality mobile TV services at times of peak usage: thus, the World Cup has posed particular problems with large spikes in viewing figures”, says the report’s author Dr Windsor Holden, “WiFi can ameliorate this in the short term, but this is only a partial remedy.”

A white paper exploring the changing mobile TV landscape, ‘Tuning in to Mobile TV’ is available to download from Juniper’s website.

So with more devices and more traffic on the networks, how do we solve the problem?

One interesting development that can help alleviate some of the congestion is an announcement two weeks ago by President Obama. He signed a memorandum committing the government to provide 500 MHz worth of new broadband to ease the use of electronic equipment ranging from cell phones to laptop computers.

“America’s future competitiveness and global technology leadership depend, in part, upon the availability of additional spectrum,” Obama wrote in the memorandum. “The world is going wireless, and we must not fall behind.”

Under the plan, the government will begin identifying specific sources of the new spectrum; they will come from both the public and private sectors, including television broadcast and mobile satellite facilities

The primary source of this new spectrum will actually come from what is referred to as “white spaces” this is spectrum that has already been allocated to the radio and television broadcast sector, but is not used locally.   In fact the mandated move to digital television freed up large areas between 50 MHz and 700 MHz.

The bottom line is governments need to work with the private sector to open up more spectrum on all fronts – WiFi, 3G/4G, LTE, White Spaces, etc.  The consumer demand is already there and growing rapidly.  In doing so however, we need to also give consideration to the proper balance of free and paid connectivity sources.  The availability of broadband for all is still a must!

So, as we move to create more capacity, let’s do so in a way that serves all facets of our socio-economic global community.

Why Media & Entertainment Companies Need LBS

June 14th, 2010 by Asif No comments »

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.