Posts Tagged ‘LBS’

A Hyper-Local Black Friday Wrap

December 8th, 2011

Checking-in to Super Savings

One of the most hectic shopping days of the year has passed, and this year’s Black Friday marked an interesting development in the marketing efforts of major retailers. Although the typical Black Friday shopper battled the crowds with a purpose and a pre-determined route, location based mobile apps enabled retailers to access the discount-driven shoppers who just can’t resist a good deal. An increasing number of companies have turned to these services to offer customers exclusive deals via their mobile devices. Accessing customers through their mobile devices has become an attractive feature for retailers as it allows them to target the sales-crazy, on-the-go shoppers who just might trample down anyone who gets in their way of a sale.

Foursquare , which recently announced they had hit 14 million users has become an important app that many retailers have paired up with to offer discounts, which customers receive once they have ‘checked in’, or shared their location. Various stores are enticing customers into their retail store mayhem by offering special discounts only available through this app. These examples pictured from Foursquare’s blog are only a few examples of the retailers targeting the media-savvy shopper, with stores ranging from AT&T to UPS also offering check-in discounts. Foursquare is not alone in its location based advertising, as companies like SCVNGR, Facebook Places, and Yelp are also offering these types of deals to sales-hungry customers for checking in.

QR Codes – The Modern Catalogue

Aside from encouraging retail madness through discounts for mobile check-ins, retailers are also using QR codes to provide customers with an easier and faster shopping experience. With Black Friday being one of the biggest sales days of the year, QR codes are becoming increasingly prevalent in retail stores. While QR codes are not a new phenomenon to the advertising world, the upcoming holiday season has retailers embedding them into a variety of marketing displays to attract mobile users. Companies such as JC Penney and Macy’s are among the many retailers that have introduced QR codes into their stores this holiday season. Sears and Kmart have created ‘gift walls’ in their stores, placed in viewing sight of those waiting in the cash line, which are essentially walls filled with QR codes linking the customer to popular items for sale. With the increase in technological innovations, mobile phones are quickly becoming the best aid a shopper can have for finding the best deals.

The numbers are growing, but what’s next?

Recent stats from AdvertisingAge showed Foursquare checkins on Black Friday as a significant increase over last year.  And while Starbucks and Mcdonald’s topped the list, Wal-Mart with over 149,000 was the leading national retailer.  But it checkins and QR codes are just the start.  Expect to see these apps and more to further expand to include real-time product inventory, mobile wallets, and even virtual goods in the form of augmented reality.  eBay Mobile announced that shoppers in the U.S. purchased nearly two and a half times as many items via eBay Mobile this Black Friday when compared to 2010 and PayPal Mobile (another division of eBay) announced a six-fold (516%) increase in global mobile payment volume compared to 2010

Shoppers will increasingly choose the convenience of mobile to find the best deals from wherever they are while avoiding big crowds and long lines. The ability to simply pick up your phone or tablet and purchase what you want, when you want it, has become an attractive alternative to shoppers in record numbers this holiday season. The possibilities are endless.

Geo-local Healthcare

July 28th, 2011

Marketing to Save Lives

Going to the doctor is similar to waiting for the Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup or even just to get into the playoffs. It is a long, long process. But imagine you could show up at the neighbourhood walk-in and they are already up to date with your current medical situation. Or that you are visit the nearest ER knowing they only have a wait time of 10 minutes with GPs that are rated the best. This idea seems unlikely and somewhat far-fetched, but with technology developing everyday and hospitals feeling the pressure to become more up-to-date it is possible. Be it locating the nearest medical devices, testing yourself for disease or fundraising for sick children, location based services are making it happen.

Holland’s AED App

Airports, hospitals, and major attractions have become common locations to find an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) within arms reach. To be effective, the AED needs to reach the patient within minutes. The Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in Holland teamed up with Layar to create an augmented reality app that showcases the AEDs within your vicinity and which is closest to you. Their objective was to reduce searching time and provide users with a quick and easy app that could save lives. If you ever find yourself walking through LAX and someone drops beside you, then pull out this app and it’ll guide the way. Hopefully it lets you know to use the AED, too!

MTVs Get Yourself Tested Badge

There is an outstanding statistic that every one in two people will contract an STD by the time they’re 25. To help young people become more aware of STDs, MTV teamed up with Foursquare to develop a badge that users would receive after checking into clinics to get a STD test performed. The campaign was called Get Yourself Tested and was endorsed by an overwhelming number of celebrities through the MTV website. During a month of the campaign, if users checked in to a clinic they would be entered in a contest with the chance to win a free trip to NYC to be on MTV.  Although an extremely mortifying place to check into on Foursquare, MTV was a milestone for cause-related and healthcare-related badges. Next time you go for a colonoscopy, check if there’s a badge. Everyone deserves a badge for that appointment!

UCSF launches Social Media Fundraiser

UCSF Challenge for the Children kicked off an 8-week campaign designed to reach out through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. This encouraged people to contribute as individuals or become team leaders to support the hospital. Some team leaders included celebrities like Aston Kutcher. They successfully reached their fundraising goal and broke into a space that hospitals have yet to frequent.

For location based marketing, hospitals and other health care related fields have yet to be explored in serious depth. Recently the FCC and FDA signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of technology for wireless enabled medical devices and services, which opens the doors to possibilities. What will come next? Will hospitals use augmented reality to help patients navigate through their maze-like walls? Will Facebook Places allow patients to locate and critique their local OBGYN or GP? Will hospitals use RFID to pin point all of their MDs on a map? Really the opportunities for this space are endless and can really make the healthcare industry more appealing, approachable and up-to-date. In the future when you are feeling under the weather, tweet about it and maybe a nearby doc will make a house call or in the least Dr. Oz re-tweets you.

Putting The Customer Back In The Deal

July 6th, 2011

TeamBuy, WagJag, BuyWithMe, LivingSocial, and Groupon are among the most common names within the newest marketing phenomenon known as team buying. No, this doesn’t mean that your recreational softball team is going to pitch in to buy team sweaters. Although somewhat similar, team buying refers to a group of people coming together to buy items at a discounted price. Hoarders around the world will preach that buying in bulk is always cheaper which is the fundamental concept of these companies. Except, the items (or services and experiences) being purchased are in singles quantities by complete strangers- ONLINE! Considering that everyone and their grandmothers are looking for the cheapest price on anything they buy and these consumers are also become overly confident with purchasing online, team buying sites seem like a win-win solution. Retailers are increasing their foot traffic and consumers are saving a buck. From a marketing view, this is a complete nightmare.

Bringing Back the Basics

All good marketing textbooks explain the idea of customer relationship management (CRM), where marketers try to build relationships with their customers to ensure loyalty, repeat visits and protection of future business. Team buying websites have completely neglected the idea of CRM and put their entire focus on creating transactional customers. Furthermore, team buying sites have enabled mom-and-pop stores to get their name out there, while increasing foot traffic. But happens when giants like McDonalds enter the fray? Are consumers going to buy the deal for the local burger joint or hold off for the Golden Arches?

Gap and GroupOn

As an example let’s look at Gap. They participated in a Groupon promotion during summer 2010 and generated over $11 M in sales in one day by giving $25 off of $50 of clothing. Those are amazing results for a single day (and losses considering they would need to fork over $11 M to cover that promotion). In the long run, consumers will come in and spend more than $50 giving Gap even greater profits and increase their foot traffic. Except, Gap alienated their regulars and gave random customers a deal and their best got nothing. And the customers that purchased the deal will most likely use their coupon and never return as they are just following the deal. Was this a good business move or bad? Only their sales will tell. Least we know it wasn’t as bad as their new logo launch.

Future of the Fad

Although, the current model of buying sites may not be as attractive as they seem there are platforms emerging that may be a better solution. LevelUp and SocialSelect are combining the check-in, the game and the reward all in one. The difference between them and the daily deal is that they encourage individuals to engage with their brands and provides them with an incentive to return. LevelUp is built on both mobile and web interface and can be used in real-time, which incorporates location! The concept is based on levels, once the player passes level 1 they automatically move on to level 2 and so on. For a restaurant, level 1 can be a breakfast deal, level 2 could be lunch and level 3 could be dinner. Furthermore, you can purchase the deal and use it immediately by showing the barcode.

SocialSelect provides their best customers during a visit with a deal card that they can use to log on to the site and be rewarded with a deal that they apply to their next visit. They can also share the incentive with selected friends. This way companies are able to use the deal as a private, select marketing tool rather than an arbitrary discount.

Another consideration is the announcement last week from location mainstay, Loopt.  The company launched U-Deals – the reverse Groupon.  Currently available only in San Francisco, the system empowers the consumer to make their own deal, at the places they pick.  You come up with the deal, you get your friends on board, and then submit it to Loopt.  They then try to get the merchant to accept the deal.

If it works both the consumer and merchant should benefit through better margins.

Team buying seems to be the latest fad in the marketing space. By adding location, this fad can become the future. SocialSelect and LevelUp have been pioneers in this area by adding the foundations for daily deals and CRM. Will this prevent Grouponers from frequenting their daily sites? Probably not. But it does give some hope to businesses that are not reeking in the benefits of team buying. This way they can build clientele and reward their best customers at the same time. Although, there are arguments for and against team buying, we can say for certain that a good solution is always location. But for now, we can only wonder if TLC will make a spinoff to Extreme Couponing.

Mo Money In Mobile?

June 7th, 2011

Have you ever thought about how awkward first dates really are? You barely know the person, probably are going to be short for questions and comments, and chances are you are extremely nervous because you want to make a good impression. But we’ve all been there and gone to dinner with that guy from the accounting department or the girl from the coffee shop. I’m also sure we’ve all had to deal with the utter shock and dismay when you reach to offer to pay for the bill and the only thing in your back pocket is a note from your mother asking you to turn the lights off when you get home. You’ve just successfully eliminated all chances of a second date. Imagine how much perspiration would be saved if you could just pay for the meal with your cell phone. You would never “forget your wallet” again as your mobile device is likely glued to your left hand. Lucky for all you first daters, this is actually going to be a possibility. Lucky for the marketers, mobile payment systems are a whole new space to explore and new technology to utilize.

Google Mobile Wallet

Google has announced their NFC- based Google Wallet, which is a mobile payment system designed to allow users to pay for retail items with their phone just by tapping. Google has teamed up with giants such as Subway, Macy’s and MasterCard. The partnership with MasterCard in particular will allow Google Wallet users to pay at any PayPass contactless system already installed. Payment isn’t the only draw to this wallet; by tapping at locations consumers would receive offers and promotions directly to their mobile device otherwise known as Google Offers. While trials are underway in NYC and San Francisco, Google is hoping for a full release this summer. We can only imagine what’s next: boarding passes, SIN cards, gametes. Regardless what it is, I’m sure Google will make it happen.

Visa PayWave

Visa developed this contactless card to compete with MasterCard’s PayPass but has not teamed up with DeviceFidelity to apply a mobile twist. They applied the smart chip technology from the card into mobile devices so that users just need to select the icon and wave their device over the payment system. Their pilot project is taking place in LA and New York transit systems including taxis. Their objective is making Visa usage more efficient and secure while eliminating cash handling for transit operators. Furthermore, it saves transit riders from scavenging the streets for those additional pennies to make the accurate change to ride the rail.

 

Apple + Square

As Google Mobile Wallet and Visa Pay Wave are in the process of creating more efficient processing systems, Apple and others are keeping it creative with a temporary solution, Square.  This nifty device was developed to ease online payments for consumers purchasing with their iPad or iPhone or other mobile device. Merchants develop an account for a small few and users just buy the device for $10 allowing quick and easy credit card payments on-the-go. By pairing this with location based services, consumers will be able to walk by a retail store, receive an offer that blows them away and pay for it all through their handheld mobile device. Talk about handy.

Mobile payment systems not only make shopping easier for customers but more efficient and productive for merchants as transactions will be faster, safer and less fraudulent. Furthermore, it is developing a whole new customer experience as its cool, unique and fun to be spending money.  Google Mobile Wallet has broken ground with this technology and has created a space, which allows for almost anything to go mobile. As marketers, there are opportunities to target these customers into retail locations that are housing the contactless payment systems and offering them deals. Now that we know where payment systems are headed, you better go trade in your best goat for the newest iPhone.

Making The Unsocial Social

May 31st, 2011

When A Place Is Not A Place

The New Directions are heading to nationals in NYC on Glee and a group of girls are comically preparing for the wedding of the decade in Bridesmaids. Popping bubble wrap and hitting green lights in row are amongst 1000 pleasures in life described in Neil Pasricha’s The Book of Awesome. Love songs and ballads are penetrating the ears of listeners as British gem, Adele, hits the top on global music charts. Seems like a lot is going on in the entertainment industry, but do we have all the stickers to prove it?

Traditionally, paperbacks in comfy chairs or classic films on the couch while wrapped in blankets accompany rainy days. TV has been a mindless pass time for as long as Bob Barker hosted the Price as Right. Now all the activities that your introverted side associated with have gone online and become social. No need to panic and hide in the closet clutching your weathered collection of Harry Potter, platforms are now available for you to discuss your potion concoctions and Quidditch tactics with other muggles online.

Platforms like GetGlue, Miso and Philo provide viewers with enhanced interaction with their favourite forms of entertainment. This allows networks, publishers and film studios to build relationships with their consumers by rewarding them with stickers or other tangible prizes and encourage further usage. TV studios utilize these platforms to encourage live viewing and consistency as certain episodes unlock other rewards.  GetGlue has evolved into the leader of this booming space with users surpassing 1M and check-ins exceeding 12M. Users can check-in through their website or mobile Apps (available on iPhone and Android, sorry BB users!) to identify that they are watching, reading or listening to items. In doing so, users will receive stickers or badges and sometimes be entered to win tangible prices. Furthermore, there is the option for users to comment and like pieces as they would over crumpets at their book club.

As marketers within the entertainment industry, how can we use this to reach our target audience or even just to have one of those nifty stickers? Networks have already launched successful (and somewhat adhesive) campaigns.

CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada Gets Glue’d

For Canadians (like myself), hockey is part of the culture and suits worn by Don Cherry had become socially accepted and respected. CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada teamed up with GetGlue to make exclusive stickers that are available to users when they check in at games. This campaign was launched during game 7 of Montreal vs. Boston with exclusive sports-related stickers. Now onto the semifinals, let’s just hope that Canada comes out strong to make these stickers worth it. Go Canucks!

Miso let’s Viewers Pick ‘Em

Although Donald Trump is a leading business magnate, his luscious blond locks don’t always allow him to make the right decisions on Apprentice. Seeing as reality shows are something that cannot be missed because of the fear of overhearing the outcome during your commute to work the following day. Miso is allowing viewers to participate during the living viewing, to step in and make the decision for Mr. Trump. Unfortunately, this poll will have no bearing on the results of the show but it does encourage user engagement and allows viewers to interact with each other in real time. So, next time you’re watching Dancing with the Stars, log on to Miso and share who you think should move on: Kirstie Alley or the Situation. “None of the above” isn’t an option.

You Again, Philo!

Prior to the premiere of the movie, You Again, Philo launched a campaign offering the chance to win a $500 spa package grand prize among smaller prices like memorabilia and free tickets. To be entered in the draw, users had to check in a minimum of 3 different times to shows that aired a You Again commercial. If the user went on to comment “you again” on any of the qualifying shows they would be entered to win the grand prize. Not bad for a lazy Sunday on the couch.

GetGlue and others have broken ground in a whole new space. They have developed a platform that works like Foursquare but the users don’t have to leave the comfort of their own home. ‘Checking In’ is no longer limited to actual places, but virtual ones too. In doing so, GetGlue has reached an entirely new market, formally known as the couch potatoes and bookworms. Going forward, you should remove the tarnished pins from your old canvas rucksack because it’s all about stickers now!

To Be Realistic About Marketing Is To Augment Reality

May 17th, 2011

As a marketer, have you ever thought that your kismet is lying on the super imposed 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 to which their consumers can be a part of. As AR is within its infancy stage, there are no limitations to form of communication it embodies. Whether it’s an experience like walking around the top of Toronto’s CN tower or a product like a Happy 90th Birthday, Grandma! giftcard. Through its dynamism, AR has already showcased services, goods and entertainment, which have shifted reality from relatively normal to 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

eBay partnered with AR platform Junaio to launch an app that displays all nearby classified ads. The app allows you to filter the listings with keywords to avoid clutter in busy areas. The ads appear on your screen as you change your phones direction and take it one step further to dial the number posted to set up an appointment. Something as daunting as apartment hunting is made simple by this app, all you do is hold your phone to the building of your dreams and then sign 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. Therefore with World Browser, you have the capacity to know anything about everything anywhere in the world.

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. As if life isn’t already crazy enough without Captain Hook.

Augmented Reality is field that should be considered by marketers globally as consumers are actively seeking brands and, in some cases, trying them on. As for being location based, AR will add a digital overlay to real world experiences and give a different perspective on life as the consumer relocates. It may add background information about places like Times Square or Union Station, or give customer reviews on products during shopping trips through WalMart 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. Or, in the least, will add computer-generated pieces to it.

Fashion & Foursquare

May 10th, 2011

Moving from Sears catalogues being delivered in the mail to email blasts being sent directly to your handheld, the fashion industry has evolved into one of the fastest moving industries in the market. As soon as a trend becomes popular it is already obsolete in the eyes of any style maven. To ordinary folk keeping up to date on  “what’s hot” in the fashion world is a daunting task and can be extremely costly. To marketers, this is a budding segment that needs immediate attention and wit to overcome the already overbearing noise.

While fashion is moving fast, technology is moving faster. Major retailers, such as BestBuy and Macy’s, have teamed up with companies like Shopkick Inc. to deploy location-based Smartphone Apps. The Apps utilize cell phones location capabilities to target customers within a designated area around their retail store. The App will send them promotions; coupons or other marketing offers which will appeal to the customer when they are in the position to buy.  As BestBuy and Macy’s are tracking their customers, Gap Stylemixer is building wardrobes, Ralph Lauren is designing customized rugby shirts and Chanel is showcasing their fashion show all on the mobile platform. Shop ‘til you drop is the past. Shop ‘til your cell phone dies is the present.

Location-based apps are successfully communicating with consumers and are a “hot” trend within the marketing world. Ultimately, the surplus of Apps depreciates any given brand’s cool factor. Like every trend, they become overdone and fall into the “everyone is doing it” category similar to what was seen with bell-bottom jeans in the 70’s. Unsurprisingly enough as fashionistas are always one step ahead, icons such as Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo and Diesel have taken location-based marketing to the next level, or as some could say, the next runway.

Marc Jacobs in NYC Fashion Week

Marc Jacobs has embraced social media and digital technology to develop marketing ideas that go against the traditional marketing employed by other fashion brands.

Prior to fashion week in NYC, Marc teamed up with FourSquare to develop a “Fashion Victim” badge that enthusiasts acquired after “checking-in” to Marc Jacob locations throughout the Big Apple and other states.  Randomly four individuals who unlocked the badge in New York were invited to the Marc Jacobs fashion show. In doing so, both Marc Jacobs and FourSquare became the subject of chatter for days leading up to the show.

Jimmy Choo’s CatchAChoo

Jimmy Choo launched the CatchAChoo event in London via Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare to connect the digital world to the real world by inviting shoe fanatics to participate in the game. All they had to do was follow the clues posted online by a representative and approach them and say “I’ve been following you.” The winner gets a free pair of trainers and bragging rights to the remaining cyber losers.

Be Stupid with Diesel

Originally, Diesel worked with Iced Media (digital marketing agency) to develop a successful online campaign called “Be Stupid” which encouraged individuals to upload photos via Twitter, Facebook and Flckr. Decidedly, Diesel teamed up with FourSquare to drive their online traffic into their retail locations by allowing customers to “check-in” and receive a prize. Additionally, customers will receive a sticker with the Be Stupid slogan on it that they are encouraged to bring home, photograph and email for a chance to win bigger, better and more stupid prizes.

These campaigns were initial forays into the capabilities of location-based marketing. Although FourSquare is America’s Next Top Model, similar platforms, such as SCVNGR, Gowalla, and Goldrun, are climbing the ranks and developing unique opportunities for brands to reach (and wardrobe) their consumers. But with every marketing fad, Louis Vitton comes up with a new bag. Keep your fingers busy on those sites and eventually you will “check- in” at the right time!

Scoring With Fans – Location Based Sports Marketing

January 18th, 2011

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

The NHL

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.

The NBA

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.

The NFL

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.

MLB

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

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

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.