Posts Tagged ‘LBS’

Location Based Marketing Summit – A Good Start

October 1st, 2010

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

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 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

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

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.

LBS: At The Intersection of Brands & Consumers

May 20th, 2010

We’ve heard a lot over the last few months about the explosion of location-based services (LBS). From Foursquare and Gowalla to the lesser known Loopt and BrightKite, agencies, media buyers and brands are all trying to understand how to best use them.  And now the behemoth – Facebook has entered the fray!

With over 100 million active mobile users, Facebook appears to be on the way to building a mobile ad network.

We recently learned that McDonald’s, as an article in AdAge indicates, is building an app with Facebook that would allow users to check in at one of its restaurants and have a featured product appear in the post, such as an Angus Quarter Pounder.  Enough check-ins and you may qualify for a free burger or fries!

My question, is why not tie this into the free nation-wide WiFi they recently announced?  They could even allow users to authenticate onto the WiFi network using Facebook Connect.

This is just one example of how the concept of “checking-in” at a specific location is starting to be rewarded or converted to a loyalty program.

Pepsico recently announced preliminary plans around a Foursqaure program. The basic idea is that they want to sell their products to customers when they are near a grocery store, restaurant or gas station.

The system provides live information about when and where people are shopping and their proximity to a retail partner that carries Pepsi’s products.  When a Foursquare user is near a Pepsi retailer, an offer to enroll that person in a Pepsi rewards system will appear. Once enrolled, whenever they check in at a retailer selling Pepsi product they will accumulate rewards points or badges to later redeem for product or offers or donate to charity.

For brands like Pepsi that typically rely heavily on their retail partners to drive product sales, they now have a way to engage directly with the consumer.

So how big is this market anyway?

A recent study by Juniper Research says that nearly 1.5 billion people will be using LBS by 2014, with a global market worth $12.7bn worldwide.

Will consumers be receptive to offers from these brands?  The answer appears to be turning favourable.

Mobile audience media company JiWire’s Q1 2010 collected data from 2000 users across 289,000 US wi-fi locations, finding that 53% of users would be happy to share their current location on a mobile device to receive relevant advertising.  Two-thirds of those surveyed also said that they frequently use apps on their smartphones that require them to set a location in order to receive other content, and 76% of those users are leaning much closer towards ad-supported free apps rather than paid-for services.

So, the message for brands is simple – LBS are here now, and growing quickly.  If you’re seeking ways to engage directly with consumers, be it though an app or a service, get with your agency and figure out a strategy for your company today.

Spring Brings New Purpose

May 13th, 2010

It’s been some time since my last blog posting and a great deal has changed since then.  First of all I am no longer with Vex Canada.  I have decided to share my knowledge of WiFi, advertising and location-based services on a full-time basis with the broader community.

To this end, I will now be blogging weekly on these subjects, speaking at conferences, briefing agencies and conducting market research.

I look forward to engaging with as many people as possible, so if you’re seeking answers to burning questions on any of these topics feel free to contact me and we’ll start the dialogue.

Cheers,

Asif