Alright class, time for a pop quiz: What do the following three scenarios all have in common?
You’re reading the morning news on your e-reader when a coupon pops up for a new doughnut shop down the street from you.
You “check in” on Foursquare when you arrive at the airport and discover a friend you haven’t seen for years is checking in at the same terminal.
You update Twitter while at a cafe and a map shows precisely where you were the moment you sent the tweet.
Answer: All relate to geolocation (or geo marketing).
Some are saying that geolocation services and networks will be the defining trend of 2010, much like microblogging dominated past years. Twitter announced its geolocation services right before the annual South by Southwest conference (SXSW), and rival geolocation mobile apps Foursquare and Gowalla both had their boxing gloves on, vying for attention at SXSW too.
The list of geolocation players goes on. Social media behemoth Facebook plans to unveil a new location-based feature in late April at f8, the company’s yearly developer conference, as The New York Times reported (SEE *UPDATE BELOW). Then there’s Google Latitude, which hit the scene in 2009 with the pitch, “See where your friends are right now.” Yahoo has OneConnect, which will feature “proximity alerts” when friends using the service come within a certain distance of one another. And of course there are hoards of other geo-based start-ups ready to pounce ( including MyTown, Whrrl, Loopt, PlacePop, BlockChalk, Bump, FoodSpotting and Graffiti).
The Challenges and Potential of the Geolocation Giant
Geolocation represents a movement for consumers and marketers alike. As Dave Curry reported in the article How to Survive Geolocation’s Looming Apocalypse on Adage.com:
“Research firm Borrel forecasts that location-based mobile spending will hit $4 billion in 2015, an increase of nearly 12,000% from the $34 million spent in 2009. With highly anticipated location-centric announcements looming from both Facebook and Apple, the buzz over geolocation is not expected to diminish any time soon.”
On a similar note, Caroline McCarthy reported on cnet.com that location-aware services are not only primed to be the next “game-changer,” they are also poised to “serve up advertisements that give ‘hyperlocal’ a whole new meaning.”
Despite the fireworks though, there are some hitches. McCarthy points out a number of concerns that are likely to stymie the geolocation movement, including technology barriers (not everyone has a Smartphone you know. . .) as well as privacy concerns. In his AdAge article, Curry also recognizes the possibility of a “geolocation apocalypse,” citing “swarms of geolocation services,” “armies of aimless apps,” and a “deluge of data” as potential downfalls. . . if geo-based services and marketing is not pursued tactfully.
Curry offers several suggestions to keep geolocation technology moving in the right direction, including embracing open APIs that enable marketers and app developers to build on top of existing services.
Opening the Floodgates
There’s no question that geolocation services and technology will continue to advance. Will that mean more meaningful ways for people to connect with their friends and virtual network? Or is it an invitation for marketers to make advertising even more ubiquitous than it already is? The potential for both is there, though the answer remains to be seen.
*UPDATE: Facebook did not announce any location-based services at the f8 developer conference. Fast Company reports, “Zuckerberg declined to speak in much detail about future location plans, except to confirm that it is being worked on.” Read about other highlights from the f8 developer conference here: Crib Sheet: Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook f8 Keynote.
So, now geolocation gives you one MORE thing to think about when it comes to marketing and promoting your brand. And you know the inevitable question: Is there an app for that?! Let us help. . . Filter has an array of talented app developers who are always up for a challenge. Let’s chat!