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Sometimes Size Matters

TomTom Via 620

TomTom have just launched a new 6″ car navigation unit packed with features and a big, high-resolution display that will become a must for truck drivers, people with big hands, or whose eyesight means that a the new big clear display will allow them to relax a bit more when they are driving.

It also comes with 12 quarterly GeoSmart map updates and a free map of Australia. Find out more about it on our Facebook page.

TomTom also came up with some interesting research that whilst most Kiwi’s dream of having a tropical island holiday, nearly half of Kiwis (48%) prefer to have their holiday in New Zealand, followed by Australia (21%). The Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Auckland being the hotspot destinations.

Here come the surprises from TomTom Public Relations Manager Asia-Pacific, Valerie Cross from an international survey:

  • New Zealander’s appear to be the least nature-loving holiday-makers in the world with the smallest amount (14%) of respondents saying they go on holiday to commune with nature.
  • A Kiwi’s favourite part of the holiday appears to be shopping with 66% of respondents keen to browse the shops, over options like visiting beaches (58%) and restaurants (54%).
  • New Zealanders are also some of the easily frustrated when they get lost (22%), nearly twice the global average (13%) and only a close second to our Aussie neighbours (24%).

Ms Cross knocked the hammer squarely on the head, (especially for the Kiwi male) noting “It’s a real Kiwi trait not to ask for help when travelling by car.

Of course our GeoSmart maps road data and Points of Interest are continually being updated with everything from beaches and bays, parking and rest areas, public toilets and ATM’s through to every kind of shop, attraction, place to stay and much more. Your nav really is your travel partner, calmly guiding you to your destination so that you can relax and enjoy your stress free trip.

 

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July 4, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Australia Maps, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, new zealand maps, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lots of Requests for Accurate New Zealand Geocoding

We have been getting a lot of companies come to us for geocoding services lately. What is geocoding? Essentially it is generating accurate coordinates for a location or street address.

This can be really important if the locations are used in a GPS based device and especially where routing or directions are involved. For example it is often not practical for vehicles to zigzag from one side of the road to another. It may be impossible because of median barriers, difficult because of heavy traffic, or the vehicle could be one that must stay on one side of the road, for example a rubbish truck. Another classic situation would be where the address is given as Corner of X and Y Streets. That could be any one of four or more corners, which could have significant implications on routing and another time waster for people on the road.

GeoSmart has driven most roads to sub half a meter accuracy which means that when we provide coordinates they will be on the correct side of the road. We have seen frequent examples of map providers who use source maps which are not spatially accurate, which can often result in the road being displaced to the point that both odd and even numbers are shown as being on the wrong side of the road.

We have a number of services on offer. We have API’s which allow an application to look up addresses using an auto-completer. This is particularly good for accounting software, CRM and other applications, allowing companies to get the full information correct first time, right into the application. We never cease to be amazed at how bad some companies record keeping of addresses is for their clients. This may not be a problem when the same person calls on them for years, but when change happens, it can become a major time waster, especially in a country with so many duplicate place names. Go to http://www.aamaps.co.nz and see how many instances of Queen Street there are just in Auckland City!

We have a geocode web service and also a Software as a Service (SaaS) application which allows you to upload a CSV file of addresses. It will resolve them including looking at incorrect spelling, vanity (e.g. where someone says Remuera, but technically they are in Newmarket) or incorrect suburbs and much more. The results include Post Code ane even Census data such as Mesh Block and the ability to export to GIS in MapInfo format.Results are ranked based on the result, for example if you look for 21A X Street and we don’t have 21A, but we do have 21 X Street, it will show as a sub 100% result and an explanation that we believe that result is correct. The same if a name is misspelled or perhaps it was entered as 21 X Street when it should have been 21 X Avenue.

The application also allows you to modify the location by moving an icon on the map yourself. For example a property may have multiple entrances, or the location may not even be on a street. It could be a building in a park, or a location within a large complex such as a hospital, university or shopping mall. We offer the flexibility of doing it yourself and being able to interpret it yourself according to your needs, without requiring GIS software or skills.

Having driven pretty much every road in New Zealand with our mapping car in most cases to sub 1 meter accuracy, we are able to offer a degree of quality not available anywhere else.

In addition to a very attractive pricing model, we are a local company in your time zone, we have developers that you can talk to and are very passionate about all things location.

To top it off, we are a wholly owned subsidiary of the New Zealand Automobile Association which is of course committed to New Zealand motorists and all revenues are retained in New Zealand.

Want to know more. Why not contact us and be pleasantly surprised about how easy it is to use and of course affordable.

P.S. We can offer the same services for Australia.

June 27, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Australia Maps, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, driving directions, Geocoding, geosmart, GIS, gps, map tools, Mapping Applications, new zealand maps, systems integrator, Web Map | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Are You? Mobile Apps For Finding Family and People at Risk

For a long time we have been encouraging our business partners to look at developing applications and devices to track elderly people, people with memory impaired conditions such as dementia, blind, autistic and others. There have been many challenges in this area because these devices are often a little on the bulky side and need daily charging due to the power constraints of batteries used for communications and GPS. Designing devices that are appealing such as bracelets, necklaces that people are prepared to wear has been a challenge. That development goes on and we hope that in the next year or so, we will see some success and demand from the market.

There is of course another huge market segment where mobiles are used. We are starting to see a number of applications like Pingbot, which we mentioned on our Facebook Page. This uses location based services including GPS to identify the location of a person’s mobile, with their permission of course. Effectively with Pingbot, the owner of the mobile has a secret word, effectively like a password that the user can share with those trusted people who may need to be able to find them. Obvious users would be children (most teenage children would not go anywhere without a mobile today), people with some form of disability, injury or medical risk, such as allergies or requiring medication, they may have forgotten to take with them. It could also be a social, sport or other reason for people to be able to find each other, such as a buddy finder environment. The idea of Pingbot is that all you need to do is send an SMS message with the secret word in order to find the location of that person.

GeoSmart has the web services and API’s to help developers create these types of solution in New Zealand and Australia. This includes highly accurate mapping, accurate turn by turn directions via the fastest route and services such as Reverse GeoCoding, which allows you to send a set of coordinates to our servers, which will return the nearest street address to that location.

These sorts of applications were difficult to market in the past because most people didn’t have mobiles with GPS. Today is a different story. It’s almost difficult to find a mobile in a retail store today that does not have GPS. We’d like to hear from developers who would like to help find that child that didn’t get home, the diabetic who went out without their insulin, or the blind person who has become disoriented. We offer a Developer Agreement for free and are local, in your time zone, with real people you can talk to about your application development.

May 27, 2012 Posted by | Australia Maps, geosmart, gps, location based services, Mapping Applications, new zealand maps, Reverse Geocoding, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gamification, Sustainability and Feeding a Local Community

Designers Chacha Sikes and programmer Anselm Hook created an exciting online application during the Creative Currency hackathon in San Francisco recently. Called Lemonopoly, the concept is that people can locate lemon trees in their community on a map.

The idea is to involve the community is various ways. It may be to help people look after the trees, to be able to share the fruit with other people in the community or perhaps the opportunity for people to sell their lemons. This could work nicely here with organic fruit in conjunction with Giapo, who would of course pay for them in Giapo dollars that people can redeem for their wonderful ice creams and gelato.

A story in Springwise says “Users score points for their team when they add a tree to the map, add a tree that produces edible fruit, share lemons from a tree they own, offer to teach others how to aid lemon distribution and team up with a grocery willing to sell local fruit. ”

People can also win points by offering services such as picking and pruning, making marmalade etc.

This is a great way for people to be motivated to get more involved in their local community and the gamification aspects make it attractive, tying people in to the concept. We would love to support local initiatives in developing concepts like this using GeoSmart web map and development tools across New Zealand and Australia. We offer free Developer Agreements and flexible commercial models for developers. Something like this would make a brilliant mobile application supporting local communities.

 

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Australia, Gamification, geosmart, gps, location based services, new zealand, Social Media, Sustainability, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maps Are Not All Equal

There are reasons why smart car navigation companies use GeoSmart data on their devices. The reasons are that often near enough is not good enough. This week we have seen a good example of this, which was followed up in the news media.

On Wednesday the Otago Daily Times published a story with the headline GPS systems send Peninsula tourists off track. It quoted a Senior Constable who said that tourists were being guided onto paper roads and dirt tracks by car navigation systems and certainly into areas not suitable for most vehicles.

An example given was that people were trying to drive all the way to the seal colony shown on the map here, via Cape Saunders Rd. As you can see on our map, that isn’t possible, but there appears to be a paper road on some car nav products (obviously not using GeoSmart Maps) that say you can.

Because we are the premier supplier of quality car navigation map data for New Zealand, the obvious query came to GeoSmart for some clarification on this. We are the market leader in car navigation in New Zealand because of the quality of data. We have quality data because we are local and because we have invested heavily for over 12 years in having quality data for car navigation. We have a map room full of people who are committed to having up to date information on our maps including eliminating paper roads, maintaining speed zones, current information on Points of Interest, turn restrictions such as 1-way streets, no left turns, median barriers and also what we know as implicit turn restrictions, which is where a large vehicle may not be able to safely complete a turn even if it is legal to do so. As a consequence, brands like TomTom and Navman use our information in order to ensure that their valued users do get quality instructions.

I received a call from the journalist who wrote a follow up story for the NZ Herald with the headline Don’t just go where the GPS says – if it looks like a paddock it probably is one. I explained that when we first decided to become a car navigation map provider, partnering with brands such as Navman, Siemens VDO and BMW, we processed the Government data (which was never designed for guidance) and found that it was not suitable for car navigation. There were huge numbers of paper roads (roads that have been drafted but not (yet) constructed and situations where entire settlements were 60-80 or more metres away from where the maps said they were.

We then set out to drive every public road in New Zealand, getting accurate data with the technology of the day, eliminating the paper roads and at the same time getting key information such as speed zones, road class, points of interest including things like rest areas, ATM’s, public toilets as well as business, tourism and travel, hospitality, sport etc. Today we continue to drive, capturing a road centreline at sub 1 meter accuracy as well as information such as the incline of the road for eco-routing and the angle of the camber on corners for future truck safety systems and of course real time traffic which can be found online at AA Maps, AA Roadwatch and AA Journey Times and is of course used by TomTom and Navman.

A key issue that we have identified in recent times is that a lot of car navigation users don’t realise that they need to update their maps regularly. In New Zealand roads are changing continually. They are road realignments, new motorways, new subdivisions, suburbs and settlements being built all the time. Roundabouts get replaced with traffic lights and traffic lights get replaced with roundabouts and it never ends. GeoSmart does a new update each and every quarter, 4 times a year and they are all significant updates. Just because you have a navigation unit that is only 6 months old, doesn’t mean that it has the latest data. Even if you have just bought a unit brand new, it is worth plugging it in to your computer to see if there is a new map available.

The acid test is www.aamaps.co.nz. This also gets updated every 3 months. If a road or segment is on AA Maps, then it is in our data and will either be in the latest car nav map for the brands that use our data, or is about to be. If it isn’t on AA Maps, then we are probably adding it, but we would love to hear from you just in case. All you need to do is click on the feedback button on the AA Maps web page, select the type of feedback you want to give us and the information will go to the appropriate team member. We are Kiwis, we live here and we take pride in the quality of our data and want you to enjoy your motoring.

April 13, 2012 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, navman, new zealand maps, satnav, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How we are helping the future greening of New Zealand

A couple of statements by David J. LePoire drawn from his essay “Beyond (Conventional) Renewable Energy?” caught my eye this morning. He said that “If energy use had grown as fast as the economy, the United States would be using an estimated 60% more energy than it does now. We’ve improved energy use in buildings, electrical appliances, cars and industrial processes. These applications are often motivated by cost savings.” There are often stories about how companies who focus on sustainability in a concerted way will become more profitable as a result, but often there is little information on where the increased profitability will come from.

There has been a lot of discussion about how green New Zealand really is and which initiatives are going to help us go forward in the way I believe most Kiwis want toThe elections are close and the parties are all telling us what their policies are going to be.

Meanwhile there are many companies who are just working business as usual with an eye to a better future. GeoSmart is one of those companies. So what are we doing?

First, we have driven every road in New Zealand for many years, but in the last few years we have been driving with phenomenal technology put together in New Zealand by Kiwis, which allows us to map New Zealand roads to sub 1 metre accuracy even when there is GPS shadow or at times (not uncommon particularly in the South Island) where there is no GPS sugnal available at all for periods of time. Tests show that we tend to be accurate to around 15cm which is as good as I believe you can get without having surveyors and laser theodolites on the ground.

This in itself means that we are able to provide highly accurate data to users of our routing web services, such as AA Maps and mobile applications such as Rugby2GO. It means that people will not be sent up paper roads that don’t exist, confirms speed zones and intersection controls and other information that doesn’t always get provided to us by the authorities.

Quality routing means that people can get the best routing information to meet their needs. For example the shortest route is often not the fastest.

We also collect road inclinometer. That is the rate of incline on hills, of which we of course have many in New Zealand. Our car navigation clients are getting more involved in eco-routing which means you can choose the route which will consume the least fuel. That means that effectively, irrespective of what type of car you drive, you can save money while also helping to save our environment.

We are also collecting data about the camber or angle of the corners. Because of the volatile nature of our country with frequent earthquakes, floods and slips, geothermal activity, the condition of corners may change. When a corner changes and noone knows about it, this can be the cause of serious accidents, such as with large trucks and trailors who may be obeying the speed advisory signs, but the conditions have changed since they were set. We are working with sophisticated Fleet Management companies who are going to use this data, combined with their knowledge of their clients’ vehicle set ups, roll over specifications and load information to alert drivers that they may be going too fast for the conditions of the road. This can save insurance conmpanies millions of dollars, not to mention reducing the inconvenience of motorists having to deal with travel delays as the incidents are examined and detours put in place.

Another major area for us is real time traffic. You are probably aware that we built and maintain the AA Roadwatch website and and provide services including real time accident, incident and congestion data throughout New Zealand and Australia to major car navigation brands. AA Spokesperson Simon Lambourne was quoted in an article in the NZ Herald earlier this week that studies have shown that “when 10 per cent of drivers use real-time traffic information to avoid jams, journey times drop 5 per cent for everyone.” Find out more about AA Traffic by GeoSmart here.

Route optimisation is becoming more important. We have written a number of blogs on this topic and more and more companies are coming to us to use this service and variations of it. Essentially  if a person has a number of sites to stop at during a day’s work, our SaaS application Route2GO Lite geocodes and calculates the best order to make those visits in, to drive the least amount of time via the most efficient route. This results in increased productivity and reduced overheads. It is also sustainable. Are you able to tell your clients that your business uses technology to benefit the environment as well as the company’s bottom line and provide better service to boot?

Talk to us about how we can help you become more sustainable whilst increasing profit.

November 7, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, Australia, Business Tools, car navigation, carbon footprint, driving directions, geosmart, gps, Mapping Applications, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, route optimisation, Route2GO, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, SaaS, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Location in Loyalty Cards

Loyalty cards haven’t fundamentally changed the way they do business for many years. There are the fans and the people who actively look for deals, but most of the people we have spoken to recently have said that the time they realise there is an opportunity is when they are at the checkout and the cashier asks if they have their Fly Buys or whatever card. This obviously is not generating increased sales or revenue.

There are huge opportunities for loyalty cards to exploit location with the large number of people now using Smartphones fitted with GPS. Effectively a Smartphone application can therefore identify when a card holder is near a store or participating retailer and can potentially be offered a deal using push technology. We are hugely spoiled for choice these days as retailers flock near each other to try to win your business. For example, if you go to AA Maps and do a search for ‘Hardware Albany’ you will come up with 48 results! That’s a huge range of options in one area within around a 5km radius.

Albany Homes Owner Occupied 70% or Over

A large number of these retailers spend a lot of money on advertising in newspapers, magazines, letter box drops, eDm’s and much more. Many of them are involved in loyalty card programs which provide additional opportunities for targeted marketing. These are all very expensive media and the approach uses often sophisticated targetting using demographics tools, such as GeoSmart’s BIonaMap discussed in a number of our blogs such as this one using demographics for a lawn mowing franchise. By understanding what your target market is, you can identify the best place to locate your store and which areas are best for letter box marketing. Of course success requires that your target market is open to buy and looking for your product.

If a consumer is looking for a lawn mower and your mailer arrives in their letter box, there is the potential that they will visit your store, but how often do they buy lawn mowers and how often do they read your mail drop? The example illustrated here shows homes where the owner occupancy is 70% or greater, a perfect target for DIY sales using BIonaMAP from GeoSmart.

In coming blogs I will post examples of how a loyalty card smartphone application using GPS location could integrate with retail Point of Sale systems, inventory management and really understand what a customer is looking for, sending meaningful offers to consumers when they are looking for product and are in proximity. If you make things easy for customers and have a meaningful relationship with you, they will buy your products over your competitors products, but to effectively do that, you (your technology systems) really do need to understand who your customers are and what their needs and interests are. They want to give you their money and it isn’t necessarily about special pricing.

Where should you start? Probably by asking what your loyalty card company is doing about proximity based marketing and check ins (which we have discussed frequently on this blog). GeoSmart is keen to support local loyalty card companies and application developers and we are convinced that there are huge opportunities to really bring in serious retail profits and the opportunity to develop genuine loyalty relationships. Who wants an unfair advantage? If that’s you, why not contact us?

Feel free to ask questions here or to leave a comment. Bookmark this page for upcoming blogs on how a loyalty card company can use this technology to help their partners win more business.

September 19, 2011 Posted by | Business Analytics, Check Ins, geosmart, gps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Location is Going Places

Obviously we would love to be writing more blogs about how our clients and partners are writing location-based apps using GeoSmart Maps API’s and Web Services and how we are helping the discover new ways to use location for proximity based marketing, location-based games (read future proximity based marketing), location-based education and  much more.The good news is that there are many new projects happening and more announcements to come next week from our camp.

There are companies who automatically go to global map providers because they perceive there is no difference and maps are pretty much all the same. To those people I say, go and have a look at the new Upper Harbour Motorway on AA Maps (one of our clients) using GeoSmart Maps and then check any other map provider on the web or on a mobile application. It’s only one of many locations we update as they happen because we are local and we care about providing the best data to our clients and to New Zealand motorists, but it is pretty major if you travel between west and north Auckland.

So this blog is for those of you who are wanting to develop applications using quality maps and location-based data, because we want to keep you informed and share great ideas with you and help you achieve your goals, whatever your business models and budgets may be.

One of the areas that I think is huge is proximity based marketing. If you are running loyalty programs, you really need to think about what you are doing. If they are working well, then we say they could be working much better, if they are not performing the way you would like, you should talk to us about how we can help, because location is our bread and butter.

As we have discussed before, the marriage of social media and location is really going places. I’d like to mention a couple of recent developments relevant to the many blogs here.

Foursquare

Now obviously Foursquare is global and needs more than the excellent New Zealand and Australian Maps we provide, but they are really showing the way to develop successful check in software. Want to know more about check ins and Foursquare have a look at more of the blogs on this site.

One of the things that people have been asking about is how to push a message to people based on their proximity. In effect, rather than have people open up Foursquare and look for deals and promotions near you, what people have been asking me about almost daily is how do we push an alert to people, rather than have them stumble on opportunities.

Now Foursquare has their own very popular application and I hope to hear that their latest announcement appears on their own application as well as the API’s they offer to developers. The Foursquare global hackathon starts tomorrow and it has een whispered on many sites around the world that one of the new features to be launched there is a Push API.

What does this mean? Well effectively it is an opportunity for developers to look at ways to send push messages to people using their applications using the Foursquare API’s. During the hackathon there will be competitions to see who can come up with the best applications using this functionality over the week. It could be almost anything and I’m hoping that this will provide our local New Zealand developers with ideas as to what they can do using these concepts. A few ideas being floated include:

  • Your mobile shopping list reminds you that you haven’t bought the milk and you are passing your local grocery store.
  • You are at a bar or restaurant and your app tells you that you have friends nearby. You can notify them where you are and get them to join you.
  • Your restaurant has empty seats and you have loyalty customers nearby, send them an invitation with tonight’s specials
  • Your loyalty card has double points today and you are about to pass your favourite Petrol Station, DIY, Clothing, Consumer Electronics store

Obviously we have much cooler ideas in our treasure chest to share with our clients, but you get the idea I hope. This is one of the missing links and is going to turn the concept of check-ins on its ear in my humble opinion. Now you don’t need to use Foursquare for this, although I’m not saying you shouldn’t. Personally I’d like to see these sorts of things being developed and proven locally in the way good Kiwi entrepreneurs do, with support from GeoSmart and then shipped overseas generating export revenues.

We have clever and passionate people here and sometimes it frustrates me that companies developing applications around locality instantly go to American or other map providers who aren’t passionate about New Zealand aren’t keeping their maps up to date and don’t have local resources to help. OK, I’m off my soap box people.

September 15, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, Auckland, Australia, Australia Maps, channel partner, Check Ins, competition, competitions, foursquare, geosmart, gps, ICT, Indoor Navigation, iphone, lbs, lbs games, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, Social Media, social networking, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GPS Car Navigation for Rugby Tourists to New Zealand with Global iPhone and iPad First

There’s a world championship event going on in New Zealand right now with rugby teams competing for a major cup. Many of the tourists who have arrived in New Zealand or are coming over for the rugby matches have iPhones and or iPads. They may be staying in Auckland or the region the national team they are supporting is based and don’t want to buy a complete car navigation device or a map set for the whole country when they are only staying for days or weeks.

The thing with the iPhone or iPad is that it is one of those ubiquitous devices that you keep on your person and navigation isn’t necessarily just about being a driver. It might be about being confident that the way the taxi is taking you is the quickest, or how do I get to the Fan Zone or Rugby Stadium or perhaps one of the REAL NZ Festival events.

MetroView Systems Pty Limited from Australia has come up with an excellent solution using GeoSmart car navigation maps and Points of Interest data, called MetroView NZ City. Because they are a local (Australasian) company, they are nimble and were able to come up with a product well suited for the rugby tourist, or in fact any tourist visiting New Zealand. Of course there are many Kiwis who don’t need all of New Zealand either, but a real key opportunity is that if you are only coming over for days or weeks. NZ$9.95 for true GPS car navigation on a device you already own is great value. That’s less than the price of 3 cups of coffee!

The application, which you can buy from the Apple Appstore has all the Points of Interest a rugby fan is looking for, but lots of great features around the iPhone and iPad as well. For example you can listen to and control your music and podcasts right from within the application using the iPad/iPhone button. If you have appointments (with an address)  in your mobile’s calendar, you can navigate directly to them, the same applies to your contacts list. Your music will automatically mute if there is a navigation instruction.

It is likely that the concept of buying maps for a single city will become more common in other countries but you saw it here first in New Zealand with GeoSmart data and MetroView software. Of course it isn’t just about the rugby, it is full car navigation with the features you are used to using. If you are planning a visit to New Zealand and want to find your way around on your iPhone or iPad, check out this product. I think you’ll find it very useful.

And all the best to your team, I hope they do really well, maybe even second if you’re not supporting the All Blacks;p

Metroview NZ City

September 14, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Australia, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, iphone, location based services, map tools, maps, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, Rugby, satnav, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Check Ins

We were at the Auckland ICT meeting a couple of night’s ago and it was interesting to corroborate our experience in the field with associates that there is both a chasm between people in the ICT industry and even their own friends and family in retail and other bricks and mortar industry when it comes to use of social media and proximity based marketing.

A couple of us presented at the Mobile Marketing Forum last month and felt that we were preaching to the converted and disappointed that only 4 bricks and mortar companies attended the conference when they were potentially the ones with the most to gain from being there. Generally what we found was that businesses either didn’t have a clue what checking in means, or if they did, don’t make the time to understand and utilise what could be a much better tool for them than dumping stock on daily deal type sites.

So here is a tiny bit of Check In 101:

Fundamentally the concept of checking in is to use a mobile application on a smart phone that is location aware, such as Foursquare, to register that the user is at a particular location such as a landmark or a business / shop. The location is verified using GPS or GPS assisted technology in the mobile. There are gaming elements such as badges or points and often tangible rewards such as discounts. People that visit a particular location enough times gain the title of Mayor of that location.

What is interesting and most retail business operators aren’t aware of is that this takes place, whether or not they are personally involved, which means people are entering their businesses and creating marketing opportunities, but are not being engaged in this medium. Most applications allow people to leave comments or tips, make ‘friends’ who are also allowed to see their location and make recommendations which could be positive, but could also be very negative. This means that even if the proprietor can’t make time to use these tools to engage and attract business, they may be losing business without knowing it as well. A simple comment such as “The toilets are clean here:(” or “The line was so long, I went next door” could cost not only immediate business, but steer people away long into the future.

The applications typically have interfaces to social media applications such as Twitter and Facebook, so the comments, recommendations and otherwise are creating a digital footprint that can be difficult if not impossible to remove.

Recent statistics from Comscore this year suggest that around 16.7 million individual people in the USA checked in to locations using Foursquare and similar applications over the first 3 months. This represents around 7% of the total mobile population. Recent statistics in June 2011 suggest that the UK and Western Europe currently sits at around 5%. That is a lot of people. People just like them may be in the area and walking right past your business.

July 22, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Business Tools, Check Ins, Distribution, geosmart, gps, lbs, location based services, Mapping Applications, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, ROI, social networking, software, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment