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Socialisation Game Mechanics on Loyalty Cards

In our last blog I wrote about achievements such as points or rewards and the appointment dynamic. Another aspect that is very powerful is socialisation. There are many aspects to this including profiling, recommendations and forums and using the appointment dynamic to get more people in the same place.

There are many for and against aspects to profiling and it is happening from a Google level down to individual retailers. It is very important if you are profiling to correctly interpret information and to ensure that if you are doing it in a loyalty environment that the loyalty members understand what you are doing and that they have given their permission.

I have said on many occasions that done in the right way, combining educated opt in, location, interests and open to buy is very powerful. As I’ve said before, if Borders (I have  VIP Card on my key ring) sent me a notification saying that the new Stephen King Book 11/22/63 is in store and they will hold a copy for me with a special promotional offer for the next half hour, knowing that I am in the neighbourhood, I will probably go and buy it.

However, if they sent me the same message about the latest top 10 recommendations of a certain radio host were in stock, I would probably opt out of their service, even though I may at some stage have bought one of those books as a gift for my wife.

There are many ways to mine data about what people are buying and it doesn’t have to be down to product level, category level would be very powerful, and it amazes me that retailers don’t use this as a tool.

Profiling needs to be relatively smart and needs Business Analysts able to interpret information and look for trends and not make assumptions on the basis of one or two retail or other destination visits. Buying a hammer doesn’t make me a handyman, but buying tools on a regular basis would constitute a trend. Of course where someone lives can also be a valuable pointer and our new BIonaMAP application that I’ve blogged about before can provide valuable information in looking at trends from multiple people, especially when combined with data from the Department of Statistics Census which the application supports and Mesh Block and Area unit level.

Recommendations are powerful. In 2009 Nielsen’s released the results of a study that said that 90% of consumers trusted recommendations from people they know, 70% trusted recommendations from people who post them online and 24% trusted text ads that appeared on their mobiles. There are many ways to encourage people to comment on products or locations in a mobile environment. Some organisations worry about what people will say about them, but if that is the case, perhaps they have some work to do and better to know what they are saying and be able to engage with them, or as was agreed at the last Social Media Club meeting in Auckland, the common scenario is that if someone criticises a business in an online forum, others very quickly come to its defence. In a closed environment it is of course much easier to encourage the behaviour you are looking for from participants by providing them with the value they want. This can be done by rewards such as points for participation, bribes such as prizes and by engaging and showing an interest in them.

It has been expressed to me that social media requires additional resources and expertise often not available within destination businesses, particularly retail. Yes it does, the key cost is time and you do need someone who knows what they are doing, but what does traditional advertising cost. If you buy a reasonable sized advertisement in a newspaper, or get an agency to generate letter box mail, what does it cost for creative, artwork, printing and distribution? How many hours of a person’s time would that buy? It’s just another tool and the great thing is that to test the market using services like Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter is that you can try them for free. Add location in an app or mobile web site does involve cost, but done well the return can be huge.

Socialisation offers many more exciting opportunities, but to find out what I am talking about, you will have to come back for the next blog. Please feel free to add your comments in the meantime.

September 27, 2011 Posted by | Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Data Mining, Loyalty Card, proximity based marketing, Retail, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 10

Wow, where did the year go? This has been a huge year for GeoSmart and 10 looks to be equally exciting.  If you want to catch up with us, you have a few hours before we close for summer holidays. We re-open on 11 January.

The big one for the year just gone has to be AA Traffic. This was a long time in the planning and it has been very exciting for us to set up this real time traffic service covering all of New Zealand. Have you tried it yet? Check the Traffic web site before you go on holiday.  You will find that we have extended the free email and txt alerts until the end of January. You may have finished work, but accidents and other incidents don’t go on holiday. On the traffic page you will also find that we have Cook Straight Ferries as well as domestic and international airline departures and arrivals for Auckland and Christchurch airports.

If you set up a free account, you can have Roadwatch automatically open up to the area you live, work or play in so that you can see if there is anything you need to know about. Road works and ramp closures can be really frustrating, so this is a good place to keep an eye out for anything that might get in your way. They are time sensitive, so it is worth looking at before you get in the car, you can also click on Upcoming Events, to see if there is anything happening in the future that might make you want to change your plans.

If you haven’t already, you will see that our AA Maps website is continuously evolving with new features.  One of my favourites is the proximity feature. Pick an address or Point of Interest and you will see that you can now look for something within a 5km radius. For example if you were going to Rotorua for Christmas, you could look for  restaurants or bars within walking distance of your accommodation. You can also plan an entire itinerary, and drag and drop and drop the stops to help you fit more into your time while saving gas and carbon emissions. You can plan your trip, drag the route on the map to change the roads you will drive on and print it all out to take in the car. Of course you can view AA Traffic incidents and web cams on AA Maps as well, which again makes it a great site to check before you hop in your car.

We are thrilled to be able to give people who buy new Navman car navigation devices between December and January a free Lifetime License to AA Traffic. This is the ultimate way to get your traffic alerts. We are currently broadcasting in the greater Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch areas and more will be added in the new year. This totally changes the concept of GPS and car navigation. You can set it so that it only warns you if there is an incident on your route and gives you the option to accept an alternate route avoiding the incident. Who wants to spend their holiday stuck in their cars in a line behind an accident you could have avoided? You might have avoided buying nav because you know your way around, but you would never have known that the road was blocked ahead for the next 4 hours due to a serious accident. You will also love the ability to find your nearest petrol station, ATM, cafe etc, or perhaps a rest area, or a dump site for your campervan. And when the kids ask “Are we nearly there yet?” You can say, “we will be there in 17 minutes”:)

Of course we love our partners TomTom very much too. Their IQ Routes (which of course uses our road data)  has even surprised me on occasion in finding a new way to drive home, that I had never thought of. Other than AA Traffic, they share all the same excellent information that our other car navigation partners do.

We continue to add new data to our car nav solutions including 3D buildings, lane guidance and enhanced Points of Interest data. Car nav is a never ending part of our product development and we stay aware of all the new developments and features that our partners are planning so that we can offer the best possible data for New Zealand going forward. Of course our data collection and driving never end. The RAPIDcV continues to collect lots of valuable data and we have some exciting plans for enhancing this in the new year.

We have joined the adoption of social networking with a Facebook Fan Page where we are engaging with the public with competitions and discussion related to traffic issues. We also have a Twitter page, which we use in a similar way to share information and develop a community of people interested in supporting our efforts to share up to date information.

We have a number of new web mapping clients and several more that will go live early in the new year. For businesses who want quality map data, routing and access to our extensive Points of Interest database, our data is updated 11 times a year making sure that you can rely on our products. We feature some of those sites on our home page.

We launched the new Route2GO web service, which was a long time coming. We have so many companies who have been waiting for this and are very exciting to see new 3rd party solutions being developed that will help businesses with route optimisation as well as calculation of fair pricing for freight and travel costs. Whether it is a large transport company, a taxi service or a furniture shop with a single van, we now have a solution that will make life easy for you. We are working with and seeking new partners who would like to integrate these tools into their solutions for their clients as our model is to work with partners, not to compete with our clients in developing end user products.

There have been exciting developments in Fleet Management and we have had many new companies join us this year for everything from vehicle tracking to Road User Charges, with a number starting to adopt the concept of digital hubometers. RUC is here to stay and with over 80% of Fleet Management companies using our data, it would be fair to say that it is the standard.

We are working on many off shore projects and you will hear our name much more often outside of New Zealand, mostly with partners. A major part of our IP is the knowledge of how to build quality map datasets and then provide web services and API’s around this data.

We ran the Location Innovation Awards and in May we sent the lucky winner to the USA to attend the Where 2.0 Conference. We are going to run the 2010 Location Innovation Awards and have already had some exciting offers of sponsorship in prizes and technical support. We are changing the timing  this year to make it easy for our university partners to fit the Awards into their calendar, as we were very excited about the work that many students, especially at Massey University prepared. New Zealand has a huge amount of untapped talent and we look forward to helping the legends of the future make themselves known. Location Based Services are going to hit their straps in the next couple of years and you will see the GeoSmart name a lot in this context.

If you haven’t seen them, we now have regular e-newsletters. We used to print them, but print means cutting down trees and isn’t as multidimensional. You can find them here and also subscribe if you would like them in your inbox.

If you are still with me, thanks for reading this blog. There was much more activity that I could tell you about, but it’s time to take a deep breath and recharge, ready for the most exciting year yet in 10. I hope that you will be a part of that with us as I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and warm happy holidays. Thanks to everyone at GeoSmart and our many partners for helping to make this year the success it has been. We look forward to catching up with you soon.

December 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AA Traffic is here

For the last year we have been flat out developing our Real Time Traffic solution, aka AA Traffic. This has been a huge undertaking with so many elements involved. As you may know, GeoSmart is a wholly owned subsidiary of the New Zealand Automobile Association. NZAA is the first and only motoring association in the world so far to own a mapping company and thereby have access to its own mapping data and the ability to create solutions.

One of the biggest issues today is traffic and as a motoring association, an incorporated society owned by its members who are motorists, a key concern for it is to keep motorists moving. This presents a problem in a country where there appear to be more cars than people. In Auckland particularly, traffic issues are compounded by the many people who feel that the public transport system doesn’t meet their needs. That’s without taking into consideration the current bus strikes in Auckland which have seen some schools missing 15% of the students today. In August Michael Barnett, Chairman of the Auckland Business Forum quoted comments in the NZ Herald of 10 years ago that then the time-cost to business for Auckland was around $1 billion!

AA Traffic by GeoSmart was not designed to solve problems, rather to inform road users and give them information that will help them decide on their driving route, or perhaps to reconsider whether they want to be on the road at all. The system is to complex to explain, but fundamentally this is how it works.

Data Input

We have established relationships with emergency services, New Zealand Transport Agency, several councils and other organisations who continually feed us with information about accidents, incidents, road works, events and anything  else that could interfere with normal throughput of NZ’s roads. This information is managed by call centre staff who work shifts covering 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The system is designed to collate all of this information, eliminate false positives, verify the source and quality of the data and much more. We even invite AA Members to tell us about incidents they find, by dialling *223 on their mobiles.

Data Output

The information is then disseminated to be transmitted across many channels. The first ones are AA Maps, which is our flagship mapping site, supporting routing, searching for Points of Interest and much more. What better way to plan your trip or holiday, than to be able view the route, including any traffic issues that might affect you before you drive, then print the route with turn by turn directions, to take for your navigator in the car.

We have totally revamped AA’s Roadwatch website. You can now preset the region that has the greatest relevance to you and by setting up a free AA Maps account, have Roadwatch automatically open to the page in your web browser. This automatically refreshes every 5 minutes to give you the latest information.

We now have additional subscription  services that you can find at the new AA Traffic website. These are Alerts that you can receive by email or direct to your mobile phone. Services available are the Route Alert, Area Alert and Weekend Getaway. If you are an AA Member, you can try the email Alert services for free until the end of the year and if you use a Telecom mobile, you can access the Alert service for free on your mobile until the end of the year.

Of course we are very serious about safety and as we can’t tell whether you are in your car, or driving when you receive our alerts, we place a condition on users of our services, that they do not view them whilst driving.

In addition to these services, we are now sending AA Traffic information directly to compatible car navigation devices. This has significant benefits because if the device knows where you are going and the route you are taking, it is able to alert you about an incident (even if it occurred after you started driving) and offer you an alternative route. The first devices on the market come from Navman. There are a number of other brands of car navigation offering this service on the way. If you are on the road a lot, even if you know how to get to your destination, you can’t know about what’s happening or going to happen on your route. This should be of significant benefit to all regular road users, whether emergency services, trades people, sales people and merchandisers, taxis and many more.

Now of course we want people to know about it and will be running a number of marketing activities to share the word. You can expect to see advertising material about AA Traffic in a range of media and of course we invite you to try it out for yourself.

If you are on Twitter, you can now follows us here, and we al;so have a Facebook Fan Page where we update information and also run competitions and invite people to share their stories or information. If you are on Facebook, why don’t you join in and keep in the know?

October 12, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, competitions, driving, driving directions, facebook, geosmart, gps, location based services, map tools, maps, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Networking and LBS

So what does social networking have to do with LBS. Right now, perhaps not a great deal, but very soon, it could have a great deal to do with mobile. Social networking is a massive growth segment of the Internet. There are some interesting things happening in this area. One is that Social Networking, which began largely as an online way of connecting to people in more meaningful ways, not only people you know, but also people with whom you have business or personal interests in common.

There has been an interesting evolution in Social Networking recently. The first is that it has gone mobile in a big way. I have been talking with Telcos from UK, Europe, the USA and New Zealand over the last couple of months about LBS and Social Networking. All of them have confirmed that close to and in many cases more than 50% of all mobile data traffic today is taken up by social networking. They didn’t plan for this, they didn’t market or advertise it, they didn’t expect it. Consumers just made it happen and in many cases, developers created mobile phone applications that can be installed as a simple download allowing people to use elements of applications such as Twitter, Facebook, Hyves and many others on their phone including the ability to upload photos and post them on your social networking site, as well as connecting to the phone to ring them, from within the mobile.

In one of my personal blogs, I have written about Social Networking including the first in a series on the use of Twitter for Business. One of the changes that is happening is that the social networks which were largely around connecting to people via the internet, but now there are all sorts of real face to face connections being made. Groups are using social networking to meet their ‘friends’ in the real world. For example, we are members of the Wireless & Broadband Forum. The forum has recently started to use Facebook to invite people to attend their events such as Wireless Wednesday, which was where we held the Prize Giving for the 2009 Location Innovation Awards. I also belong to a number of other business groups which use Social Networking to organise get togethers or ‘meetups’.

Given the interesting change that social networking is evolving from an environment where people find each other and commuicate on the Internet, to actually meeting each other in the real world, LBS offers a great opportunity to enhance that by facilitating finding each other, getting driving directions from where you are to the meeting place. GeoSmart of course has many tools to facilitate this in the mobile environment, such as identifying where you are and providing Driving Directions to the meet location. Geocoding and Reverse Geocoding can identify where you are now and the location of your destination. The Point of Interest Web Service V2 can identify a street address, but also contains a huge database of POI including cafes, restaurants, accomodation and lots of other business data as well as petrol stations, ATM’s, Public Toilets and even boat ramps if you are going to meet on the water.

A lot of mobiles now have GPS built in and for those that don’t, the ability to identify the nearest cell site(s) is another way to get at least an estimate of the location of the user.

Of course another very important component is maps. You can find out more about why our maps are the best in New Zealand for LBS here.

If you are using social networking on your mobile, Location is one of the most relevent components and you will find more information about this in coming blogs, so why not subscribe with your favourite RSS reader, so that you don’t miss anything.

April 22, 2009 Posted by | driving directions, facebook, geosmart, GIS, gps, Hyves, lbs, location based services, location innovation awards, map tools, maps, Marketing, Meetups, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, satnav, social networking, Twitter, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment