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Proximity Based Marketing and LBS is a Growth Opportunity

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that traditional forms of Advertising are shrinking. There are many statistics backing this up. There are many statistics backing this up and in Asia Pacific, Carat, for example have forecast a 5.8% decline in ad spend for this year. Obviously the economy is a factor in this result, but it also signals a change in advertising behaviour as people are paying less attention to traditional forms of advertising. Many people now have products such as MySky and Tivo is almost here. These products make it very simple for people to avoid watching TVC’s because the can fast forward their recorded TV programmes. TVNZ announced that they were laying off 90 people as a consequence of a $25 million reduction in advertising revenue. The same applies with radio where many people are now opting for their iPods to listen to their favourite music instead of tuning in and being forced to listen to radio ads.

In my opinion, this doesn’t mean that people want to avoid advertising, specials and promotions altogether. They want them to be more relevant. ZenithOptimedia have forecast far greater drops in Ad expenditure, 11% drop in magazines, 10% in radio, 5.5 in TV, but around a 10% increase in Internet Advertising. So traditional forms of advertising decline, but Internet advertising is on the rise.

Why would that be? People are using the Internet far more these days, which takes them away from traditional media, but the key element to me is relevance. In the World Wide Web, it is far easier to ensure that advertising is relevant to the search or type of site that people are visiting. It also offers a great opportunity for call to action with Click Through, which is of course where Google makes the bulk of its income.

The ability to have people opt in to various services that are relevant to their interests and needs, their current time and place means that the offers will be welcomed and will have a far greater sales conversion rate than with traditional means of advertising and promotion. This is where the opportunity arises with Location Based Services (LBS) and Proximity Based Marketing.

The issue isn’t that people hate ads, specials, good deals and information. The relevance needs to be around space and time. I would welcome a Speight’s Mates Happy Hour electronic coupon, when I am walking past a bar, with a 2 for 1 offer on a Friday evening after work. But I probably wouldn’t even see a printed coupon in a magazine.

I’m sure tourists would take advantage of a special offer to a half price jet boat ride when they are on holiday in Queenstown, when they are within a kilometre of the boat on a sunny morning, than if they read an ad in the plane on their way to New Zealand. The tour operator gets a full boat and all the passengers have more fun. It’s timely, its based on their immediate location and its relevant to their current situation.

Many people think that the technology isn’t ready, but according to a story in ITWire, compound growth of GPS in mobile phones is over 49% and one of the major drivers in the proliferation of SmartPhones. According to Mobile Marketing Magazine, despite the economy, the penetration of SmartPhones grew by 33% to February this year. The traditional definition of a SmartPhone comes from Operating Systems such as Palm, Symbian and Windows Mobile, but if you look around today, many of the mobile apps in those phones such as Contacts, Diary, Email, Still and Video Camera are now standard in pretty much every phone and with the low cost of GPS, that is now being added at great speed.

With Software Development Kits being made freely available for the popular brands and models of phone, this is a perfect opportunity to become familiar with the web services and API’s available from GeoSmart and outlined in previous blogs. All you need is a good idea and a little market research. Of course GeoSmart can offer you a Developer Agreement which gives you free access to any tools you need during the development process.

You can find more information on the Developer Page at http://www.geosmart.co.nz or email info@geosmart.co.nz

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April 21, 2009 Posted by | Agencies, geosmart, GIS, gps, lbs, location based services, map tools, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, Sales, satnav, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Tools Do You Need to Develop a Mobile LBS Application Part 4

A key component and possibly the second highest webmap query on the Internet is for Driving Directions and this has even more relevance in a mobile scenario. Driving Directions is a key point of difference for GeoSmart in New Zealand. In many other countries, the government provides free or low cost map data of a very high quality and suitable for car navigation and other purposes. In New Zealand this isn’t the case. The LINZ maps are the official datum for cadastral property boundaries. However, their road centreline is derived by a computation of the property boundaries.

As I’ve previously mentioned, New Zealand was town planned in Edinborough in the late 1800’s and many of the roads they draughted were never formed or constructed. They are known as paper roads. These roads exist on paper and on the LINZ map data used by services such as Google Maps, but they physically don’t exist. An example is Threepwood Road in Otago. If you have a look on the hybrid mode of satellite view and map view on Google, you will see that while the road exists on the map data, it physcially isn’t there in the satellite photography. This would cause a real problem if you wanted to go for a drive on it.

When GeoSmart discovered this problem and realised that, while it didn’t matter a lot for printed maps where you still have to analyse the data and make a decision on where you drive yourself, practically speaking, if you used either car navigation or a printed set of directions and couldn’t see a map as such, paper roads could cause a lot of confusion and grief. With LINZ having the only full maps of New Zealand, we decided we had to make our own maps. To do this we drove almost every road in New Zealand and also used a lot of Orthophotography to develop a driven road centreline, eliminating all paper roads and at the same time creating an accurate road centreline.

While collecting this data, we were also able to collect information such as the intersections controls (roundabouts, traffic lights etc), turn restrictions (one way streets, no left turns), speed zones, whether the road was sealed, accuracy of street signs and much more. We were even able to establish things like the angles of corners and inclination of roads (how steep they are etc).

This enabled us to build the car navigation dataset used by all the major brands including TomTom, Navman, BMW, Ford, Siemens VDO etc. It also allowed us to create sites like AA Maps and provide the API’s used on Wises web site. Now you can go to AA Maps, plan your journey and print out turn by turn directions from anywhere in NZ to anywhere in NZ and be confident that the instructions will work.

So, from there to your mobile. The Directions Web Service will work on any device that can identify a start point and where the user wants to go. The User Interface is up to the developer  and will probably vary from phone to phone because of its controls and screen size. For example a touch screen such as that on the iPhone or Windows Mobile, would have functionality closer to a web page, whereas a phone without a touch screen would have to function differently. That is really just a design issue, not a significant barrier.

If your phone has GPS or the ability to use cell tower triangulation, it will know where it is. But it is also possible (if you know) to tell your mobile where you are and where you want to go This could be an address you want to get directions to, or it could be Points of Interest from our POI Web Service mentioned in Part 2 of this series. Once you know the start and end of your journey, you can use the Directions web service to guide people directly to your desired location.

So now you can have turn by turn directions delivered to your phone. This could be send as an SMS with text directions, it could be an MMS combining text directions with an image of the route map, or an image zoomed in to your destination, or it could be information in your mobiles web or WAP browser, with enanced functionality.

Here’s the thing. If you are at home or in the office, you can use your PC, but it is of no use to you in your car or away from the computer. You may not know where you are going to want to go until you are out on the road. An LBS application with the Directions Web Service can give you the same freedom, without the necessity of interpreting a map, or more commonly the map isn’t there when you need it. Pick up the kids, meet someone for coffee, find your way from the car park to the show. All easy to do with LBS.

Just as a footnote, a few days ago a 62 year old woman set of from Christchurch to her  home on the West Coast of the South Island. She didn’t arrive and her friends and family spent a couple of days searching for her after she crashed her car down a 5 metre embankment. She was eventually found but the story could have been very different. She may not have been found at all, or not until it was too late to save her life, or she could have been found very easily. If she had a mobile with GPS, after she had been reported missing, if the phone was within coverage, it could have been called and located using an LBS service using GeoSmart tools and her searchers could have had turn by turn directions on their mobiles, right to the spot where her car was.

I suspect this sort of application will be available within the next few years, but someone has to create it first. Tracking elderly people is something that is also a major opportunity.

April 5, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, cartography, driving directions, geosmart, gps, lbs, location based services, maps, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, satnav, tomtom, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment