LBS and Mobile Marketing and Business Development

Wilson Kerr

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The Mobile Proof Presence (MPOP) checkin game is white-hot and set to explode. In a relatively short amount of time, most people (with an iPhone, at least)  know what a “checkin” is and the most popular checkin platform (Foursquare) is adding 15,000 people per day! Foursquare is chasing 2 Million users, each opting-in to broadcast the details of their location-based interactions with real businesses in the context of their larger trusted social networks. This is no longer a fad. This is real and could finally be the legitimizing “lift” mobile advertising has long been looking for.

Thanks to checkins, realtime social network updates are no longer just static, general “What you are doing?” posts. They now convey “What are you doing, where are you, and who are you there with.” While this has certainly been a fast-moving location-based social media phenomenon, the real momentum behind this movement (and the reason to take-note) is not individuals sharing the where/what/who, but something else.

Special Offers Becoming The Focus

 

Increasingly, Foursquare and other checkin platforms allow users to convey, “what special deal they got for being there”. This last crucial element has recently tipped the balance and allowed Mobile Proof of Presence linked to checkins to emerge as THE transformative mobile advertising force to-watch, in record time.

No longer passing out only fun, amusing “digital candy” badges, mayorships and pins, these platforms are now tapping into the rich vein of actual product-linked incentives offered by well-known brands. In no small way, they are finally delivering on the original (largely unrealized) core premise of mobile advertising, by linking consumer behavior and tracked  mobile ROI to an existing, proven formula for increasing sales.

Every consumer-facing business with a cash register, from the smallest single-door to the largest mega retailer, knows that special offers drive lift. Printed coupon fliers, chalkboard nightly restaurant specials, “BOGO” days at the supermarket, seasonal clearance sales, and, most importantly, “punch card” loyalty programs all work. Foursquare takes the incentive programs, coupons and special offers retail businesses have used for decades to drive sales, and straps them to a new, modern opt-in engine that feeds the businesses back real-time location-parsed ROI metrics.

Brands Are On-Board: The Starbucks Badge

At long last, it seems large, well-known brands have finally decided to step around their lethargic and overly cautious agencies and get involved. By all reports, Foursquare and their closest competitor Gowalla are turning down daily inbound proposals from top brands looking to tap into the power of this new way to track lift. Traditional agencies are likely shuddering, and for good reason. Perish the thought that they finally have to step up to this new level of measured return and quantify results! I can just imagine them responding to the brand contact, “What do you mean you want us to run a campaign that tells you how many people acted upon the offer and where and when and how much money you made from your spend“? Heaven forbid.

Foursquare is using Mobile Proof of Presence to finally unlock the Pandora’s box that allows branded locations to run real checkin-based incentive campaigns that reward loyalty, showing them who was in the store or business, when, and what they redeemed as a reward for interacting with the location/brand while there. These metrics can then be tied to increased sales of real products during the time the incentive was offered. Voila! Lift.

This checkin movement is being sped along by a flood of energy and momentum linked to the  long-unrealized potential of mobile marketing, generally. Foursquare, for example, is not so much seeking this as fuel for growth as they are receiving it and serving as a catch basin for this torrent of brands finally able to get metrics empirically linked to real, tracked incremental visits by real people with real money to spend.

Consider this, Foursquare was founded in March of 2009 and has not yet spent the original $1.35 million they took to get started.  They are still a small, scrappy company that is admittedly barely in control of the tiger they have by the tail. Yes, they have location validation (cheating) issues to address that could cloud metrics and naysayers are squealing about narcissism and privacy. Still, Foursquare is growing larger by the minute and the larger they get, the more likely it is they will perfect the algorithmic tools the big brands have long been looking for. Gowalla, Loopt, WHERE, WeReward, and the rest are hot on their heels and there is a lot of loot to spread around. Speaking of loot, Pepsi recently launched their own, branded check-in platform called Pepsi Loot. That’s how hot this space is right now!

Also, watch for the big boys (Apple, Google, Nokia, Yahoo, Facebook, etc) to step into this game in a big way, as the realization sinks in that Mobile Proof Of Presence checkin campaigns (linked to real incentives) might finally be the “lift” mobile marketing has been looking for (and brands are demanding).  They better hurry.

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For an inside look into Foursquare and the forces behind their success, take the time to watch this excellent and revealing video interview with their CEO, Dennis Crowley. BTW, he was just crowned the “King” of social media by Wired Magazine (UK).

Foursquare Potential: CEO Crowned Social Media King

 

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More Stories By Wilson Kerr

Wilson has 11+ years experience in the Mobile and Location Based Services (LBS) space. Recently, he became Director Of Business Development and Sales for Unbound Commerce, a Boston-based mobile commerce solution provider. He has deep expertise in the areas of mobile commerce, social media, branded location integration, branded content licensing, and is knowledgeable in a broad range of navigation technologies. Wilson has worked with top tier brands, content providers, device manufacturers, and application developers, including Nokia, Unbound Commerce, Tele Atlas/TomTom, The Travel Channel, Langenscheidt Publishing, Intellistry, Parking In Motion, GPS-POI-US, and others. Wilson is a blogger on all things location-based, edits the LBS topic page on Ulitzer, teaches a Social Media 101 class, and has served as a panelist and speaker at Mobile LBS conferences and networking events. Wilson has held positions in Business Development, Sales/Marketing, and Digital Licensing at The North Face, Outdoor Intelligence, Fishing Hot Spots Maps, Tele Atlas North America/TomTom and, most-recently, Unbound Commerce. Wilson left Tele Atlas to start Location Based Strategy, LLC in 2007. Company Website: http://www.LBStrategy.com. Twitter: @WLLK