Voice and data services have become commodities for telecommunications companies. The result is an industry hungry for innovation to increase customer base and profit margins.
According to TeleMapics, location-based service (LBS), utilizing wireless communications and global position technologies, is poised to be that innovation.
LBS is an old term largely dismissed by industry insiders as it was uveiled almost a decade ago with huge amounts of hype and zero follow-through. However, today is another story. LBS could very well be the defining technology of 2008, as I have posted before.
AT&T and the iPhone are the kings of LBS at the moment, but Sprint just announced they are teaming up with Microsoft. Verizon is not far behind.
If this is the case, marketers have some work in front of them in figuring out how to leverage LBS for their respective clients.
Here is what I/we know so far:
1. Utility Beats Entertainment…For Now
For all the hoopla we’ve seen about being about being able to watch YouTube videos on iPhones, it turns out people are not as interested in surfing as they are searching. Adrian from Zeus Jones writes today about an interesting finding from Google. It turns out Google Maps usage has “increased sharply” since the release of the iPhone and “hasn’t stopped rising.” Meanwhile, YouTube availability on the iPhone has not effected usage at all.
Adrian analyzes this, stating “There’s no denying that entertainment is a legitimate way to engage, however this [information] does prove that the barrier to entry for a good entertainment experience is substantially higher than it is for a useful service.”
What does this mean for marketers? Well, in a nutshell, focus on building mobile utility for your customers if you hope to get the greatest return. Table the mobile entertainment unless you have some creativity worth a pencil – this may break through the barrier Adrian mentions above. Or, optimally, pair the two together…just don’t forget the utility.
2. The Battle for Ad Turf
The mobile advertising space is basically virgin territory, but already people are working to carve out space and build standards for mobile marketing. The “people” are search engines, carriers, and new platforms.
Search Engines: Google AdSense for Mobile enables online publishers to target location-based advertising to anyone using their browser from a mobile phone. The opportunities here are endless from a marketing perspective, but they are limited at the moment. Currently, Google only offers AdSense for Mobile on basic text ads.
Carriers: Another player vying for space is Australian telco Telstra. Per ITWire, Telstra has “launched a trial of location based coupons from major retailers such as KFC and Pizza Hut. In the trial, users can request a coupon to be sent to their mobile phone from banner ads on a variety of websites.
By clicking on the banner advertisements, consumers are provided with information on the promotional offer and the ability to enter their mobile number to receive a coupon via SMS. For Telstra mobile customers, information on their mobile also includes a map of their local area and the location of the nearest stores plotted on the map.”
New Platforms: ProximityMedia has built out a system that can push out relative content to Bluetooth phones. Their demo is tacky but interesting:
3. LBS = SMS + MMS + WAP
Wonky? Yes. Let me explain.
SMS – A.K.A., Short Message Service – A.K.A., text messaging – can easily be sponsored by corporations. Envision an ad on top of your text message. In turn, you can text for free. Lots of marketers like this idea because it seems so darned simple.
Well, LogicaCMGrecently did a study of consumer reactions to sponsored SMS (or SMS Advertising) and discovered that Northern Europe and the U.S. would be “extremely unlikely” to use the product. The conclusion here is free SMS isn’t that important in America – after all, unsponsored SMS is only five bucks a month.
However, SMS advertising has shown success when it is paired with multimedia messaging service (MMS) and wireless application protocol (WAP). For all you non-wonks (a group that includes me), a good example of MMS is any mobile message that includes images, videos or music, and WAP is basically a phone that can connect to the Internet. Put all three together, and you get yourself a promo.
For instance, a radio station in Boca Raton, FL, recently teamed up with LOC-AID (a LBS technology provider) to build out a scavenger hunt called Dash for Cash. In it, people got SMS, MMS, and had to use WAP to find clues that would lead to $10k in booty. Supposedly the thing was a hit. You can see more here:
4. LBS doesn’t have to sit on your phone
We have all seen the LBS billboards in Minority Report. Tom Cruise walks by a board that customizes to his presence.
Well, we aren’t there yet, but AKQA recently got us closer. This time last year, they built out a billboard campaign for Yell.com that was placed on the sides of London buses. The billboards were linked to GPS that enabled them to be customized as they were on route. Interactive, local maps were also put in at bus shelters. Killer. And they didn’t even use a phone.
More later from me. Anyone else have a best practice/insight for using effectively using LBS in marketing/advertising?