Posts Tagged ‘location-based advertising’

SurroundSense: Indoor positioning by ambience fingerprinting

Posted in Geospatial Technology, Mapping on September 24th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

Indoor positioning has baffled the greatest minds in the location-based technology industry since its inception.  Rarely can a GPS fix be attained indoors with today’s PNDs and cellphones, and other methods of positioning such as relying on Wi-Fi access points can be inaccurate.  But researchers from Duke University may be on to something with a new method of determining indoor position dubbed SurroundSense.

SurroundSense works by pulling in data from a cellphone’s various sensors and creating an “ambience fingerprint” by filtering through a variety of algorithms. Ambience fingerprinting takes into account ambient light, sound and color in a given location and then assigns an overall ambient signature to a given place. Because most businesses feature a different aesthetic from others in order to differentiate themselves and reduce competition, the Duke researchers believe that the combination of ambient information types will usually be different in each place. They can then be augmented by accelerometer data which detects a person’s movement through a location, and Wi-Fi hotspots when available. The accelerometer in particular can help detect what type of establishment a person is in by the pattern of their movement. For example, a person in a grocery store may move quickly up and down aisles, while a person in a restaurant may move through a short line-up and then stay in one spot for a length of time while eating.

In order to minimize the number of places that have to be compared to a given fingerprint in any situation, SurroundSense utilizes GSM to locate a user on a macro scale. Then only those businesses in the general area will be filtered through the entire fingerprinting process. The project is a work in process and there remains a ton of work to be done. But so far the researchers have done a trial using 51 business locations and have had an average positioning accuracy of 87%. You can read a paper about the project here (PDF).

GeoVector app may fulfill the potential of location-based advertising

Posted in Apps on September 23rd, 2009 by Justin – Comments
GeoVector launched today a new location-based GPS application for smartphones called World Surfer. It differs from most other LBS apps on the market in that it is a directional point and search application that combines GPS and compass orientation to enable users to search for things nearby. For example, a user walking down the sidewalk could point her smartphone ahead and see what restaurants are nearby. Furthermore, you can point at a business and automatically call up its website, customer reviews, a phone number, etc.
Called “Click on the Real World” technology by GeoVector, the application’s functionality automatically brings to mind location-based advertising. Why? Because the very way in which it is used (that being to assist you in gathering information regarding businesses directly in front of your face) somewhat eliminates the intrusive of mobile ads, not to mention makes them a heck of alot more targeted and relevant.
GeoVector is already in a great position to make use of this. Google, Microsoft Bing, Yahoo! Local and Wikipedia all funnel content to the application, and the company has already pinned down Papa John’s pizza and Starbucks as paying customers in exchange for directing potential customers their way.
On the flip side though, an application like GeoVector could eventually become too ‘corporate’ to appeal to the typical end user. Serendipity is often what makes apps such as this one so appealing. By signing deals with chains to direct customers to their respective places of business, GeoVector runs the risk of becoming nothing more than a giant, bossy advertisement. And who wants that.
But give it a chance. So far it looks pretty cool.
Currently GeoVector is available for the iPhone 3GS via the iTunes App Store and the T-Mobile G1 and myTouch 3G with Google in the Android Market. Given the need for a compass to use the app, we can probably expect a Nokia app in the future as well.

T-Mobile trial proves mobile ads 27 times more effective than internet banner ads

Posted in Geospatial Technology, Industry on June 23rd, 2009 by Justin – Comments

I’m a huge believer in the mobile advertising market.  Though a nascent industry and still plagued by privacy concerns and the like, there’s no arguing that mobile ads offer advertisers the ability to optimally target a specific audience usually in an environment perfect for an actionable response.

A recent mobile ad trial by T-Mobile in the Czech Republic seems to confirm the potential.  In fact, the trial was such a confirmation for the wireless carrier, it may roll out SMS/MMS mobile advertisements in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The trial consisted of 22 advertisers including big names like Coca-Cola, Nestle and Ford, 32 different campaigns and 3, 133 ad recipients in two groups-26 to 50 year old urban women and young people under the age of 26.  Here’s some key stats pulled from the trial:

  • average response rate (depending on campaign could be a clickthrough or a registration) was 27 times higher than a traditional internet banner ad (2.72% compared to 0.1%)
  • most successful campaign had a response rate of 11.78%
  • least successful campaign had a response rate of 0.29% (nearly three times higher than a banner ad)

I don’t believe this trial factored in location although it was confined to the Czech Republic.  But if a non-geoaware mobile ad campaign can produce such extraordinary results, imagine the potential success of a campaign that includes location information.  More targeted, more actionable.


1020 Placecast joins with Alcatel-Lucent to provide location-based brand advertising

Posted in Geospatial Technology, Industry on May 28th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

placecast logo 1020 Placecast joins with Alcatel Lucent to provide location based brand advertisingLocation-based advertising is still a nascent industry, but I’m convinced that it will soon become mainstream.  One of the better known players, 1020 Placecast, a provider of an LBS ad platform, has teamed up with Alcatel-Lucent to offer mobile operators and advertisers an LBS service that delivers ads based on location.

The service, which will be opt-in for end users, will leverage Alcatel’s Geographic Services Messaging Platform to track users’ location and set up territorial geofences.  If a user passes into an area where a message can be targeted, Alcatel’s servers pull the relevant ad information from 1020 Placecast and push it to the user.

Users who opt-in will be able to choose specific brands from which they’d like to receive ads, likely in the form of text-messaged deals, so they’re not constantly plastered with irrelevant advertisements.

As far as I know, there hasn’t been a committment by any wireless carrier to use the new service yet.


Nokia Point & Find launched in beta to improve your shopping experience

Posted in Apps, Nokia on April 1st, 2009 by Justin – Comments

Earlier this month we heard that Nokia was testing out a mobile advertising strategy in Helsinki’s Kamppi Shopping Center.  Today Nokia has announced another mobile shopping-related initiative in the form of a downloadable application called Point & Find.

The beta version of Point & Find is available for select Nokia handsets in the United States and United Kingdom.  It allows users to do a couple of interesting things currently.  First, users can take pictures of product barcodes in stores and Point & Find will return product information, reviews, and the lowest prices for the item online.  Second, users can take a picture of a movie poster, and Point & Find will return information such as trailers, reviews, showtimes nearby, and in the United States even allow users to purchase tickets from their Nokia phones.

Nokia hopes to make money from the application by enabling brands to develop interactive campaigns with it.  In essence, by connecting real-world objects to pertinent online information and promotions.  This is something that has been happening in Japan for some time.  And it looks like the timing is ripe to introduce it to the US and UK.

A case study (PDF) Nokia conducted at its Experience Store in a San Francisco mall revealed that shoppers enjoyed the immediacy of available information and even the reduction in sales pressure.  Testers rated Point & Find an average of 4.03 out of 5 for improving the shopping experience, 4.06 our of 5 for enjoyment and perhaps most importantly, 4.44 out of 5 for ease of use.  Furthermore, after testers received initial product information they were given three options.  One, they could get more detailed information; two, they could save the product to a “wish list”; and three, they could send the information to a friend.

I found the fact that 67 percent of testers said the “wish list” was their favorite feature fascinating.  Why?  Because it implies that even with the immediacy of shopping information available, the majority of people actually found Point & Find useful for organizing future purchases.

Point & Find looks like something you definitely might want to try if you own a Nokia phone.  In the US you can download the application here, while in the UK you can head here.

MySpace goes MySpace Local with Citysearch partnership

Posted in Apps on March 31st, 2009 by Justin – Comments

myspacelocallogo MySpace goes MySpace Local with Citysearch partnershipMySpace and Citysearch are jointly announcing MySpace Local this morning, a new MySpace property that brings Citysearch business listings directly into the MySpace community.  According to Techcrunch’s Mike Arrington, who just broke the story, MySpace Local will launch in private beta this week, with a public launch in the United States in April.

Plenty of people have written off MySpace to Facebook and Citysearch to Yelp, but regardless, this is a big deal.  MySpace Local will eventually include all Citysearch business listings, but will start off with restaurants, bars, and and “nightlife” listings.  Listings will be syndicated to MySpace Local’s listing pages, including addresses, maps, hours of operation, etc., and MySpace users will be able to rate and review restaurants.  When a user first logs in to MySpace Local the first thing they’ll see is rating and reviews from their MySpace friends.  This is great.  Not only does it make relevant information immediately visible to each user, but there is a Twitter-like real-time feel to it making information timely as well.

All listings are broken down into city pages for all major US cities with integrated local search functionality as well.  Aside from the added traffic MySpace Local will bring to the MySpace domain in general, ‘city pages’ is where the dollars will flow in.  Now instead of massive national advertisers with big budgets exclusively funding the initiative, smaller local advertisers will be able to bid on ad space as well.  And you can bet that’s exactly what they’ll do.

The benefits to both companies are immediately apparent.  In addition to Citysearch’s recent Facebook Connect integration which syndicates reviews and ratings to Facebook profiles, it’ll now have a visibly branded integration into the world’s second largest social network.  And it’s likely that MySpace Local will add a large chunk of revenue to the coffers of both companies via an undisclosed revenue-sharing agreement.

Potentially more interesting to the readers of GPS Obsessed is planned integration in MySpace mobile products.  With real-time Citysearch activity integrated into the MySpace activity feed, there’ll be all kinds of opportunity for real-world social interactions.

 MySpace goes MySpace Local with Citysearch partnership

Funny: Blackspot Greasemonkey script clicks on all Google AdSense ads, some sort of bad behavioral protest

Posted in Industry on March 12th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

Privacy rights are one of the main factors standing in the way of location-based services becoming mainstream.  Mainstream LBS will eventually happen, believe me, but privacy and the lack of consumer education surrounding it is definitely slowing things down.

This morning we talked about Facebook’s new location and language-based advertising.  While Facebook has had a number of user revolts surrounding privacy and the use of personal information, users were noticeably silent this time despite the fact this is yet another example.  This could be why Facebook decided to change user profile designs at the same time.  A diversion.  Google hasn’t had as much luck.

Another company constantly under scrutiny for its use of our search data, Google also debuted a new form of advertising yesterday.  Its AdSense ads have always been displayed based on keyword searches or website content.  For instance, on our page you’ll see the AdSense ads are for businesses that offer products and services related to our content.  Now Google has debuted interest-based advertising.

(Image Credit: Radar-by the way, Cory Doctorow also has a funny article here describing a world in which Google controls your life.)

Because not all searches provide enough information for AdSense to deliver truly contextual ads, AdSense ads will now serve ads based on your search and web browsing history on such occasions.  Google has been very transparent about what its doing, in my opinion.  A blog post describing the changes and what they mean was posted, but not all of us read Google’s blogs.  Now there are worried web users everywhere wondering when Sergey Brin and Larry  Page are going to be moving into their homes.

If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of most advertising-related privacy arguments.  I’m of the opinion that our personal information being used by advertisers will result in ads that make our lives easier.  If Google wants to use my personal information to throw better ads my way it can.  If a mobile advertiser wants to use my location to throw me a heads-up about shopping deals in my immediate vicinity, hey, even better (although I hate clothes shopping-advertisers please take note!).  But, despite my feelings, I am a big fan of Adbusters magazine.  Not necessarily because I agree with its general point of view, but because its just so creative.

That said, here’s one for the privacy advocates.  Adbusters has come up with a Greasemonkey script called Blackspot that you add as a browser plug-in.  What does it do? It clicks on every single AdSense ad you come across while surfing the web.  This is some creative activism, and while I don’t totally agree with the underlying ideology, it’s just to good not to mention!  One more thing though-and this is probably funnier.  A quick look at Adbusters source code reveals its uses Google Analytics to track your visits to its website!

Facebook knows where you live, will throw ads at your house

Posted in Geospatial Technology, Industry, Mobile, Netbooks, Technology on March 12th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

Facebook is finally embracing location-based advertising.  In response to consumer feedback, Facebook announced language and location targeting for its advertisers yesterday.

Location-Based Advertising

I’ve been waiting for Facebook to embrace location for some time now.  I was looking at it from an end user perspective, in essence wondering why Facebook’s mobile platform didn’t take advantage of the geolocation technologies embedded in most smartphones and mid-range handsets today.  My thinking has always been that if Facebook ever did add a location component to its mobile social network, several of the key LBS competitors such as Loopt and Whrrl would be in big trouble.  Essentially overrun by Facebook’s 175 million-and-growing active user base.  In this case, Facebook is turning to location from an advertising perspective.  But what this means is that Facebook is taking location seriously, and that it has the means to add geolocation to its platform whenever it wants.

The location targeting feature allows advertisers to target ads within a certain mile radius of the target location.  Initially the service will only be available in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom; and with radius choices of 10, 25, and 50 miles from the target city.  This doesn’t sound like much, but if you think of targeting an ad at a huge metropolitan location-Facebook uses Miami as an example-specifying a city name will only aim the ad at Miami, rather than all the suburbs and surrounding cities that most people include when thinking of Miami.  In highly populated cities, this allows advertisers to reach many more people with effectively targeted ads.

Language-Based Advertising

This is just a natural extension of local advertising.  The language targeting filter lets you target people speaking a given language in a certain area.  When you type in the language and location using the filter, you’ll also be returned the size of the target population.  For example, input Spanish language speakers in the United States and you’ll find a target population of nearly 1.1 million.

Currently Facebook is offered in 40 languages and 60 more are in development.  Judging by these numbers alone you can see how this could expand the reach and effectiveness of an ad.

A Geolocal Facebook

So the question remains: will Facebook integrate location into its social networking platform?  That remains to be seen.  It may not have too.  But one thing is for sure-expect to see Facebook begin offering hyperlocal mobile ads sometime in the future.

 Facebook knows where you live, will throw ads at your house

Apple geo-patent could change the way we make real-world purchases

Posted in Apple, Geospatial Technology on March 11th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

Apple has filed a patent for a location-based interface that could fundamentally change the way iPhone and iPod users make product purchases in the bricks-and-mortar world.

Dubbed “Graphical User Interface with Location-Specific Interface Elements,” the 49 page patent application covers a variety of location-based services, but in its entirety highlights Apple’s interest in facilitating iTunes store purchases when people are on the go.

For instance, a person hearing a song playing in a music store would be returned a display specifying the song name, performer and other relevant details.  On the same page would be a purchase button that would take the user directly to the relevant iTunes purchase page.

The Register
this would be a benefit to both Apple and bricks-and-mortar retailers, but I think this is only of benefit to Apple.  Sure, in a perfect Apple world where everyone had iPhones, such an application could reduce product inventory for retailers, ultimately lowering costs.  But while the iPhone’s market penetration has grown exponentially since its launch, it still has only 10.7 percent of the overall market.  Right now, the effect of this application on store inventories would be next to nothing.  While the store owner that facilitated the iTunes purchase may get a cut of the profits, I can’t see the cut being enough to benefit anything but Apple’s bottom line.

Another variant of the patent application is simpler.  The iPhone’s GPS could trigger “establishment-specific display panels” based on location.  In essence, both GPS positioning and maps have become so accurate that a Starbucks ad could be sent to your phone while you’re in line at Starbucks.

It has become clear over the past few months that Apple sees huge potential in location-awareness.  The company filed a patent envisioning future user interactions with digital maps in January, its iPhoto ‘09 software suite now incorporates geotagging, and the impending Snow Leopard OS X release is expected to use the iPhone’s CoreLocation Framework to bring location awareness to the desktop.

 Apple geo patent could change the way we make real world purchases

Is MySpace getting ready to sell location-based advertising on mobile phones?

Posted in Apps, Mobile on February 20th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

myspace logo Is MySpace getting ready to sell location based advertising on mobile phones?Is MySpace preparing to sell location-based advertising?  A Reuters article today discussing the convergence of mobile social networks and the telecom industry seems to suggest so:

And of course MySpace itself — created to sell advertising, not just for fun — is confident of profiting from new opportunities to sell ads based on features unique to mobile, like knowing where members are, if they choose to opt in.

“That will take you into a whole new realm,” DeWolfe said. “We are focused on creating a large, profitable business.”

A recent study suggested that 48 percent of marketing gurus believe that location-based advertising will be the next big trend in the marketing industry.  I’ve been wondering for some time now when MySpace and Facebook would jump on the LBS bandwagon.  It appears MySpace could be in the very near future.


 Is MySpace getting ready to sell location based advertising on mobile phones?