Guest post by John Andrews, Founder/CEO Collective Bias. Originally posted at CollectiveBias blog
Almost four years ago, I was attending SXSW with the Walmart Elevenmoms group. I was learning about social media from the people that were doing it by immersing myself in the culture. Having spent the previous 14 years of my life as a brand and retail marketer, this was all new to me and I believed I was looking at the future of marketing. Of all the new platforms and technology I saw, none had an impact on me as profound as Location Based Services (LBS).
Foursquare, Gowalla and Whrrl were all the buzz at the event. At the “All Hat, No Cattle” party, I was introduced to John Kim, one of the leaders of Whrrl and spent some time understanding how the platform worked. It occurred to me that the implications for retailers and brands were profound. It seemed logical that Shopper Marketing, the branch of marketing that focuses on consumers along the path to purchase, would be well suited to integrate LBS to provide insights, ideas and inspiration for shoppers.
A few months later, Amy Callahan and I started Collective Bias with an investment from Ken Barnett, CEO of shopper marketing firm Mars Advertising, and the first technology partnership we built was with Whrrl. We believe that LBS will be a critical part of how social comes alive for shoppers both inside and outside the retail environment. We watched with interest as the category developed and new marketing models began to develop. Foursquare became the category leader, Whrrl was purchased by Groupon and Gowalla was just purchased by Facebook (after its own efforts with Facebook places met with disappointing results). More recently, Kevin Rose of Digg launched Oink Builder, a great LBS app that highlights local discovery in food and culture.
As with any new technology, the key to understanding is usage. For example, I use Foursquare daily to understand what is possible with the platform but more importantly, how would I use it as a consumer. There is a ton of great new shiny technology, but if it ultimately does not provide utility, consumers won’t use it. I would argue that QR codes have the potential to fall into this category unless they can offer more than a simple connection to a website or other content. Google is rapidly developing technology that mimics its mapping service and works inside a retail environment that will turn the entire store into a QR code.
LBS has multiple benefits in the Shopper Marketing arena including Path to Purchase insights, content generation and syndication. I don’t know of another technology that can provide real time shopper insights the way location services can. By aggregating location information from check-ins marketers not only get demographic information but much more valuable behavioral input as well. As passive check-in like Foursquare Radar begins to become more mainstream, consumer engagement nearer to the point of purchase will evolve in new and different ways. Consumers will rapidly increase their usage as they discover beneficial outcomes.
So… Is LBS Ready for Prime Time? Relevance for Consumers Lies in Delivering Value.
John, yet again I realize how much more there is for me to learn and do. Just when I’ve figured out one platform, along comes another! It makes a ton of sense that LBS will be seriously impactful. I hope to be a part of it via your own Collective Bias – am learning the ropes of it now.
The way business AND relationships are now conducted is soooo different. My own kids don’t seem to “get” it yet, nor my wife. I’ve finally prevailed upon my wife to begin to learn Social Media.
While I don’t promote myself as a SM coach, I’ve begun to get a client here and there or friends that I coach for free. The wonder on their faces as they see the possibilities is worth more than whatever I get paid.
I look forward to contributing to CB and its efforts and it was a great pleasure meeting you at Blogworld LA as initiated by my friend, Ted Rubin – Mr. Bashful and Mr. UnOpinionated! lol…
I think this whole space is continually evolving but I’m noticing a few trends. First, everything is sharable. From Pinterest to Facebook, simple syndication ($5 word for sharing) is built in. Second, location is now part of most tools. Finally, most tools interlink so you can find the one that works best for you and share content across them all.
I find the best client education is getting them to use the tools themselves.
Thanks for being a Social Fabric member and a friend!