Observations from NY Location-Based Marketing Discussion

Joshua Rich, President & CEOLocation Based Marketing

Last night I attended a Digital Flash panel discussion on location-based marketing.  It was a very cool session with some great interaction from the audience.   The panelists included several very influential players in the New York location-based services space including:

Gemma Craven – SVP, Ogilvy Digital Influence
Jamie Thompson – CEO of Pongr
Scott Hendrickson – VP Advertising Sales, Where, Inc.
Steve Schlafman – VP Business Development, StickyBits

I learned several things from this session.

  1. There is presently no real way to quantify results or return on investment.  For this reason, the brands are experimenting with location-based programs as part of existing campaigns such as a social media or brand campaign.
  2. When a brand runs a promotion on a platform like StickyBits, the promotion may garner lots of hits, scans and comments but the brands do not retain any data and have no way of doing follow up or reconnecting with the brand.
  3. Where.com is working furiously to integrate mobile commerce that will allow brands that advertise through their network to track ROI based on who sees an ad and purchases the product based on that ad.
  4. There is a new potential payment model emerging.  It uses virtual dollars earned to allow users to pay for items in the real world.
  5. No one knows if location-based services work.  That is no one knows if they drive sales.  The general attitude is: “Try it and if it works for you great, if it doesn’t try something else.”
  6. The best applications do one thing really well.  It’s the only way to cut through the haze of application fatigue.
  7. Everyone believes that check-ins themselves will run out of steam and users will get tired of checking in.  The real opportunity is the ability to capture and deliver location-based content.

The big moment for me was talking with Jamie Thompson CEO of Pongr after the discussion. I didn’t know much about Pongr going into the session, but left feeling pretty impressed with the company and the technology.

On the surface Pongr promotes themselves as another location-based interactive game.  Play the game and you can become the virtual CEO of a company simply by being the person who takes the most photos that include the brand’s logo.  This is all fine and good and is probably a cool promotion that every brand should run every now and again in order to engage their audience and draw attention to a specific event or product launch, etc.

Behind the gimmicky game however, is the technology they’ve developed which can identify a brand or brand asset from a photo or video.  Seems simple, but think about the potential for marketers.  First, how about using it to measure the ever elusive brand awareness.  Brands can use Pongr to measure the direct impact by the number of users taking photos.  Or even more, merge the technology with Facebook who has a vast database of images innocently uploaded from members.  Doing this then allows a brand to measure exposure.  How many times does the brand appear in 1000 photos for example?  They could do this before and after the campaign and use this as a success metric.

Think further though.  If they can identify a brand logo, the logo can then be converted into an interactive event or hot spot, i.e. clickable.  If Facebook or YouTube embedded this technology on their site, advertisers could pay for embedded links on users generated photos that would click through to product or brand information.  Or allow Pepsi to advertise on the page whenever their logo appears in a photo.  Think of it like automatic tagging where the brand is tagged and a dynamic link is embedded.

Pretty cool eh?  It’s a big idea and I’ll be sure to keep an eye out as this company evolves.
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