What location-based apps are on your phone?
Sterling: I probably have about 40 or more on my phones. I have all the search apps, Yelp, Urbanspoon, Foursquare, Facebook, the major deal apps, all the yellow pages apps, and a number of vertical and travel apps. I test out most of the location-based apps as they're announced. I only use a small handful personally, however.
iMedia: Beyond checking and coupons, what geo-location capabilities should marketers have on their radar?
Sterling: I would say that rather than focus on the technology or capabilities per se, marketers need to clearly understand consumer behavior. This is basic stuff in a sense. Marketers also need to develop integrated multi-platform campaigns with great creative. Digital marketers often focus on technology and neglect the creative. And given that the market is evolving so rapidly advertisers need to be in a constant experimentation mode, especially with respect to mobile.
There was a Forrester report that came out last year arguing that nobody is using "location based services" (e.g., Foursquare). That report conveyed the wrong message to the market about mobile and location: Don't worry about it, you can wait. Marketers can't wait to figure out location on mobile devices. It's about a lot more than Foursquare; location permeates the entire consumer experience on mobile devices.
Marketers need to be testing and refining campaigns and tactics now. If they wait, their competitors will just be that much further ahead.
iMedia: New technology like Layar can augment traditional geo-location apps with additional data. Is this a trendy toy, or can marketers derive real benefit from it?
Sterling: Marketers will eventually be able to benefit from augmented reality (AR). However most AR tools right now aren't particularly useful. AR is ultimately a way to get rich information on a product, place or event more quickly via the smartphone camera. AR is not unlike barcode scanning in a certain way.
In the next 12 to 18 months some more interesting scenarios and "practical" use cases and best practices will emerge. At the moment it's mostly "cool" technology.
iMedia: How are tablets changing the location-based services market?
Sterling: Tablets are complicated because they're highly portable but people don't use them on the street corner (maybe 7-inch tablets). They're mostly used at home or in a fixed location (e.g., office, hotel). People are more engaged with them (and the ads that appear on them) than they are with PCs. They also present a larger "canvas" for publishers and advertisers.
Assuming that tablets continue to sell as well as they have been, we're going to see cannibalization of PC usage by tablets. Mobile generally complements PC usage today by contrast.
iMedia: What can ad:tech attendees expect to hear from you?
Sterling: Our session is going to feature a mix of data and case studies that will showcase the many ways that location figures into marketing and consumer behavior on mobile devices. Hopefully we'll open people's eyes to the possibilities and power of location beyond the check-in fetish that has been the focus of most of these discussions to date.
Lucia Davis is associate editor at iMediaConnection.
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