The compelling nature and implications for location in mobile marketing vary dramatically by context and - well, location. The opportunity for contextually aware location data isn't lost on anyone, but stringing those attributes together with relevant marketing remains challenging and elusive.
"I look at advertising and advertising on mobile quite differently. I think there has to be a paradigm shift," says Damien Patton, CEO and founder of Banjo. There will eventually be a backlash against intrusive ads, he tells a packed audience at Mobile World Congress.
"When it comes to location, you cannot talk about location without talking about privacy," he says. "Why are people going to give you their location, their privacy?" A nominal discount for a nearby Starbucks, for example, isn't going to do it, he adds.
Banjo, which aims to enrich real-time content discovery by location across the social graph, provides more context and relevancy to check-ins, posts, videos, news stories, and the like, says Patton. "We're looking at everything going on in the world right now…It's the things that are happening right now in temporal time and it's across all social networks."
"It's not only the location, it's what's going on. It's the event," he adds.
For Twitter, location is just another piece of metadata, says Sean Cook, lead mobile partner engineer at Twitter. "If you attach location, that's a piece of metadata that better explains what that 140-character sound bite is," he adds. Twitter also uses location to share more relevant ads with its users, but it also "helps grow the conversation," Cook says.
When a user sees a large ad running along the top of any given application, there are times where it might be relevant to that user, but oftentimes it isn't, says Cook. Here in Barcelona, "in the moment, I'm more likely to walk across the street and buy a Barcelona jersey. I think the context of where you are is going to be more important, especially for advertising," he adds.
"It's a concept of here versus there," Patton continues, adding that Banjo has found that users are more comfortable sharing their location on Twitter because it's more general and not necessarily pinpointed to a specific corner or venue. "It's like an ice cream cone," he says. "It's not about being at the tip of that pin."
Location sharing varies significantly across cultures and events, Patton says, adding that this year's Carnival of Brazil drove much higher usage than Mardi Gras in New Orleans, for example.
"If you look at location globally, the percentages would skew male," says Patton, but locations shared from events like New York Fashion Week are predominantly female. Nonetheless, that same type of event in another part of the world could drive very few location shares because of the culture.
Cook reflects on his early days at Twitter, four years ago, when it was still virtually unheard of for people to share their most private thoughts, photos, or other media with the world at large. "We're becoming conditioned to it, but with each step…there are bounds that you have to work within," he says. "Once we get our toes in the water, we realize it's not freezing and we step further in."
"The user has that short attention span that we've all grown out of, and I think as we continue down the path it's going to get worse or better depending on your perspective," concludes Cook.
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Matt Kapko has been writing about mobile since 2006, before it became cool. Based in Long Beach, CA, he has covered mobile entertainment, digital media, marketing, and advertising for several business media outlets. A former editor and reporter for RCR Wireless News, paidContent, and iMedia Connection, Matt is a regular freelance reporter for ClickZ. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattKapko or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.