In previous columns we have looked at “local” from the standpoint of geo-fencing, measurements, and alerts (SMS and Passbook) based on where people are and how they are interacting. Today we are going to look at “local” based on how consumers are leveraging things like check-ins to share experiences and how marketers are starting to and will continue to leverage this type of information going forward.
More than likely if you have a smartphone you have at least a few apps that allow (and more commonly encourage) you to check in at different locations or events. Most commonly we think of Foursquare, Facebook, Yelp, etc. But there are many others that allow some form of check-in like Gowalla, Loopt, and SCVNGR. Recently Instagram has been pushing the tagging of locations when you snap that photo and share it.
If you are like me you sometimes check in on Foursquare, often enter the location of the photo before uploading it to Instagram, and when you want to annoy (or brag to) your friends you will even check in on Facebook when out and about. Some will claim that checking in is a waste of time and too many people are staring at their phones and not enjoying the experiences around them. While this is a valid point there can be some benefits for consumers and marketers to checking in and understanding what people are doing.
A few examples:
Waze. This is a real-time crowdsourced map and navigation tool. If you drive this is a must-have app that reroutes you based on what other “Wazers” are experiencing and reporting in terms of traffic speeds. With 30 million users around the world including an estimated 50 percent of all drivers in Israel, you can imagine the amount of data the app is able to collect about users. The average use time of the app is over seven hours per month. Throughout those seven hours it is tracking where you are heading, where you came from, and where you are at that moment. It knows if you are going to a restaurant, to work, to a different city, etc. While this isn’t a traditional “check-in,” the app is able to see what people are searching for and then traveling to. Waze has started to offer promotions in its app for certain restaurants or gas stations. I would imagine over time it will be able to begin to target advertising to users based on where they have been and what they like. If you know I often go to Italian restaurants and a new Italian restaurant opens up around my office, a promotion or offer for that restaurant can be highly targeted (from the advertiser’s perspective) and highly relevant (from the consumer’s standpoint). It is only a matter of time before Waze starts taking advantage of this. Again, it has over seven (!) hours per month to deliver these targeted “recommendations.”
Here On Biz. This app leverages LinkedIn to alert you when people within your network (or just other LinkedIn members) are in the same area as you. This could be an event, conference, hotel, etc. Again, a less traditional “check-in” but a way to connect people in the real world and not just digital. There have been a number of times when I find myself in a city only to later discover a friend or colleague was also in town at that same time and neither one of us knew it. From a marketer’s perspective I think this could have implications, especially in the B2B world. For example, while at a conference you could look to identify people from a company you want to work with and see who is there, what their titles are, and what they look like to then introduce yourself and make contact.
Rewind.Me. This is my favorite of the bunch and my new favorite app on my phone. It takes all your check-ins across Facebook, Foursquare, and Instagram (with more to come according to its site) and puts them in one place and allows you to search through those past check-ins or your friends’ check-ins (if they allow it). CEO Craig Danuloff described it as “Klout for the real world” in a recent USA Today article by Jon Swartz.
I have used this a number of times to find that great restaurant I went to last year in a random city that I want to send a friend to. Think of it as a DVR for your life – where you have been and what you have experienced. When you open the app it shows you what you did on the same day last year if you had some check-ins. You can also look at places you have checked in around you based on your current location – that great pub somewhere near Covent Garden in London that you visited six months before. What makes Rewind.Me interesting is the scoring that it does around 300 categories like airports, art galleries, steakhouses, etc., giving you a score (called R:Factor) ranging from one to 100 comparing you to others using Rewind.Me. Where this really becomes interesting is how it can then tune offers to people with different scores in those categories. So as a marketer I could say I want to give people with a score of 70+ (in a related or complementary category) an offer, discount, or other incentive. Smart marketers will figure out how to target their messaging based on a combination of scores within some of those 300 categories.
Each of these examples looks at different ways of thinking about and leveraging check-ins and people’s interests wherever they are. They all benefit the consumer while also opening up a lot of doors for marketers to better target their messaging.
What these groups are able to do in terms of providing value to consumers (as well as gamification in the case of Waze and Rewind.Me) and potentially creating considerable opportunities to marketers is amazing.