Saturday, 12 December 2009

Get ready for Local Mobile Marketing - New Tools to Reach Your Local Market.

Using mobile devices to deliver local business information in situ, applications are being developed to allow mere mortals to browse the data warehouses of the internet gods. So, local businesses get ready - the future of direct marketing is right outside your front door - literally.

Earlier this week Google announced the launch of a new concept, which seeks to unite brick and mortar businesses with online social networking and online local business information. By placing a small sticker with a bar code in their shop, restaurant or bar windows, local businesses can enable a potential customer to access internet reviews and real-time information about the business using their mobile phone - opening the opportunity for direct marketing and live adverts in an entirely new and accessible way.

One hundred thousand local businesses in fifty major US cities have been invited to join the "Google Favourite Place" effort. Once signed up, each business will have their own "Place Page", which is then accessible from any mobile device by scanning a unique QR code found on the Google Favourite Place sticker.

This initiative will make local information accessible in a way never before seen. It may also be the realisation of a long-standing prediction that mobile phones and handheld devices are the new frontier in advertising and on-the-spot marketing. And this time it just might succeed because it's the customer requesting the information rather than the business pushing it out. Once the idea has been tested, launching the effort will require a minimum investment and customer buy-in as the receiver, the information and the delivery method already exist.

Not only will this enhance information delivery, but Google's Favourite Places will help smaller businesses get listed and displayed on Favourite Places and Google Maps making them both more visible and their service history more accessible. And for customers and business alike, discovering local "gems" or avoiding "tourist traps" needn't require a local expert. With Favourite Places anyone can easily tap into a community of local connoisseurs and find what they are looking for in the urban haystack.

As with many Google initiatives, Google Favourite Places is limited to use within the US. For now. However, after an initial testing period we fully expect to see stickers in the windows of local business in major cities around the world. See it below:

The question of course is will Yahoo or Bing follow in Google's footsteps? Most surely they will. But as the vanguard, Google places itself at the cutting edge of innovation and wins the hearts (and pockets) of many. Launching this, along with many other new tools and applications, Google connects the wealth of knowledge available to businesses and their customers in a way that would have been far-fetched, at best less than a decade ago.

Another company who is changing our perception of what is possible is a Dutch company called Layar. Layar is a mobile application which uses what is called Augmented Reality to place more information at the fingertips of mobile users.

Augmented reality does exactly what is says on the tin - it enhances reality as we know it. The application adds a new dimension to browsing in real time by using the camera lens on any mobile device to give the viewer more information about their surroundings than is visible to the naked eye. Take home buying or house letting as an example. With the help of "Layar" when standing on a particular street a user can view which homes are for sale, see their prices, square metres and specifications - all through the lens of a camera phone. What's more you can programme your personal search criteria and set a price floor and ceiling or whether you are looking to buy or rent. The applications for this type of interface seem endless. Virtual Advertising and sales does not get much more instant or real time than this.

Thousands of projects like this are springing up around the world using mobile phones as the interfacing and information delivery device - and for good reason, too. Research suggests that people more often leave their home without their house keys or their wallets than without their mobile phones. Our mobiles bond us to the world and enable what has become known as pervasive communication - always-on and constantly connected. With so many new applications popping up, the prediction that the mobile phone will take this "pervasive" communication to the next level seems to be coming true. What yesterday seemed unbelievable today seems unavoidable.

Want to know how you can monetise your business via mobile devices or networked devices, contact us today!

by Velit Dundar and Iselin Skogland

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