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Procter & Gamble should be kicking itself for not developing a mobile operating system when it had the chance: More people worldwide own mobile phones than toothbrushes. Get ready for a tsunami of mobile marketing and commerce to crash on the shores of retail.
The beauty of mobile devices from a marketing perspective is that you can reach consumers at a more personal level – right in their pockets. The Holy Grail of marketers used to be a home telephone number and address. Direct mail and telemarketing, despite being some of the most hated forms of advertising, are historically effective. Now mobile takes marketers closer to consumers than direct mail ever will.
But mobile isn’t just one marketing channel. It’s several. Think about how you use your smartphone. You use apps, you search the Net, you visit websites. You text friends and family.
“The challenge for global brands in mobile is finding relevancy to the various activities a consumer may be performing at any given time. The misconception is that mobile is a new marketing channel, when in reality it is several new channels, all with vastly different implications for brand marketers,” said Jeff Peden, CEO of Boston-based local advertising startup Crave Labs.
The trend toward mobile marketing and commerce is significant, and it’s only going to grow. According to research firm Deloitte, 19% of merchants said they plan to invest $100,000 or more on mobile platforms. The money will go toward building apps, delivering through the various marketing channels that mobile affords and providing services for other businesses. About 22.5% of businesses are seeing the most traction in business-to-business mobile solutions while 33.7% are gaining mobile momentum in the business-to-consumer sector. Overall, 37% of enterprise companies have seen significant impact on their top and bottom line revenue through mobile.
Reaching consumers is a big part of the game, but it is only a start. The goal is to generate transactions. This is where relevance comes in. How do marketers achieve relevance through mobile?
“Tying into the context of the consumer (location, time of day, et cetera) improves relevancy in these cases,” Peden said. “In the case of search, brands should be directing consumers to the closest place of action, turning that immediate local intent into a physical transaction. In other modes, such as gaming or video, the content of an ad has to be just as rich and compelling as the app in which it’s running.”
These observations aren’t just theoretical. Nearly 29% of consumers who research a product in a retail location through a smartphone end up purchasing that product online. Mobile commerce is expected to be a $163 billion market by 2015. Companies that focus on mobile solutions for consumers will reap the greatest reward. Procter & Gamble could sell more toothbrushes if it used a location-aware price comparison app for shopping lists. Amazon has been a leader in price-comparison shopping and its strength in m-commerce should only grow as the ecosystem expands and smartphone users come to rely on their devices’ in-store utility.
The infographic below, courtesy of Deloitte, serves as a rough map to the biggest m-commerce opportunities for developers, brands and retailers.
The holy grail of mobile geo-location services is persistent, aware, real-time data delivered straight to your device. It is incredibly difficult to pull off. Especially if the idea is to, “give you vision beyond the Greek gods.” Accuracy, battery life and location-aware push messaging are hard to build and even harder to implement on a scalable basis.
Portland-based startup Geoloqi thinks it can pull it off. The startup is aiming to give rich location data to enterprise and government customers through a release of a new SDK for Android and iOS an API. The idea is to turn complicated real-time location-aware data into a platform that developers can drop into any app.
Geoloqi’s goal is to disrupt the first generation of location services, according to founder Amber Case. That means the Foursquares of the world are put on notice. The Geoloqi platform will provide cross-platform SDKs that are mobile carrier agnostic. It can track location in real-time and provide analytics on users and their location data and history. Enterprises, retailers and government agencies can create geo-fences, push messages and visitor metrics.
Right: Amber Case
The biggest innovation for Geoloqi may be its battery saving properties. Case said that in a couple instances the company wrote the code that connects a device its backend infrastructure was written in binary code to make it as lightweight as possible.
“Some of the systems that we have added to build or extend out the systems we have to actually make it work, in some of the cases we have actually written it down in binary so we can actually get a small enough packet size off the phone connecting to the server so we can reduce the battery life drain and have less connections. The server architecture, which is a custom-server architecture is scalable to our base,” Case said.
After Geoloqi launched it rapidly found that its clientele was not going to be end-users and fellow mobile developers. Enterprises and government were the most interested parties because that is no easy system for creating location-aware real-time data.
“We are not selling an app, we are selling a platform system. So, if an enterprise or a retailer already has an app location, it just allows them to just plug it in and have location taken care of,” Case said. “People really wanted to add these aspects to their apps and carriers understood that their existing enterprise and government customers were asking for something more real time and they were not able to provide it. So, they started calling us up and asking for a sort of hybrid solution so they could better serve their existing customers.”
The dream of location-aware data is “The Starbuck Dilemma.” In the Starbuck scenario, a user walks by one of the popular coffee houses and their device will recognize where it is and send a push-notification to the user. It is a mix of geo-fencing, push and real-time marketing that is delivered straight to the user’s pocket. There is power in proximity marketing.
“The key story in this place is that I want to go by Starbucks and have a location-based message. That story has been there for 20 years but it is very difficult to implement,” Case said.
As a platform, the intention is for customers to build on top of Geoloqi to provide the type of data location that the first generation providers cannot deliver. The next step is to provide analytics on top of that and enable enterprises targeted marketing like never before.
“We are really focusing on enterprise. This might be a silly analogy but what Salesforce did for CRM, making it really easy and painless for the enterprise, we want to do that for the enterprise for location and really make a bridge between that old guard of location services and real time, much higher functionality, much higher resolution location services,” Case said.
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