Archive for category Directional
Location-based services have popped up everywhere over the past few years. Most of us can look back to the first views of Earth from above with Google Earth (grainy, patchy images that our dial up connection struggled with) and laugh a little. Now, LBS is everywhere.
We think LBS is interesting, obviously. But I was flicking through the McKinsey ‘big data’ report and saw this.
What the…? How did McKinsey get to this number?
Turns out, McKinsey used their super brains and super computers to ‘look at the value chain of location-based applications‘. They looked at the amount of data generation and the potential value created.
- amount of data generated across regions, user behaviour, and frequency of use.
- the value chain of LBS. How do individual consumers use and benefit from LBS? How do enterprises or governments benefit?
McKinsey themselves say that their estimation is conservative, and it could well be more. But if you think about the process of using a personal navigation device, you’ll immediately see the value of time saving, fuel consumption reduction.
Other types of LBS like check-in services (Facebook Places, Foursquare etc), local information sourcing tools (LocalMind, Neer), and community noticeboards and news sites (EveryBlock etc) also add value and decrease costs in many ways. One of those is increased marketing relevancy. We can (and have) discuss the balance of personal data privacy vs openness, but the fact remains that as people become more permissive about what they will share openly, we marketers have more opportunities to communicate more effectively, meaning more ££ spent in the right place, less wastage, and better results. And that’s something we can all get behind.
When you buy a car, suddenly you start noticing all the other cars that are the same as yours, so much so that you’re convinced that there are more than there were before.
The transition between marketing ‘generally’ and then marketing ‘locally’ is similar. When you’re working in an agency that specialises in Local Marketing, suddenly you wonder how you missed all the stuff going on in the Local Marketing space. It’s so fundamentally obvious that in the battle for relevancy, proximity matters. Everywhere you look, people are talking about local – and not just as an intangible theory, but as an actual ‘thing’.
An actual ‘thing’, you say?
A highlight of the series of Maroon Peugeot 307s is the launch of a new US hyper-local industry trade publication StreetFight a few days ago. They’ve positioned the service as a collection of everything that’s happening in the hyper-local space, including vouchering, check in services, and local news sites. Then there’s the super-massive Patch.com hyper-local news service based in the US run by Arianna Huffington. EveryBlock (US) and StickyBoard (UK) community noticeboards have redesigned and launched respectively. Talk about Local‘s community efforts are ongoing and the Big Society ideas continue to generate meaningful conversation. These are just a few of the bigger things that are going on, but community activities and new ways to use technology to help communities engage are popping up every day. So too are hyper-local, hyper-relevant marketing opportunities.
People continue to have debates about the definition of the words hyper-local, localisation, local marketing… whatever we end up calling it in the history books, we’re part of a shift. The UK’s take on local is a little different to the US’s as pointed out wonderfully by Joni Ayn Alexander, but the main point is the same. It’s a thing.
A thing with big agencies predicting daft numbers like 42.5 billion dollars by 2015.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who hasn’t looked at a local community noticeboard for years, but I do remember a time when the notice board at my local Spar was the best place to find second hand furniture, recommendations for cleaners, and local events. And community noticeboards are the next thing to fall under an entrepreneur’s gaze and go digital.
EveryBlock – @everyblock
In his blog post about the relaunch, founder Adrian Holovaty says ‘The current crop of Web social media tools is focused on people you already know‘. Instead of focusing on existing relationships, EveryBlock connects people with a common interest – a location.
You can look up a postcode down to extreme granularity, or look for suburbs or cities, and ‘follow’ them almost like you’d follow a person on Twitter.
Users in the neighbourhoods can message each other and hold conversations almost like a discussion board or forum. EveryBlock also takes ‘stuff’ from the net and aggregates that ‘stuff’ by location. Yelp reviews, new local photos on Flickr, lost-and-found ads on Craigslist, real estate listings, local Meetups – all based on a location you’ve defined.
In short, EveryBlock amplifies the stuff already out there, just by making it hyper-local and hyper-relevant.
Mashable covered the relaunch as a community site and LostRemote also did a piece on them. It’s not available in the UK yet, and no doubt still has a lot of traction to gain in the US before it hops over to us, but you might as well head over to the homepage and vote via Twitter for London to be their next city.
StickyBoard – @stickyboard
StickyBoard ‘is based on the belief that strong communities make for a better, more fulfilling quality of life’. Users can read news, find local services, check out a calendar of events and post business reviews. Local businesses can advertise in one of several verticals, with Community groups advertising for free.
StickyBoard’s community beliefs are strong, but the website needs to get critical mass from advertisers in order to give the users a reason to be there. Given that it’s launched only a few months ago it’s hardly surprising to see empty news feeds and available advertising spaces. The first burrough was Ealing and you can see a lot more activity in that suburb than let’s say Camden.
So while EveryBlock connects local people and let’s them share community news while aggregating existing local content, StickyBoard connects local people to local businesses and events and is a platform for advertising. Both interesting, both local, both innovative.
Having a managed and curated presence on Google Maps is essential for any business. Marissa Mayer, Google Search Products VP reported at SXSW that Google Maps has over 150 billion users – 40% of those users were mobile users and therefore likely to be making decisions on the move – and quickly. While Ms Mayer appears to have fallen from grace there’s no doubt that the world loves Google Maps and if your business isn’t there, you’re missing out. Not only do you need a presence, you also need to make the content is relevant and helpful and optimised for search queries.
That’s is all well and good for one business with one Place to set up. It’s easy – it takes a few minutes, and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to do it. But if you’ve a network of local presences, you’re going to choose between crowdsourcing the task (getting each location to set up the Place account and hoping for consistency) or centralising it.
If you centralise it and have more than a few locations, you should know that managing local presences on Google Maps is an onerous task. We were posed with the question last week, and were happy to discover that Google has made it easier for brands to manage their Google Maps entries with their Maps bulk uploader.
Google have a great guide to use but here’s our quick summary a la EMO.
Step 1: Create a Google account
- Don’t use your own Gmail account or create a Google account that doesn’t match the domain of the company.
- Request an email address that matches closely to the name of the Maps entries and create a specific account to manage all Google maps for that client going forward. Either ask the client to forward these emails to you or get a specific email address to be set up that automatically forwards to you.
Step 2: Get and organise the data
- Put the data into this format and follow the directions carefully
- The file must be in format .csv, .txt, .xls, .tsv, .xlsx, and .ods
- You can select up to 5 categories for the listings so use them wisely – look at keyword recommendations to guide your choices
Step 3: Upload the spreadsheet
- Upload the spreadsheet here
Step 4: Check for errors
- After you’ve uploaded the file, you’ll be given a page of errors to correct either on the spreadsheet or on the screen
- Evaluate for missed information: Some entries will need additional information added like ‘area serviced’, which is not done in the bulk upload. Check that all information is created
Step 5: Request verification
You’ve now created the Google Places entries, but Google needs to verify them to ensure you have ongoing control over the content on the page.
- Ask Google to verify the entries by filling out the bulk verification form linked from your account.
How important is it to get your Google Places page searching well?
See this heat map, how this eye tracking study shows the focus of the viewers view and length of view on the local listings held next to the map. What I’d like to see, if anyone can find it is some research to show how long people look at the search results page, and what percentage of users ‘just click’ the first link irrespective of what else is being served. For those of you involved in advising dealers/branches/services make sure that not only they have claimed their Google Places page but that they have optimised it by putting it in the right categories (they can be in more than one) and that their titling and support content help drive the right sort of traffic.
Released today, there is a new feature on Google Places page management area. Announced on Google’s Places blog, it allows verified page owners to answer their critics in the ‘Reviews’ section. Clearly a much needed feature for the local marketer, and, carefully used, customer services issues will now be able to be quickly and professionally handled. Turning a negative into a positive, and a positive into an excellent recommendation. Typically form Google it’s ‘a bit later than you’d have liked’, but this will help everyone get a better view on the veracity of the customer’s review, and the outlet’s capability for handling customers correctly.