Future of Location Based Apps


Location-based apps are one of the newest frontiers in Digital Marketing. Google Maps, Foursquare, even Twitter are in on the “check-in” game. On platforms like Foursquare, users can see who is currently checked into a place, leave messages there, and receive incentives for checking in. Twitter and Google allow location broadcasting to approved friends. But where is this technology going? I did some deep digging to find out.

1. Tracking
Tracking on social Web sites is not new. We have all heard cautionary tales about Joe Inappropriate losing his job over an indecent picture his company found on Facebook or Jane Toomuchinformation missing out on a second interview because of too many updates on Twitter about how much she hates her current job. Location based tracking seems to be ahead. ZDnet suggests that insurance companies or assessors may be able to use your check in history to determine risk factors and rates. If you were to check into multiple bars every night for 2 months and you don’t own one, this might be an issue for you. It’s not all bad though, an auto insurer could set up a maintenance check-in program that tracks how often your car’s oil is changed or whether or if you check in to a car seat inspection station.

2. Real-time coupons
Some Web sites, like Foursquare, are already in the infant stages of adopting this technology. As a user checks in, incentives, or coupons, are shown for his or her presence. However, Mobile Commerce Daily has reported that Where, another location-based site has introduced location-based, real-time mobile deal alerts. “[Where’s] deal alerts service pushes mobile coupons and discounts to consumers based on preference and location.” For instance, let’s say I have selected to receive alerts from Ingenex Digital Marketing on Where. 2 weeks later, I walk past Ingenex and my text alert goes off. It reads:

Hey there friend! Ingenex Digital is offering a free cup of coffee when you stop in and say “Hello!”

The text service is free but regular text messaging rates apply, but for most of us, that really shouldn’t be an issue anymore. Business owners could have the ability to schedule daily offer changes and control the amount of time the coupon is active.

3. Tourism
Why not make being a tourist a little bit easier. Gowalla seems to be the predominant player in this so far. Users can create “trips” with check in points. The site features sponsored tours by University of Oklahoma and National Geographic. Not many other players have embraced the tourism possibilities and with Gowalla’s page visits down approximately 45% in the past two months, the possibility of dying in the shadows of Foursquare and Google Latitude grows stronger. Roseindia, a leader in Web tutorials, offers a few points for utilizing location-based tourism. Based on your GPS, a platform that provides traffic information, weather updates, local information, city guides and check-in spots could possibly be available in the near future for tourists with smartphones.

The landscape of local-based applications is wide open for innovation. Tracking, real-time coupons, and tourism are all areas that apps are beginning to target. So, what would you like to see come to fruition?  Any ideas?