How does Geography inform Location Based Applications?

Geography and Location Based Applications

This article is the fourth and final part of a 4 part series on Geography’s Role in Online Internet Marketing.

How does Geography inform Location Based Applications?

Geography is a central function to a Location Based application. There are several mobile applications that require a user’s location prior to providing search results. These applications are great for gathering information on a customers commercial tendencies, but rely on a customer to opt-in to having their physical location captured.

Often times Location Based applications, such as FourSquare and Yelp!, do not actively solicit a customer to use their application and rely on the user’s interaction. They encourage users to share their location by awarding game-like achievements for frequenting a given place. They also rely on local businesses ( or Franchises ) to award coupons and discounts for check-in’s. This is advantageous as often times users have their location distributed to their social media profiles, which creates a ripple effect that could potentially be used to market a business’ products or services to a user’s internet friend base.

One disadvantage to location based applications is that their geodata tends to be fixed in a certain place. Much like physical billboards seen decorating a given street, business profiles are linked to a specified space. These spaces tend to be points composed of point data, relying on a Longitude and Latitude value and do not travel too well. This causes an issue for businesses that are mobile, such as food trucks and vendors at a farmer’s market. Most location based applications will not allow you to check-in with a given business if your location is further than a specified distance from the business’ point location.

Another geographical disadvantage to location based application is reporting. There isn’t a clean way to report on where customers are looking for a given destination. For instance, if a user is looking for a Belgian bar on a particular cross street, or if they were looking for a florist next to their work, there isn’t a way of capturing that data and exposing that back to the community. Imagine how useful this information would be to an economic development agency or a business improvement district.

Thanks a ton,
@ROB_MOR

How does Geography inform Search Engine Marketing?

Geography and Search Engine Marketing

This article is the third part of a 4 part series on Geography’s Role in Online Internet Marketing.

How does Geography inform Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing relies on geography to make sense of what marketing messages should be displayed to which potential customers.  Most platforms, like Bing, Google AdWords and Facebook, give marketers a graphical user interface in order to select target geographies for their given messages.  This allows an advertising message to developed and targeted to a specific location.

Although a search engine marketing messages can be focused on a given city, town or neighborhood doesn’t necessarily mean that the marketers craft their content in hyper local manner.  This could be due to limited knowledge of internet advertising platforms.  This could also be due to websites themselves not taking full advantage of HTML5 features that are currently available to determine the location of a user on a mobile phone or a desktop computer’s browser not pulling the most accurate IP Address location.

Measuring success of online advertising campaigns, using Bing, Google and Facebook, is oftentimes more focused on click-rates on the SEM ads themselves and conversions on a company’s website, instead of on measuring the location of the customer themselves.  Ultimately, businesses need to know where the customers are and what their buying habits and interests are.  Without having a means to effectively quantify customer location within a SEM campaign, online advertising will have to rely on communicating messages based on search habits instead of interest based on proximity.

Thanks a ton,
@ROB_MOR

How does Geography inform Search Engine Optimization?

Geography and Search Engine Optimization

This article is the second part of a 4 part series on how Geography’s Roles in Online Internet Marketing.

Search Engine Optimization is an internet marketing tool that businesses use to promote their website content.  A good SEO strategy involves all facets of a website and mixed forms of media, including rich images and videos.  However, text is the most important part to an SEO campaign.  This is due to how optimization relies on two things – search engines and websites with business content.  Search engines, such as Google and Bing!, use algorithms behind the scenes in order to provide you with the most accurate and relevant results based on your query.

How does Geography inform Search Engine Optimization?

Associating keywords with content is central to an SEO campaign.  Often times internet marketers rely on geographical references, such as a city or neighborhood, to ensure that their website ranks high among a given search result.  This is one form of geographies influence on internet marketing, but doesn’t necessarily include any sort of spatial data as to where the customer physically conducted their search from.

Sure, SEO could be used to measure the amount of times a given geographical keyword was referenced in order to bring traffic to a given website.  However, this relies on a potential customer to project their spatial identity into the search box.   This is to say, that a customer needs to think of themselves as a person in a place in order to refine their search results.  The issue here is that there are multiple cities, towns and neighborhoods that could make up a media market.

Ultimately the big advantage of internet marketing is the fragmentation of audiences.  Not just their fragmentation in taste, but their fragmentation in space.  This allows marketers to fine tune a message to a particular neighborhood, but relies on these messages being crafted in a manner that are relevant to a given place’s identity.

Thanks a ton,
@ROB_MOR

Simon Garfield plugs his new book “On the Map” with Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition

On my way into the office this morning, I caught a Morning Edition segment on my local NPR affiliate about Simon Garfield’s new book entitled “On the Map.”  Garfield spoke with Steve Inskeep about everything from Ptolemy’s affect on Columbus’ voyage, to the Mercator Projection making Greenland appear larger than Africa, despite being a fraction of the size.

Reactions to Simon Garfield discussing “On The Map” with Steve Inskeep on NPR’s Morning Edition

One thing that I thought was particularly interesting was how the conversation between Garfield and Inskeep went to what the orientation, or the focal point, of a map connoted.  They discussed how old maps of Greece focused on the Island of Rhodes due to it being a popular vacation destination for Greeks.  They also discussed how maps on Smart Phones and GPS devices largely focus on the user and as such digital maps have become more egocentric in focus.

Ultimately, it was an interesting conversation and I highly recommend tuning in.  I believe this conversation is important in understanding the contemporary role that maps have on our digital lives.

Thanks a ton,
@ROB_MOR

How does Geography inform Online Internet Marketing?

Geography and Online Internet Marketing

Location is pivotal to traditional modes of advertising communication. Traditional media campaigns are fixed in a given market and their results can be measured and visualized geographically. Newspapers have a fixed distribution. Billboards are literally connected to a physical space. Direct Mail is disseminated to address lists in Zip Codes and Carrier Route boundaries. Television and Radio markets also have fixed geographies, which makes it easier for Nielsen and Arbitron to measure their respective audiences and provide ratings information back to media buyers.

How does Geography inform Online Internet Marketing?

The Internet plays an enormous role in the Economy. Access to the World Wide Web continues to grow as people consume online content using their Desktops, Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones. Televisions and video game consoles are also increasingly providing digital content. Although some may believe the Internet economy exists independent of geography, location plays a huge role in marketing products online.

All sorts of demographic and psychogeographic analysis is conducted to make sense of traditional media markets, but how would one use geography to measure advertising communications in cyberspace?

Current trends in Online Internet Marketing, such as Search Engine Optimization (Organic Marketing), Search Engine Marketing (Paid for Marketing) and Location Based Applications already use Geography to fine tune and target their advertising messages. SEO can use geographical keywords, SEM can specify a given geography to target and Location Based Apps rely on the user’s location to provide nearby business profiles. All three forms of Online Internet Marketing listed can provide great results to businesses, but could be providing more value if they were to rethink their use of geography.

My complaint is that Online Internet Marketing platforms are not taking full advantage of geographical data and technologies. People will always exist in a physical place. And physical places are always informed by statistical demographics and psychographic analytics.

It is important for Online Internet Marketing platforms, if they want to survive, to provide more value to their growing customer base. My recommendation is to design a set of intuitive tools that can assist marketers in crafting messages that are informed by the socioeconomic landscape, no matter how big or small that landscape be.

Over the course of the next three weeks I will be reviewing “How Geography Informs” SEO, SEM and Location Based Applications.

I look forward to reading your replies, recommendations and suggestions.

Thanks a ton,
@ROB_MOR