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,