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,


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,