Written on February 14, 2009 by Manuel Alonso Coto in E-MARKETING

Google has just launched a new program called Google Latitude which is an extension of their popular mobile Google Maps application. Essentially the new system extends Mobile Google Maps to provide real time location information for friends that you have chosen to follow and in turn have allowed you to follow them. Images of friends you are following appear on the map so you can see where they are at any given moment. You can also quickly interact with anyone you are monitoring through GTalk, SMS or Gmail.

There is no doubt that it could be a bit stalker’ish but since it is 100% opt-in it is not so bad in my opinion (at least one privacy group feels otherwise). To increase privacy options Google was smart enough to include the ability to broadly change privacy settings to either stop everyone’s viewing of your location entirely or just provide the city you are in. You can even manually select the location you are at instead of having it show automatically – a great option if you need to be appear to be somewhere else or you simply don’t have enough connectivity to show your location automatically.

But we are talking about marketing here. Let’s take a moment to consider just what a company with the reach of Google could do with the data it is undoubtedly collecting right now from the travel habits revealed by Latitude users. It sure can get our creative juices working since it could take mobile advertising to the next level…

As soon as Google wanted to it could adapt a pay-per-click service for Google Maps where merchants with Google local profiles could pay to get a Latitude user’s attention. Then whenever you happened to be nearby a paying merchant you would see their business appear with a certain icon… say a “$” which means the store is having a sale. This could get out of hand if a ton of merchants happened to advertise in the same area but that can easily be dealt with by:

* Limiting the businesses that show up based on the map’s zoom level – to keep down the clutter.
* Rotating the ads to give advertisers play time based on their ad budget just as Google does with Adwords.
* Enforce day-parting based on the store hours of each advertising business. This would be a great way to ensure that night-establishments such as nightclubs and restaurants get their fair shake at some map space during the twilight hours when 9-5 businesses are lights-out.

What do you think, my friends?


Manuel A. Alonso Coto

Ps. By the way, we’ll be dicussing this and other hot issues about Digital Marketing & Advertising in our third yearly forum next week. Hope to meet you there!


Juan Secin February 19, 2009 - 1:57 pm

Google is clearly conquering each and every market they can. They managed to develop GoogleMaps and push it deeply into every single new mobile device and, starting with the iPhone, they managed to set a standard. They are managing to push it into mobile devices which don’t yet have a truly functional native application (though soon they will) such as the brand new Palm Pre ( http://tinyurl.com/b26d75 ). They managed to develop a mobile version using HTML 5 and “faking” nativity successfully. They are doing an amazing job to create awareness.
My point is… They are creating a standard; they are making the average user aware of their presence and ease of use. The second obvious step was to develop enhanced functionality. Latitude is filling an empty spot with few “real” competitors.
I personally think Latitude is just the first step for real and customized mobile marketing. Everything depends on how Google decides to manage, on the near future, their potential “privacy issues” and how much control they want to give to the Latitude users.

The market will start demanding more and more customization. Traditional marketing is bleeding asking for “fast-taylor-made campaigns”…

How Google Latitude could help? This is my bet:

– 3D marketing campaigns using Adwords covering both web and mobile
– The ability to tag places, share them and find related interesting places
– Set a radius (established by the user), filter it, and show precise information about places the user searches for or “may be interested in”.
– Customized mobile search engines and maaany new cookies for our mobile browsers
– The ability to develop customized applications for each user depending on their position
– Apply a new synergy concept (similar to the one the Pre is using)
– Show and filter ads depending on our friends position (not just our own).
– Rotating notification campaigns on the bottom of the screen.

We will see… Google needs to decide till what extent they want to compromise their Latitude usability and performance and how much they want to monetize it. Personally, I think they will wait a couple of years till they have a decent mobile user database and till android penetrates the market and our minds.

Juan S.
Instituto de Empresa – MIM09

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