Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Location, Utility, and Relevancy - the Magic Combination for Brands on Mobile?

There's a real opportunity in the digital space for brands to merge location-based data, utility, and relevance to create apps that provide great value to their consumers' lives.
Each June I have the privilege of joining a number of clients, partners, and co-workers in Cannes, France, for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. This is an anticipated event celebrating global creative work in the advertising industry with great speakers, events, and of course the awards.

It was both hectic and inspiring seeing what people are doing in markets large and small across mobile, social, traditional, and, of most interest, all of those together. Many others have written great articles about winners and interesting creative, but reflecting back on it, I wanted to look at the event and week from a different angle...
As mentioned, we had a number of clients as well as partners and co-workers (within our agency and within WPP) in attendance. In addition, we had a number of potential employees and clients meet. The events, speakers, and parties run all through Cannes day and night. You can walk aimlessly and find an endless number of things to do, but often it was difficult to find the right thing to do or the right people to connect with.

All of this for me comes back to the phone I have (and everyone else has) in their pocket. It knows who I am, where I am, and who I am connected with - as well as what I have planned.
The official Cannes Lions app (created by EventBase, who also does the app for SXSW) was solid. They for the first time at Cannes leveraged iBeacons to welcome people into the main venue called The Palais and also within a few other key events, and of course had the formal guide for the event in which you could save sessions, etc. For an event app it was good and did all the things it should for the main event.
The problem is that many of the people attending the week may not have an official badge for the event, as they are there for client workshops or other Cannes Lions-related activities. And many of those activities such as a small "fireside chat" with Marissa Mayer were not part of the official program or in the app.
Now, I am not saying that that is the responsibility of the official festival app, as their job is to promote the official events. But as an attendee I was struggling with finding ways to connect with and meet up with the people I know there and to attend the events (official and unofficial) that mattered to me. It feels like there is a real opportunity to connect all of these things - not only at Cannes - but at other events (hint, hint LinkedIn). From a marketer's perspective, you may have a private event and want to target people in certain industries or job titles. With something like this you could use location (proximity) as well as time of day (are they night owls or early to bed?) as well as title and interests to make the offers or promotions more relevant to your audience.
What does all of this have to do with us as marketers? Most of the conversations brands are having are about how to target promotions or advertising. While I am not against those two things, we as marketers must make sure we are adding value to our target audiences. The magic of mobile and impact of location-based information is in relevancy and utility to the consumer. Consumers have shown they will engage with brands through mobile, but to do so on a regular basis there must be value to them as consumers. Think about what Nike has done with their running app or Starbucks around paying with your phone (as well as the free music and apps) and of course they "help" you find the nearest Starbucks for your daily fix.
If brands can find ways to better combine solutions around true utility (that helps consumers) as well as relevancy, they will be successful. But we must consider the entire picture of what matters to consumers to solve/help first, and then later on the relevant brand messaging.

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