Outside the media: the geofenced future of advertising

Paul Raven @ 25-02-2010

Geolocation + smartphones + permission marketing – [old media channels] = ?

The campaign was created by Placecast, a location-based mobile ad company in San Francisco. It uses a practice called geo-fencing, which draws a virtual perimeter around a particular location. When someone steps into the geo-fenced area, a text message is sent, but only if consumers have opted in to receive messages.

[…]

Placecast created 1,000 geo-fences in and around New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Boston, cities where the North Face has many stores and areas that get a lot of snow or rain, so the company can tailor its messages to the weather. In urban areas, the fences are up to half a mile around stores, and in suburban areas they are up to a mile around stores.

Stowe Boyd reckons it’ll stick, and I’m inclined to agree.

It is going to be huge, especially with young people who text preferentially over talking on their phones. And of course, the retailers will pay for the messages.

And even better than come-ons like these will be the coupons. I am driving past the local Giant supermaket, and I get a text message with an attachment: 2 coupons for brands that I have registered at the Giant website. […]

But what Miller completely forgets to mention is that this is direct advertising, like direct mail was. This will end run the media companies who have made their bread and butter from advertising and coupons. If Domino’s can text me a code to get two pizzas half off today, why would the[y] advertise in the local paper?

If the future of advertising is direct and opt-in, through mobile devices to the consumer, the media lose the support of retail and local advertisers.

Yes, consumers still need to learn about PF Chiangs in the first place, but that is much more likely to be a direct experience, too, like going there with friends and then signing up for text-based promotions because it’s mentioned on the menu, or a friend uses a coupon or discount code.

The future of advertising is moving outside of media, and that’s another nail in the coffin for traditional print media.

And of course, there’ll be ways to game the locational ads system, too; step beyond the text message coupons and into mobile map apps, and suddenly there’s an incentive not to send you by the shortest route, but by the most lucrative – a brainwave courtesy of Jan Chipchase, caught in traffic in Virginia:

… the result I suspect of a sat-nav that decided that every possible road-works was a Point of Interest. Which might sound a bit far fetched today, until you consider that someone somewhere is drawing on ever more reams of data to serve up your your route – and someone else somewhere else is using every tool in their disposable to cajole individuals of interest past places ‘of interest’.

When the company pitching you advertising *also* calculates the most ‘efficient’ route to take from A to B you need to ask the criteria by wh[ich] efficiency is measured. And keep asking – the answer will likely change with the ebb and flow of financial results.

Of course, you could always turn off your phone, foregoing the navigational assistance in exchange for freedom from interstitial marketing. But then there’s a 93% chance that your route will be guessed by analysis of your previous movements, so you might as well leave it on and hope for a good open-source ad-blocker app…

… though this is almost certainly more worth worrying about than geolocational robbery crews.


First mobile phone botnet spotted in the wild?

Paul Raven @ 21-07-2009

mobile phoneEver find yourself wishing your phone could run the same software as your home computer? Well, at least they are now both susceptible to becoming part of a botnet, as the first known centrally-controlled mobile phone virus has been spotted in the wild:

Sexy Space uses text messages reading “A very sexy girl, Try it now!” to jump between phones. The messages contains a link that, when clicked, asks the user to download software which, once installed, sends the same message to contacts stored in the phone.

Similar SMS viruses have been seen before. But Sexy Space is unusual in that it also communicates with a central server and can thus be controlled by the hackers who created it – the feature that gives conventional botnets their power. If the network of infected phones is seen to be responding to remote commands, it can be described as a true botnet.

Brilliant. Given that recent research suggests more than 50% of computer users have clicked on a link in a spam email, we can evidently look forward to our back pockets being the next frontier for badly-spelled importunings from bootleg pharmacies and an inconceivable number of non-existent Nigerian government officials. [image by Bah Humbug]

[The first smug Apple fanboy to post an evangelical comment will incur the wrath of my crack team of Estonian DDOS experts. If the capability to not have to use your common sense to avoid viruses is really worth the hardware premium you pay for the privilege, I suggest basking silently in the glow of your own self-satisfaction.]


The Rise and Fall of Answering Machines

Sarah Ennals @ 18-01-2009

The Rise and Fall of Answering Machines - Does Not Equal

Does Not Equal is a webcomic by Sarah Ennalscheck out the pre-Futurismic archives, and the strips that have been published here previously.

[ Be sure to check out the Does Not Equal Cafepress store for webcomic merchandise featuring Canadians with geometrically-shaped heads! ]


Facet – open source swarming smart-phone software

Paul Raven @ 17-01-2008

Cellphone This one must have passed me by at the time, but Warren Ellis’s team of future-culture hounds at grinding.be have brought it to my attention. A New Scientist article from October 2007 talks about Facet, an open source software project that networks mobile phone cameras over Bluetooth:

“To test the software, the researchers attached four phones running Facet to the ceiling of a corridor in their department. The phones were angled so that the camera of each could see a different part of the corridor and so that they could all see peopling walking past.

Whenever a phone detects an object entering or exiting its field of view, it sends a message via Bluetooth to alert the phones on either side. These phones, in turn, pass the message on to other nearby handsets so that eventually the entire network receives the message.

One handset on the network also reports this information to a computer over a normal GPRS cellphone connection.

Each phone determines the distance to its nearest neighbour. The phones currently use the average speed people walk to guess the distances between themselves, based on how long people take to move from one phone’s view to another’s.”

That would put fairly top-range surveillance capabilities into the hands of street-level operations. Maybe the only logical response to nation-states with endemic surveillance of citizens is for the citizens to start watching the watchers? [Image by Asim Bijarani]

[tags]phone, technology, surveillance, open source[/tags]