Category: Location Based Marketing / Mobile Commerce

Following the previous weeks, launch of Morgan McKinley “Tech Tuesday” event, ( Tech Tuesday ) we where to launch Morgan McKinley’s Mobile Monday.

A lot of organising had went into this event so as it approached there’s was a mix of emotions… Excitement and nerves.

Excited for the excellent speakers and networking but also apprehensive… Would people show up? Would the pizza arrive on time? Had we ordered enough drinks? Do we have enough goodie bags to go around? Will the projector work? Will I fluff my lines?

Lucky enough, the reception area at Morgan McKinley quickly filled up with aprox 80 Mobile Monday members.

I was to be the first speaker. My intention was to keep it brief, the basic message being that, although proud of the ongoing partnership, the evening was not about Morgan McKinley, it was about Mobile Monday.


Next time around, I will have more time to develop a little more on the state of the recruitment market for Mobile. Not just to state facts and figures but also to offer Our market experience and knowledge, trends and sentiment. Some of the questions from the floor where eg; that sounds great, but how much will it cost. As such, I can give an insight into that too.


Finishing up my speech, I welcomed Norbert Sagnard.


Norbert gave a brief intro to Mobile Monday, it’s history etc. It originated from Helsinki, Finland, the same country as Nokia, remember them, he quipped.

Kevin Foley, Co-founder & Director of, which was established in 2009 to help companies engage with their customers on mobile, tablet and web. specialises in digital advertising and publishing, helping customers both profit from the opportunities and triumph over the challenges offered by the rapidly changing world of digital media.

Kevin Foley, Co-founder & Director of, which was established in 2009 to help companies engage with their customers on mobile, tablet and web. specialises in digital advertising and publishing, helping customers both profit from the opportunities and triumph over the challenges offered by the rapidly changing world of digital media.

The first Keynote was Kevin Foley of I had attended another event ( See my blog here )  where another Co-founder ( Colm Grealy) of Adforce had spoken, I knew these guys where doing great work.

Some facts disclosed included; 1.2 million Irish people go online daily, using a mobile device and for an average of 9.2 hours per week.

Kevin showed the audience some of Adforces handy work, mobile web apps they have created. Mostly via HTML5 as opposed to native apps, “it’s all about HTML5”, Kevin said.

3G is helping support rich media and better apps. For example, whereas before developers might have to use lower resolution Gifs etc, HTML5 can support rich media. That said, the environment will be taken into account when developing. For example, if the intended app will likely be used by commuters on Irishrail wifi, it may be more simplistic than those apps which will be used more commonly in a stronger connection area or wifi, eg at home.

The audience where impressed by their showcase of apps. The inevitable question arose, how much, what is the cost. I can understand Kevin’s hesitance to answer to the wide audience but he is right in that, it depends.

Rest assured though, any marketing spend will be tracked and measured via various analytic packages. When dealing with a web/mobile/ad agency clients will seek third party verification. Tools like Flurry and Doubleclick offer this. The message was that Everything (including budget spend and ROI) is accountable once we have URL.

Kevin talked about typical engagement rates. For example, typical desktop banner ads have an average of 0.01, whereas mobile typically has 5 times more than web. According to Kevin, he has never seen it below 0.05 on mobile.

He discussed that, even in games, there is often an aim to reach a data capture point. For example, he showed a game ad app built for Jaguar. Aimed at males, it allowed you to mimic sitting in the car and press the accelerator, giving the user the exhilarating sound of the roaring exhaust. Kevin noted that people won’t buy a car via mobile web, instead the data capture point may be a form at the end; eg, enter your details so a dealer can contact you if you are a sales prospect, the intention being, bring the prospect to the showroom or for a test drive.

He also talked about 2nd screen interaction, something which would later surface in Julian Doulas’ talk. In relation to this he cited Shazam as a marketing tool, particularly useful where other media have an ad with music playing and the shazam logo on it, eg a TV advert. It helps make ads more interactive. Shazam is of course the app which can tell you the name and title of a song playing in the background, and even give an option to purchase the track.

This is not just a novelty, 1 million people in Ireland use it, or at least have it on their phones. That’s a big % of the population.

Julian Douglas, Founder & MD at, the most up to date entertainment based website in the country, bringing the latest movie & music news, celebrity gossip, cinema listings and fantastic competitions. is part of The Electric Media’s Mobile & App Network.

Julian Douglas, Founder & MD at, the most up to date entertainment based website in the country, bringing the latest movie & music news, celebrity gossip, cinema listings and fantastic competitions. is part of The Electric Media’s Mobile & App Network.

Next up was Julian Douglas, Founder and MD of the brilliant company that is;

I am raging that I missed some of this, as I was tending to pizza deliveries and putting out the beers.

From what I did witness, I liked.    Julian Is a really confident speaker and spoke with passion and great pride, and so he should, for anyone who have used their apps or sites will know how useful they are.

He pondered whether the right move would be to include advertising in the apps or instead drive them towards their responsive design sites. Nobody likes ads disrupting their experience, especially when the screen is so small.

He talked about second screening and gave a great example as to how optimising user experience is key to users adopting your product. He gave an interesting example where UPC customers use the TV guide app whilst watching TV, despite UPC having their own guide. Why? Well at least in part, because its simple to use, they have a great User interface which users like.

He went on to discuss how things need to be simple on mobile. He discussed why offer various apps, they split up their online offering, across different apps, eg TV guide, cinema listings etc.

He acknowledged however that the app needs to offer real value, “people’s phones are just cluttered with apps”.

He warned too that, although apps are great, that they will have their day. The Internet will come up with something cooler.

Tony McCarthy is the founder & CEO of Mobile Media Placement, a Cork company that creates interactive and entertaining game-based advertising for brands that the people will love even more.

Tony McCarthy is the founder & CEO of Mobile Media Placement, a Cork company that creates interactive and entertaining game-based advertising for brands that the people will love even more.

Banner Ads absolutely suck! That was how Tony McCarthy of Began his talk. He said that although mobile advertising is effective, banner ads don’t work in gaming.

He stated that across almost every major market that more time is spent in gaming than is in social networking, with the largest growth area being stay at home mothers.

The gaming market is a busy one and highly competitive. When you shift your focus from the blockbuster titles such as TempleRun (product placement idea for that game would be let the character consume eg a bottle of Lucozade for added energy burst) candy crush, and Angry Birds(Samsung have just signed up for product placement rights) the average return for a game is actually very low. Product placement or at least clever in game advertising, which doesn’t negatively impact user experience, is a viable revenue stream.

Ok, so banner ads don’t work too well, what does? Well, are banking on in game product placement/advertising. are a recent start up that intend to build games and eventually sell advertising space in the game. For example, take a boxing game… The user’s undivided attention is focused on the game. If there is an advertisement pasted onto the canvas of the ring, the users will notice it.

Another prototype example is a driving game where advertising space could be sold, like billboards. A novel idea for this was that they intend to use this driving game and sell advertising to pizza delivery brands. The idea is that you drive the root and if you beat the actual delivery man, you get the pizza for free.

There where questions from the audience from Zynga employees which questioned the legal and ethical issues relating to marketing towards kids. The marketers in the crowd wanted to know volumes of impressions but more importantly, how this would be traced and measured.

My main concern for this business leads back to a statement which Julian Douglas made about his own business. It all begins with good content, content is everything, content is King. For a start up like this to succeed it will all depend on the quality of their games and the volume of users they can attract. Only after achieving this tipping point, will the marketing vehicle truly take off. The gamer will adopt the game, primarily based on the perceived quality of the game itself.

It seemed to me that the focus was on the advertising, whereas in my opinion, the primary focus should be on creating the games themselves.

I look forward to seeing how get on. There’s no doubt that if somebody can make it work, it will their proud owner; Tony McCarthy. It would be fantastic to see another indigenous gaming company succeed, i really hope it takes off for them.



Between the coming and goings and running out to organise the room for intervals etc, I didn’t catch all of the talks, but from what I did get, I was impressed. Really good content and definitely the most interactive event I’ve come across, lots and lots of audience engagement and questions from the floor, a great buzz and banter.

Momo reception

Thanks all for coming and I look forward to seeing you at the next one!


Momo (Mobile Monday) Dublin had their latest event last Tuesday. Why on a Tuesday? Well, because “we are 6 days ahead of ourselves” quipped the event’s host; Ben Hurley (COO of NDRC)


The event kicked off with an excellent introduction by Mr. Hurley.

Soon after, Donald Hawrath of comScore took the stage and gave a well informed picture of mobile trends. His slides from the day can be accessed here;

This led into the first panel discussion, titled; “Making Mobile Platforms Work.” Making up the panel where; Keith Davey of Marino Software, Aisling McCabe from RTE Digital, Gary Leyden of NDRC and Mr Hawrath.

Donald Hawarth fromcomScore, Aisling McCabe from RTÉ Digital, Keith Davey from Marino Software and Gary Leyden from the NDRC.

Donald Hawarth fromcomScore, Aisling McCabe from RTÉ Digital, Keith Davey from Marino Software and Gary Leyden from the NDRC.



This gave us the app developer’s insight. It reminded us that users control how they consume content, across multiple platforms. Each of the panel members gave evidence of how vital the user experience is, regardless of the platform. They also reminded us that, the ecosystem is moving so quickly, and that the Industry has to adapt.

RTE Digital attributed its success to 3 points; 1.) Good quality content, 2.) Knowing the audience, 3.) accessibility via multiple devices.

The next panel discussed the mobile app environment, both from a B2B and a B2C perspective.

Brendan Bourke from Radical, Brendan Conway from iMob Media, Elaine Robison from Meteor, Conor Mullen from RTÉ Digital, and Bruce Bale from Facebook

Brendan Bourke from Radical, Brendan Conway from iMob Media, Elaine Robison from Meteor, Conor Mullen from RTÉ Digital, and Bruce Bale from Facebook


I found it interesting when Conor Mullen of RTE stated that the majority (63%) of online users of rte are mobile.  (Mobile and tablet)

 Interesting as well, was where Brendan Conway discussed location based and proximity marketing – “we now have the delivery mechanism in our back pocket”. This is a topic I blogged about previously, see

It was however, the next panel discussion which I found the most interesting.

Rob Cumiskey and Tim Arnold of Hailo, James Whelton from Coder Dojo and Joe Drumgoole of Feed Henry.

Rob Cumiskey and Tim Arnold of Hailo, James Whelton from Coder Dojo and Joe Drumgoole of Feed Henry.


Joe Drumgoole of Feedhenry discussed how Enterprise clients are demanding the same quality as what they have seen in consumer markets.

He also chimed in on the BYOD debate. He said, people can debate it all they want, the fact remains that employees will continue to bring their own devices to work. He stated that, whether he is an advocate of BYOD or not, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that it is happening anyway. He went on to say that it’s expensive to buy devices for employees, so why not embrace it by mobilizing them for their own devices. He made an interesting prediction by saying that soon, large enterprises will have App stores on their corporate intranets, for employees to download what they need, to their own devices.

James Whelton of coder dojo discussed how kids are becoming more interested in web and mobile, a really positive message which was well received by the attendees.

The gents from Hailo brought the discussion back to the need for great design, and how this is key to delivering successful apps, whether native or hybrid.

It’s an ongoing challenge. The most frequently asked questions which Hailo’s customer support teams receive are actually enquiries about functionality which IS in the app. Mobile UX is crucial. The rhetorical question rang out across the room; “how do we use the real estate on the screen, it’s a small screen”.

It was interesting as well because following the Coderdojo talk, the panel where discussing digital natives. Hailo reminds us however, that its not all about digital natives. In fact, they told us the average age of taxi drivers here is 57. Many of their users had never used apps, many didn’t even have email accounts. Their app, has to be intuitive.

The final round of talks invited some promising app makers to the stage, to introduce themselves.

Treemetrics,  Studio PowWow and Transact Carbon, Chloe Burke

Treemetrics, Studio PowWow and Transact Carbon, Chloe Burke


Of those, I found 2 particularly noteworthy.

One was Studio Pow Wow’s Richard Glynn.

It was interesting because they are different, their “World of ShipAntics” project is a little out there, and that to me, is cool. It gave a good insight as well, to monetizing apps which are designed for young people.

There is a lot of regulation around this (see Kopa). It is also challenging because, although designed for the end user ( children), the customer is actually the patent.

The real star of the show though, was Chloe Burke, the 14 year old app developer. She told us how she revolutionised the theorem market, by making maths theorems mobile.

She is a product of Coderdojo Dcu. After hearing about it on Bobby Kerr’s radio programme, she decided to check it out, and hasn’t looked back since. And why should she. She should only be looking forward, I think the future is bright for young Chloe.

She touched on Mobile UX , where she discussed how she wanted to make it engaging for kids. She said that maths has never really been seen as cool, and that it probably won’t be, but her app does make it more engaging and fun. She selected the colours carefully and inserted cool diagrams and clickable buttons.

She touched as well, on one barrier to entry to this market. Her app is on android (320 downloads) yet she was conscious that not everyone her age had a smart phone, so it is also online. You won’t find it on iOS though. Why? Because Chloe and her brother pooled their pocket money together yet still can’t cover Apples demands.

The event was a success. It was well organised, with excellent speakers. It succeeded in bringing us on a journey through the mobile landscape as it stands and gave us a good insight into where it is going.

It did so, by offering different perspectives, whether that be from an App Developer, Marketer, Investor, or from Industry Giants like Facebook.

It was a nice atmosphere too, and the networking potential (and free coffee and cakes) was great.

Daniel Dunne of Morgan McKinley

Daniel Dunne of Morgan McKinley

One of the speakers had highlighted that we run the risk of damaging the market, by overcome locating it, like other areas of IT, the Industry has mystified it by constantly bringing out new acronym ons, new buzz words etc.

Momo Dublin however, highlighted the extent to which the ecosystem is changing, but really succeeded in making simplicity out of a complex area.



I look forward to the next Mobile Monday.

I went to a talk. I liked it. Let me tell you about it.

The talk was held in DIT’s School of Hospitality Management and Tourism. The event was organised by HSMAI Ireland Chapter (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International.) This organisation run what they call “Dialogue Evenings” and as such “Mobile and Location Based Marketing” (LBM) was this month’s topic of discussion.

Speakers: Colm Grealy (CEO of Digital Reach Group and Co-Founder and Dr. Theo_Lynn (Director of the L INK Research Centre at Dublin City University and Director of Industry Engagement at DCU Business School.)

The introductions where made by Mr. Alex Gibson.

Mr. Gibson began by acknowledging HSMA Chapter Ireland as being the organiser and prompted the audience to join their LinkedIn Group, which I have since done. (Gibson is also a Director of the Board at HSMAI Ireland.)

He continued with a brief introduction to the hospitality sector, the recession driven challenges it is facing and the opportunities which mobile/location based marketing may pose. He then introduced the speakers and introduced Dr. Theo_Lynn to the floor who would then discuss further, such opportunities.

Dr._Lynn gave an insightful speech which gripped the audience from beginning to end. It was rich in cost efficient and easily implementable suggestions which the audience (predominantly hotel managers) could relate to.

Next Mr. Colm Grealy stood to give his presentation.

Mr. Grealy is the CEO of Digital Reach Group and had formerly co-founded DigiServe – a new media group that included, and EDO Software Services.)

The whole event ran rather smoothly, and culminated in a Q and A session. I feel I learned quite a lot, as will now be discussed.

Upon hearing of this talk, I was instantly intrigued. I have a keen interest in Digital Marketing and feel Mobile Marketing and indeed Mobile Web, represent the future. A graduate of Marketing, Innovation and Technology, I find it really intriguing and exciting to witness the exponential growth of social media and of course, mobile marketing.

I had been watching closely the advances made in Location Based Services and Marketing. Upon entering the talk I had experimented with Facebook Places and Foursquare.

Although the internet constitutes one of my great loves, I do value my privacy very much. My limited indulgence, on a personal level is representative of my attitude towards privacy. Whatever personal information Re: Dara Boland is on the web, is for the most part; self published. And for what is not, I am very much aware of. As things stand, divulging my whereabouts is a step too far for me personally.

As stated in Dr._Lynn’s blog, “By broadcasting your location, you are also broadcasting your absence.” This is another aspect which frightens me, the threat of burglary is, in my opinion, a real one. Gruteser and Grunwal (2003) distinguished two types of privacy threats associated with LBS; communication privacy threats and location privacy threats. Just last year a website called emerged which used information from the popular location based site Foursquare to show when users are away from their house. This raised significant concern amongst the general public. MG Siegler. (2010).

Perhaps with time, I will become desensitized and I too will join the cluetrain manifesto but for now, I will opt out. This said, should I witness a significant increase in business use which results in very real user rewards, I may be tempted to reactivate my accounts.

I should also note, that should I be encountered with a relevant business opportunity, I would absolutely use location based platforms for commercial purposes.  As the number of users of location based services increases so do the opportunities for vendors. By comparing this check in data to customer spending trends location based marketing has the potential to bring the cost per click business model previously only possible in the online environment to traditional vendors. This is a huge opportunity. What is also very attractive to vendors in the current economic landscape is that location based advertising is nearly always free. I thus believe that vendors and consumers in Ireland could benefit enormously from the mainstream adaptation of Location based services.

I entered the talk with an open mind and even with my existing base knowledge of the subject, I was eager to learn more. I had known Dr._Lynn and have always known him to be a knowledgeable and influential character, particularly in the area of Digital Marketing.

I had not known Mr. Grealy however. Upon hearing of his interesting background, (co-founder of DigiServe – a new media group that included, and EDO Software Services) I instantly went online to follow him on Twitter. As I was doing so, he made a remark which adequately put in context his impression on the significant importance of mobile marketing; “if the web is important to your business, mobile is important to your business.” I was a little dismayed then, to find that he doesn’t use his Twitter account. With only one follower, I felt this could discredit him as a mobile marketer. But I was wrong. Mr. Grealy gave an excellent speech full of quality statistics. He now has two followers on Twitter, one of which is me.

Although I do not have any immediate plans to work within the Hospitality sector, I do possess considerable work experience across various Hotels and Restaurants. Even if this sector does not feature in my ideal career path, considering it as a case study would allow me to take some key learning which may be applicable across different markets.

The reason I attended then was because I was a genuine Interest in mobile marketing and feel my future career, whatever that may be, will likely call upon digital marketing techniques. I spend approximately one hour a day reading various blogs which often cover innovations in mobile marketing, including such topics as near field communications and location based marketing.

Ultimately, I am very confident that mobile marketing represents the “next big thing.” This is backed up by Mr. Grealy’s observations. He began his pitch by setting the scene and giving Mobile Marketing some context:

  • In 2009, over 100 million was spent, In Ireland, promoting businesses on the web. At that time this was predominantly PC based advertising.
  • Next, he quoted a recent (July 2010) IDC study; “Within two years, 60% of digital advertising will be directed to mobile platforms- compared to 2% today.”

This shows me, that Mobile marketing constitutes marketing’s next frontier.

Specific to the Hospitality sector then, I can now say that Mobile marketing offers an excellent means of attracting business. Interestingly, I learned that 40% of International Travellers own a smart phone whilst 57% use a feature phone (with internet capabilities.) Of the Smartphone users then, 40% use them to get destination information. 34% of business travellers and 26% of leisure travellers use them to make booking changes during a particular trip. Also, 37% of international leisure travellers use mobile social networks.

Such figures give me an insight into the scale of the opportunity mobile marketing is faced with, especially when considering Mr. Grealy’s statement that there are currently 1.3 million Smartphone users in Ireland. This figure, he predicts will continue to rise, especially as more users are willing to move from pay as you go – contract billing and also more Smartphones will become available on pay as you go packages.

Within the app market, the Hospitality Industry is also well represented. As of 19th April 2011, there where 14,053 “Travel” iPhone apps in Apple’s Appstore alone, 2,677 just for the iPad. A search for “Hotel” in the android Appstore equivalent, showed 2,414 available apps.

TripAdvisor and Yelp where mentioned, but so too where quality apps such as, Kayak and Jetsetter. He then showed Hotel specific apps designed for Jurys, Goffs, Fitzpatricks and the Bloomfield House Hotel.

I also feel that QR codes can be introduced into the Hospitality mobile marketing mix. Mr. Grealy highlighted several more lessons to be learned, this time with regards; ways which Hotels can use QR codes. He believed them to be of significance as they offer 1.) A call to action e.g. click to call 2.) Direct Response e.g. redeeming special offers / coupons and 3.) Customer Engagement e.g. better track marketing campaign. QR codes/tags will likely increasingly become prevalent on offline media but an interesting yet relatively suggestion was made by Grealy. He suggested that a QR tag be placed on Hotel websites, so occupants can scan a map of the hotels location. The example he then used, I feel resonated with the audience, it was re: a hotel occupant whom had been drinking and was therefore finding it difficult to find his/her way back to the hotel.

A relatively new initiative introduced by Morgans Hotel Group sees  hotel guests given free access to a bank of curated music downloads chosen specifically to reflect the personality of the property they’re staying in. This is facilitated by scannable qr tags distributed to the guests.

Also, it was noted that, for many people, their phone is the most personal device they own. I personal would allow most people to use my laptop, my iPod and Kindle. However, my phone stays on my person, almost 24 – 7. Another point which resonated with me then was a discussion on the more traditional forms of mobile marketing, specifically that of SMS. It was noted that unless this is opt in, businesses should refrain as otherwise it risks encroaching customer’s privacy.

This particular event and it’s content was especially relevant for a student like me with an interest in e-commerce and marketing. As mentioned above, Smartphones have reached a critical mass (1.3 million users in Ireland) and thus represent a ready market for location based initiatives. This coupled with other innovations e.g. Layer based Augmented Reality, QR codes and the overall adoption of social media should facilitate excellent growth.

I can link my learning to previous reading. During summer 2010, I was living and working in New York City. There, I purchased a second hand book named; The Cluetrain Manifesto. This book was a collection of pieces from web commentators and bloggers, which actually inspired me to apply for the Masters in e-Commerce.

In the book, it was argued that social media marketing, as carried out by the mainstream, is still based on predominantly on the AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) model (which it describes as “a relic from mass communication”). This model, which I had learned in my undergraduate marketing studies, implies that consumer action is a result of awareness which stimulates interest and desire. However, the book, suggested that social media technologies in fact, should be used to provide actual services that have not been designed simply or exclusively to generate conversations. The implication then for brands, is where they create products or services that people actually want to talk about. I could now add to this. I learned it’s also important to incentivise people to talk. Badges and rewards are an excellent means of encouraging engagement and in creating unofficial brand ambassadors. I learned that, where hotels can facilitate consumers, they may themselves spread a marketing message on the hotels behalf, create a buzz, offer referrals, and what’s important, is that its often customer to customer, word of mouth.

A key component of the talk was the importance of trust. The concept of trust has allows been important when considering financial transactions, in this case hotel stays. However, this concept is also evolving. Not only has it evolved alongside the natural shift in emphasis from traditional – digital – mobile marketing, but it may also be interpreted differently across demographic types.

Dr._Lynn emphasized the importance of trust in marketing regardless of whether it’s traditional, digital or mobile. Interestingly, it was discusses how “we sell round the social graph” and that “nine times out of ten we buy off people we know.”

With the exponential rise of e.g. Social media, the Hospitality Industry, has become highly transparent. It is now easier for customers to review and make informed decisions on purchasing decisions, i.e. to stay at one Hotel or a competitor’s Hotel.

So, as can be viewed above, trust can be gained or lost through e.g. Social Media. However, whether the particular Hotel itself is active or not, the fact remains that they will likely be discussed online. The suggestion then, is that Hotels themselves get involved.

Gefen, Karahanna, and Straub (2003) identified lack of consumer trust in companies as a major factor inhibiting online purchases. Trust plays an essential role for facilitating online and indeed offline transactions between consumers and companies and realizing the development of web based activities to consumers in the long run (Sonja, 2002).

Past studies have demonstrated, with empirical evidence, the important role of consumer trust, particularly in Internet shopping (Gefen & Straub, 2004) and argued that the most significant long-term barrier to the success of the Internet as a commercial medium in mass markets is a lack of consumer trust in the Internet (Jarvenpaa, Tractinsky & Vitale, 2000; Hoffman). It is unclear as to a companies existence on foursquare will impact for derived trust yet it is evident that consumers are often likely to trust their peers. The amplification that Location based services allow for is thus quite significant in terms of trust building.

Dr._Lynn also introduced the concept of Generation’s X and Y and “boomers”, using images adapted from a viral Youtube campaign sponsored by Apple.

Drawing from my Marketing Undergraduate Studies, I was aware of the various societal cohorts. E.g:

  • GI Generation (born between 1901 and 1924; conservative and civic-concerned
  • Silent Generation (1925 to 1945); conforming, raised families at an early age, concerned with youthfulness
  • Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964); personal acquisitions important, high levels of disposable income.
  • Generation X (1961 to 1981); somewhat cynical, great economic power, feel somewhat lost and alienated
  • Generation Y  (1976 to 1981); subset of Gen X; interested in urban style, tech savvy
  • Millenials (1982 to 2002) multicultural; well educated, more used to violence and sex as a part of life

It was discussed that Boomers and, although to a lesser extent Generation X like to “be seen and be heard.” The Generation Y population then prefer to live as “be seen,be found”. The older generations often perceive formal as superior. The example given here was attire, for a Boomer, a suit and tie may represent a high level of trustworthiness. On the other hand, Generation Y often perceives formal is being stuffy or boring and may prefer to conduct business with like minded individuals. These people leverage trust whilst Boomers are concerned with building trust.

Although many countries, including Ireland have witnessed a surge in “Silver Surfers,” those internet users aged 60+ it is likely that particularly; location based marketing may be most highly dispersed amongst the younger generations. The implications, for the Hospitality Industry are significant. If Hotel chains can positively engage with influencers, they may act as salesmen or brand ambassadors. This may be realised e.g. through direct or indirect referrals through online/offline social networks. This is made possible through Mobile and location based marketing as such new age Influencers have two vital abilities at their fingertips; 1.) Amplification and 2.) Ability to Publish.

For example, Dr._Lynn himself is a particularly influential character. By him posting online that he attended the Gresham Hotel Bar after the talk, it is likely that 5,000 network contacts could view this.

This prompted me to research further, the user base of location based services. To my knowledge, the area has yet to be studied in detail in an Irish context. I did encounter one research paper which mentioned the Irish Market trends but the study was taken from a European lens. That research predicted that by year 2014 the Mobile Location Based Service market will amount to approximately US$ 24.61 million in Ireland alone. Furthermore, it gave Dublin a world ranking of 114th, in terms of Location based service usage. It stated that of its use, 73% of the services within Ireland (as of 2009), are seen in Dublin (Parker, P,M. 2009.) Meanwhile American users have embraced LBS to a higher degree.

I expect that in the coming years Ireland will see a significant increase in usage of such services.

As, most of mobile marketing and an even higher proportion of location based marketing is targeted towards Smart Phones, I sought to discover, who is using such devices. My research then suggests that, as of Q1 2010, the highest users can be found in the 18-35 year old bracket.  This particular group is said to boast the highest share of ownership of the android and IOS devices. This is significant as Android and IOS are said to be the two most prominent operating systems used to run Location based services. (Kellogg, D. 2010).

I also encountered the findings of a study (based in US) published via slideshare. Again, it highlighted that particular age segment as being a key characteristic for those adopters of location based services.

Dr._Lynn gave an excellent description of the competitive landscape encountered by the LBS providers. Google Latitude, Facebook Places and Foursquare where highlighted as being the main players. Other location based services are offered by companies such as; Gowalla, Loopt and Brightkite. According to Dr._Lynn, Latitude and Facebook places have not yet seen much success, Foursquare is becoming a major force. Foursquare, he said, is sweeping across the United States and is beginning to take hold within Ireland. He noted the commercial benefits and emphasised Foursquare’s robust analytics which can facilitate better customer relationship management.

As for the ongoing battle amongst the various Location based platforms, I believe Foursquare holds an initial upper hand. One report I found, a collaboration between Forrester Research and GSI Commerce was concerned with analyzing data which had been captured from online retailers between November 12 and December 20, 2010. The results showed that, in this case social media rarely leads, at least directly to online purchasing. It suggested that fewer then 2% of online purchases arose from social media click troughs. According to that research, with Facebook, (even in light of innovations e.g. by Vendershop) the idea of buying is probably 10th on a to do list of the average Facebook User. With Foursquare’s game theory model, it is slightly different, and with the rewards available (e.g. virtual – badges or real – discount coupons) combined with the practicality to being in a certain location, the user is more likely to respond to business outreaches.

A recent study (Zickuhr K, Smith A, 2010), based in the US, found that 4% of online Americans use location-based services. Other key findings of their research included:

  • 7% of adults who go online with their mobile phone use a location-based service.
  • 8% of online adults ages 18-29 use location-based services, significantly more than online adults in any other age group.
  • 10% of online Hispanics use these services – significantly more than online whites (3%) or online blacks (5%).
  • 6% of online men use a location-based service such as Foursquare or Gowalla, compared with 3% of online women.

Considering that Social Media activities may pose excellent opportunities, it is important to not only gain dedicated top management support, but also to better inform/educate those of its merits.

If it where the case that attendees, prior to the seminar, held a feeling of falling behind, unable to keep abreast of advances in the social media space, Dr._Lynn in particular brought them back up to speed and offered a clear roadmap for which to follow when considering mobile and location based campaigns.

Many suggestions where put forward which could become ingredients of a mobile marketing “strategy.” However, I feel it unnecessary in many cases to adhere to a thorough strategy. Hotels can instead seek out what works for them and invest accordingly. Especially in light of the economic uncertainty in this sector (many Hotels have recently been subject to administration) Management may be preoccupied with reactive day to day management of their Hotel’s operations. Even if one were to assume that the merits of e.g. Social Media marketing where non contentious (which may not be the case) management activity and resources may still, instead, be directed towards more immediate problems.

Hotels are operating in high-risk, dynamic environments, which can be accentuated via online sites such as Where Hotels can use the seminar to succeeded then, is in using the background information and then following the various relatively simple measures outlined. Adopt what works and deploy in a measured and focused way.

Dr._Lynn concluded his part of the seminar by showing the future of mobile apps. The Yelp and Trip Advisor Augmented Reality apps where greeted with awe. Already, such sites which facilitate user reviews are influencing users propensity to purchase but with such innovations, I feel an even higher level of transparency may be in store.

A blog entry ( entitled; “Is Bad Engagement Better than None”  complemented the insights spoken in the seminar, specifically, as it was suggested that the emerging social media platforms, give the new generations a facility to amplify their thoughts and opinions. Web 2.0 allows for outspoken amplification of observations, evaluations and opinions. This blog cites the work of Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, both Forrester Researchers, and their book named; Groundswell.

The cited; “ladder of engagement” aims to segment, as shown above, social media users, based on a degree in which they may create or consume content. However, what the blog and indeed the ladder model fail to address is whether it is, in fact, better to not engage at all, than to do it badly. I feel this important, especially, as often Hoteliers are wary, afraid or unwilling (due to resource/time constraints) to dedicate strategic planning to the web. This point is further developed upon below. It was highlighted that it is usually better to engage, especially as whether the Hotel is active or not, they will still feature. It is not wise to ignore. Dr._Lynn also put forward some really practical and cost effective measures, which sympathised with the increased financial pressures with which the Industry is experiencing.

I did not find many contentious points in the presentations. However during the Q and A session, the question of how much it would cost to design a Hotel Specific App was put to the panel. The answer returned was it depends but for a decently designed app it will likely cost aprox 5,000 – 10,000 euro. Any cheaper then that, it was implied, would result in a poor quality design. It was noted however, that this price will likely drop I the coming years and may reach the point where average users themselves may design their own apps for a nominal fee or potential without any cost.

Dr._Lynn stated here that, in light of the economic strain that many Hotels are facing, there is often no imminent requirement for an investment into an App, as long as they are well represented on Third party Apps such as Trip Advisor.

Mr. Gleary stated said he disagreed. I am of the view that yes, a Hotel specific Smartphone/Tablet app may offer some value but for the amount of rooms which would need to be sold to recuperate the cost, it is not an obviously attractive option.

Mr. Gleary discussed designing web-based apps and this prompted debate. On the one hand, Dr._Lynn was of the expressed opinion that limited resources may be better spent on cheaper initiatives. The point was well made as Mr. Gleary, the proud owner of many apps, admitted to having only two such web-based hospitality apps. Cheaper, yet effective measures can be realized via e.g. mobile search engine optimization, campaigns such as foursquare or even just to add the hotel as a business on Google Maps.

My take on this is as follows. Investment should not be made for the sake of investing. Initiatives in mobile marketing should be made after conducting feasibility research / business impact research. Initiatives should be traceable and measurable and thus should be clear to what extent they offer value.

Clever initiatives have been realized. E.G. Hyatt Hotels developed an online concierge service called Yatt’it. This effectively aggregates and lets user’s rate travel tips which are posted by Hyatt’s customers and concierges.

The result then is seen in a reduced burden to the concierges and also the offering of tailored, extensive city information to holiday residents whether before or during their stay. This App has effectively cut down on waiting in line to see the reception/concierge.

For the most part however, I believe that Irish Hotels can spend resources more wisely elsewhere as part of their overall digital strategy.

Location based platforms, as discussed are part social media, part mobile, part GPS, some are even part game. They pinpoint the user’s location using the GPS on a smart phone and enable the user to share their location with their friends across social networks. Recently, businesses have started to catch on to the marketing opportunities such services can potentially offer them. When users are geo tagged in or close to a location, a vendor can use Location based marketing to attract, engage and reward customers by offering compelling promotions e.g. making special offers to them. However, an example discussed showed how problems may occur. The specific example discussed a BB’s coffee shop initiative via 02 treats. This generated massive footfall but the electronic point of sale staff where unaware of how to deal with the coupons and thus the result was a point of sale disaster.  Furthermore, the problem of duplicate coupons was also in evidence. As such any similar campaigns to be run by Hotels may best be targeted at voucher/coupon redemption during periods of negative fluctuations in demand e.g. mid week Hotel Rooms or “Specials” e.g. free coffee in Hotel restaurant after the lunchtime rush. Hotels can create custom badges to reward activity e.g. tweets/shouts and should consider rewarding the mayor with e.g. a complementary drink with his/her meal.

This also highlighted group/collective buying platforms as a vehicle for digital marketing. Meteor have recently launched an alternative to 02 treats, as have many other industries including e.g. Insurance company; AXA. Websites such as Groupon (CityDeal), Living Social, Steal the Deal, Wowcher, Buy with Me and Pigsback could be explored, and could especially useful during times in lagging demand (seasonality fluctuations). What is more is that many of these sites are utilising social media platforms, which allows for extensive amplification.

The below link shows an excellent case study on how hotels can use Groupon for marketing efforts.

Attendance at this seminar prompted me, to revisit location based marketing through my own marketing programmes which I am or have been involved with. For example, an ongoing project of mine relates to science communication. I have a specific interest in DublinScience2012. As I ran the social media here, I sat down with the team and management as far back as last summer to discuss Foursquare. We had felt at that time that not enough people where using it, and it would offer only minimal value to the campaign. One year on, and I will seek the introduction of location based marketing into the mix, as I know realise their merits, particularly in amplifying a message to an audience. Public engagement has been my ultimate goal, and thus I now feel location based services offer me a fresh inroad in achieving this.

Furthermore, I will take Dr._Lynn’s advice and ensure that the associated website is optimised via mobile SEO. Similarly, Mr. Grealy’s discussion on QR tags will be embraced. As the PR officer and Webmaster to DCU Amateur Boxing Club, I will ensure QR tags are used effectively in future. For example, I will ensure all promotional material displayed during next year’s Clubs and Societies day will display QR codes.

In a personal capacity, I have embraced QR codes. For example, I have inserted them into my CV where it will bring the user to any number of my personal or professional websites. I have also displayed them across my personal and anonymous blogs.

Earlier I mentioned sites which facilitate user reviews. I also mentioned earlier that I have considerable experience in Service Industry. As an experiment, I searched for some of my previous work places on sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet.

I worked at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links for many years and decided to search for it online. I did find it on Trip Advisor and it required little searching within the site. A search using the term “Portmarnock” saw the Hotel return on the first page, ahead of competing Hotels. Upon finding the profile, I found that the user reviews lived up to its four star rating, and where predominantly positive.

This prompted me to consider another previous work place, but this time I didn’t expect to be greeted with such quality reviews. P.D. O’Hurley’s bar in New York was a lot of fun to work at but really I would not recommend a friend to eat there.

The service was below par, the food was sub standard and the pricing did not allow for value. Low and behold, the Yelp reviews were negative.

Management here had told me that revenue has fallen year on year for 3 consecutive years. I pondered then, with the rise of user generated location based content, would this spell further negative returns for that establishment. As Dr._Lynn said, “Reputation Management is a big issue” and this establishment is being hurt, yet still, they themselves remain inactive in the online space.

I have since followed relevant pages on Twitter and joined LinkedIn Groups. One such LinkedIn group; that of AllThingsSocialMedia offered me a fresh insight into the direction of location based services.

A post there suggested that companies need more than just a good geo-app with a strong user-base. They need access to other data sources to understand questions like who/where/why/what. It said that it appears that Foursquare and other platforms are not yet focused on the predictive analytics side.

I believe this is the next logical step and will constitute a massive market potential for predictive analytics, most notable in geo-location marketing.

Geolocation Marketing being used to drive predictive analytics…knowing more about where people are going to be, and modifying marketing/sales efforts to support it. I suspect operational efforts can be modified as well on the fly according to geolocation data on apps like foursquare. Imagine if an airport restaurant could determine the number of passengers that might be stranded at the gate across from their restaurant on a given day at a given hour…in real time. Perhaps there is some sort of rapid ad that can be pushed to those pop their smartphone on instant they land.

I think location based services will continue to gain traction, just as smart phone deployment is also on the rise. I thus envision extensive growth in this field. The case study on that day was of the Hotel Industry yet, these concepts may be applied across a range of disparate Industries. Retail and entertainment, I feel are the most notable alternatives. I also envision adoption amongst Industries which support passenger loads, e.g air, train and motorways.

I mentioned retail above. One study I encountered ( found that 9 out of 10 mobile Internet users have logged on while in a store. Importantly, most of them (50%) did so in order to research their buys and, for just over half of them (51%), in-store mobile research had directly led to a purchase.

My optimism for the growth of location based services is shared by Constellation Research Inc ( whom predict such services will grow, generating up to $10.7B in revenue by 2013.

Watch this space, no, wait, get yourself involved 😉