Marketers Use LBS to Promote Health Awareness — And Remedies

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With location-based services and the Internet, health information, particularly information about disease outbreaks, is now available at your fingertips. And a number of different services are using this location-specific data to inform users — and to target drugmakers’ ads.

Finding Outbreaks First
The website Flu Near You allows users to access information about flu activity in their area at a regional or state level. The RSS feed features regular updates on nearby flu outbreaks and related flu news. Users also have the option to receive customized emails that provide disease alerts based on location. As well, the site’s Flu Vaccine Finder points users to nearby locations offering flu shots or nasal spray flu vaccine.

Flu Near You is partnered with HealthMap, a similar web interface that allows users to track diseases worldwide. HealthMap doesn’t limit its disease tracking to flu epidemics, users can report about and track any type of outbreak within their area. The site provides real-time surveillance of emerging public health threats by utilizing a variety of data sources, ranging from online news aggregators to user reports to official warnings. HealthMap’s website utilizes an automated process which allows information to be monitored, filtered, organized, and disseminated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The information is available online in nine languages and helps facilitate the early detection of global public threats. Unlike Flu Near You, however, HealthMap has expanded past a basic online interface to offer a smartphone application on both iPhones and Android phones. The app provides users with an interactive map that allows them to track outbreaks as well as report their own.

Integrating Local Data and Ads
Given the availability of this data, several other location-based apps are now correlating this flu indexing with mobile advertising served based on the frequency and severity of the outbreak. A great example of this is eBay’s WHERE, which recently ran a campaign for Halls cough drops. By looking at the national flu index, and public data provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), WHERE was able to deliver ads for Halls cough drops wherever the flu index spiked within geo-fenced regions, so that the ads were only seen by users who were close to a participating retailer that carried the product.

Asif R. Khan is a veteran tech start-up, business development and marketing entrepreneur currently serving the community as founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association (The LBMA). Weekly podcaster at This Week In Location Based Marketing every Monday. Can be found at @AsifRKhan @TheLBMA on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Flickr user typexnick.