Letter From the Editor: Mapping the Future of Local Commerce

Of all of the technologies and consumer touchpoints to local commerce, mapping is perhaps the most relevant. This centuries-old technology has gone into hyperdrive over the past 15 years since the launch of Google Maps, and it continues to be a primary tool for local search and discovery.

But what’s the state of the art and how is it evolving? This will be Street Fight’s focus in the month of September. This follows last month’s connected car theme and past months’ reporting and commnetary on privacy, retail transformation and the “beyond the screen” evolution of voice and visual search.

Making the Case for Driver-Centric Location Solutions in Cars of the Future

Traditionally, a lot of discussion around location tech as it relates to auto is for marketing and media applications for the dealerships and automakers themselves, where the goal is to sell more cars. That helps the OEM and the dealers, but it leaves an enormous opportunity on the table. We also need to be customer-centric, which means providing an experience that decommoditizes ownership and makes the journey itself a little more interesting. That’s how to keep the miles-traveled metric high, even when fewer cars are being sold.

Applying user data in this fashion requires adherence to a code of data privacy and ethics — starting with a clear and obvious value exchange to the end user (the driver). An owner of a vehicle should clearly understand the benefit in having location data collected. Location data can improve the driver’s experience in three ways.

How VR and AR Are Changing the Car-Buying Experience

New cars are incredibly expensive, and most people don’t feel comfortable picking a vehicle based exclusively on two-dimensional images and whatever data they can pull up on the Kelley Blue Book website. Consumers don’t want to go into dealerships, either, so they end up delaying their purchases for as long as possible.

RelayCars thinks it has a solution.

The company has put together a program that uses augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to help consumers research new cars and trucks. Getting a realistic view of a vehicle from their own homes helps users narrow down their selections and decreases the time shoppers need to spend test driving multiple cars.

Heard on the Street, Episode 33: Building Network Effect for Location Intelligence

Responsible location intelligence involves practices like “stop data,” to measure users’ location dwell times, and the scale Foursquare achieves in its network of app publishers. Placed is one of the first location data players and a leader in attribution since 2011.

Now that the two companies have come together via acquisition, how does that position Foursquare for interstellar domination of the location intelligence market? It’s about greater capability and scale, say Foursquare’s Josh Cohen and David Shim, our guests on the latest episode of Heard on the Street.

Digital Advertisers Look to Connected Cars to Push Industry Forward

As the industry continues to evolve, Geopath’s Kym Frank predicts that two-way communication between cars and advertisers will become even more commonplace and OOH strategies that involve connected vehicle data will be the norm among major brand advertisers.

“The car itself can communicate with digital displays to trigger optimal creative, and the billboard can communicate with the dash to trigger in-app ads,” Frank says. “We are at the very beginning of seeing what is possible and measuring those impacts.”

Airship Acquires Apptimize to Sharpen Mobile Marketing Experiences

Airship rebranded to emphasize its shift from push notifications to a broader suite of messaging tools. Apptimize will help its clients iterate across channels and solutions as they attempt to find the best way to reach customers flooded with marketing and other kinds of media.

Connected Vehicle Data Will Revolutionize Audio Industry

Automotive OEMs have bulk data plans with cellular carriers primarily for collecting vehicle diagnostic data (e.g. mileage, engine warnings, etc.). As a result, it is now possible to capture data from millions of vehicles. This presents an opportunity to capture  exponentially larger audio data sample sizes, especially for AM/FM radio, which will fundamentally change audience measurement, ad attribution, and program insights. While data today is primarily audio listening, the introduction of autonomous vehicles will result in significant consumption of video that can be measured in a similar way to audio.  

Report: Location Targeting Ecosystem Suffers from Inaccuracy

Location Sciences analyzed 500 million digital location-targeted impressions in the US and UK in the first half of 2019. It concluded that for every $100,000 spent on location targeting, $29,000 fuels targeting outside the desired geographic range, and $36,000 in targeting does not produce strong enough signals to ensure accuracy. 

The Hidden Opportunity Cost of Google Plus: Review Volume

Blumenthal: I was able to look at reviews per month since 2015 for a large number of restaurant locations across the sites that are now common in the restaurant industry. Interestingly, Yelp’s and TripAdvisor’s review volume is roughly the same now as it was in January 2015, while you can see that Google’s review volume is now roughly 10x that of either of those two sites. And Google was receiving fewer reviews per location per month than either Yelp or TA in early 2015.

There is an interesting but not totally obvious point on the slide where Google’s review volume starts to take off and that is April 2016. For those of you who don’t track Google minutiae quite the way that I do, that was the month when Google finally separated reviews from Google Plus and no longer required a Plus profile to leave a review. 

6 Automotive Data Services Platforms

In order for consumer-facing companies and outside technology firms to take complete advantage of the data that’s being generated by automakers, the data coming from today’s connected vehicles needs to be aggregated and normalized.

Automotive data services platforms are stepping in with technology designed to take connected vehicles to the next level. By ingesting and cleansing data from connected cars, these platforms are helping minimize the development work that’s needed to launch a wide variety of third-party apps and services.

Here are six companies that are innovating in the space.

Back-to-School Retailing Is Now All About Using Mobile Data to Help Your Customers

Back to School (BTS) is a $53 billion shopping season that’s entering its final stage as parents and college students take care of school supplies and clothing needs before Labor Day. And as we close out this decade and look to the 2020s, the combination of mobile technology, hyperlocal commerce, and consumer expectations make this a fascinating juncture in BTS history.

Fortunately, these complex market scenarios represent more of a golden opportunity than a paradox due to the promise of mobile. Here are two reasons why national and local brands should leverage data to bridge the online-offline gap and improve their BTS sales.

Waymo Releases Data Set to Catalyze Autonomous Driving Research

Why should local search specialists care about autonomous vehicles? The same way mobile, with its natural on-the-go use cases, has become the hub of “near me” searches that lead consumers into local businesses, cars will become the next mobile device, catalyzing the next wave of “near me” queries. Self-driving cars are not tangential to the future of local; they are central to it.

4 Major Takeaways About Consumer Privacy Concerns

Location data firm Factual commissioned a study conducted by the University of Southern California applied psychology master’s program to take the pulse of consumers on data privacy. Unsurprisingly, not all consumers demographic groups share the same levels and types of concern. Here are four major takeaways from the survey of 1,002 smartphone users aged 18 to 65.

Immersive Tech’s Next Conquest: Your Car

The real opportunity in VR and connected cars, going back to our primary focus on local commerce, could be to utilize that captive in-car media time with local discovery tools. Ad-supported experiences could be geo-targeted based on where you are or where you’re going. Destination-based discovery tools could be baked in.

By Unlocking Vehicle Data, Car Rental Companies Help Build Smarter Cities

As operator of three of the most recognized brands in the industry — Avis, Budget and Zipcar — Avis Budget Group represents a mobility ecosystem of more than 11,000 locations in approximately 180 countries. The company recently partnered with the connected-car data firm Otonomo to manage its connected cars on Otonomo’s automotive data services platform. Otonomo will help ABG derive insights from its large connected vehicle fleet, including anonymizing, standardizing, and delivering data from Toyota, Ford, Peugeot and GM vehicles.

The deal between ABG and Otonomo is expected to generate more than 4 billion road miles of data this year, and 7 billion road miles of data by 2020, with much of that data being used for predictive maintenance, smart city planning, and streamlining of the rental process.

Facebook Emerges as Key Tool for Reputation Management

For franchise businesses, specifically, Facebook is critical. The platform has rolled out a significant number of enhancements to help companies manage all facets of their digital reputation. And in the last year, nothing has been quite so impactful to franchise businesses as the rollout of Locations – the company’s local pages feature, which enables a multi-location business to link, and manage, individual franchise pages to the corporate brand page.

In order to leverage the network as a true reputation management tool, franchise brands must get accustomed to the three features outlined in this piece, which can be used to enhance the online reputation of every location and control public perception of your overall brand.

How Technology Companies Can Establish and Benefit from a User-First Culture

As more and more states pass separate privacy regulations into law, we will likely see an increase of noncompliance and fines across the board. Subsequently, we might see more companies begin advocating for the US to develop its own version of GDPR at the federal level in an effort to simplify compliance for companies nationwide.

To stay ahead of the imminent data privacy regulations, companies need to establish a culture of transparency and compliance. Consumers will be more confident in businesses that offer a clear value exchange when asked to share their data, and marketers and publishers will build stronger relationships with users. 

5 Business Models for On-Demand Delivery

In the on-demand food delivery vertical alone, revenue is expected to reach $94 billion this year. Other verticals, like beauty, parking, health, shipping, and marijuana, are seeing significant gains, as well. Although the space is maturing, investors are still seeing great growth opportunities. Any number of on-demand delivery startups has the potential to take over the space if it continues to grow as its current pace.

To understand where that growth might occur, we need to take a step back and examine which business models are proving most successful in the on-demand delivery space and how startups are implementing those business models for financial gain.

How Retailers Are Reaching Back-to-School Shoppers

It’s that time of the year. As summertime comes to an end, parents around the country have started filling up shopping carts with pencils, notebooks, and binders. Families in the U.S. are expected to spend an average of $696 on back-to-school supplies this year, the highest amount ever recorded by the National Retail Federation.

Back-to-school shopping has become an important event for retailers like Target, Walmart, and Office Depot. While ecommerce is king at other times of the year, parents shopping for their kids’ back-to-school supplies are just as likely to shop in-store as they are online.

How FlashParking Is Turning Isolated Lots Into Connected Hubs

The parking technology company FlashParking wants to reimagine the way parking lots are managed. But rather than pushing “smart” technology on individual operators, the company is taking a decidedly different approach to decreasing traffic congestion in cities.

Operating under the belief that most technology solutions to urban challenges are unnecessarily complicated, the team at FlashParking is working toward solutions that redirect energy away from smart-city technology. Instead, FlashParking is pushing a system that embraces so-called “dumb cities” — cities planned and built with durable approaches to infrastructure.