Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The LBS bandwagon
The mobile application bandwagon is more like an ark, and rightly so as we anticipate the deluge of smarthphone adoption and usage. ShowNearby believes it is steering the boat, with its brand of location-based services.

The communications and technological zeitgeist is presently marked by the almost indispensable piece of metal we call the mobile phone. It has become a must-have in every city brimming with information-seekers and businesses. Furthermore, there are a burgeoning number of location-aware smarthphones in the market, baiting strategies for monetisation, hence the location-based industry’s muilti-billion dollar valuation.

The location-based service industry is helped by the advent of mobile technology, dynamic and intelligent approaches to aggregating and presenting content, the ever-improving positioning component of technology, plus the perennial demand for information from users whose expectations are continually stoked by handset improvements, high-speed mobile internet, and emergent information and communications technologies.

Riding the trend of high smarthphone penetration in sunny Singapore, ShowNearby already integrates major daily information-seeking needs into one app.

ShowNearby is a location-based service provider in Singapore. It develops the eponymous location-based service application, freely downloadable on iTunes, Android Market and BlackBerry App World.

The app reaches out to 125,000 Singaporeans daily, and has been downloaded over 500,000 times. It has been a platform to over 39 million searches in the last 3 months.

The app features dozens of popular searches such as ATMs, restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets and shopping centres.

The utility app aggregates content provided by public organisations, business partners and end-users to stay relevant. ShowNearby adopts a business model characterised by intimate learning relationships with its partners, taking mobile location-based service to another level.

Noticing the Push
Mobile location-based services began with the location-based short messaging services (SMS). This “push notification” approach is a manifestation of the marketing school of thought where information – and advertisements – has to be delivered to end-users. For location-based SMS, end-users receive text messages whenever they spend a substantial amount of time within proximity of an advertisement.

Marketers then have to contend with the implications posed by the intrusiveness and relevance of the approach. In fine-tuning push notification, marketers look to collecting user information with a view to filter the notifications.  Filtering also minimises drop-out rates, a common fate when end-users are interrupted.

Another strain of mobile location-based services orientates towards the loose concept of “pull notification”, wherein end-users voluntarily access specific applications and receive advertisements and promotions within proximity. This provides another level of consent from the end-user to receive content from advertisers. The fact that the end-user is already engaging in information-seeking activity further minimises redundancy in advertising.

In mobile marketing, a message is effective when it is delivered at the right time, right location and to the right persons. Given the intimacy and how deeply integrated the mobile phone is in daily life, people become less tolerant of arbitrary messages and interrupting advertisements.

Being Smart with Smartphones
ShowNearby captures end-users in moments when they are actually in demand for information. The content from advertisers comes in the form of recommendations which are time and location-sensitive, suited to the recipient’s pattern of usage.

ShowNearby currently has over 200 business partners in Singapore and there are more lining up to leverage its location-based services. Businesses have long been keen to have a mobile presence and engage consumers via mobile platforms as they have did on the television platform for the latter half of the Twentieth Century. Studies of the effectiveness of mobile marketing vis-à-vis traditional media confirm the excitement and great sense of urgency which greet the mobile platform.

ShowNearby offers, among its suite of services, location-based advertisements, which appear in the application when the user is either within proximity of a selected location or browsing specific categories selected by the advertiser. For instance, a hair salon may run an advertisement campaign within 3 kilometres of its location, and also choose to advertise in the “Hair Salon” group of search keywords. This captures both impulse consumers as well as active information-seekers of hairdressing services.

Businesses run their advertisements with ShowNearby from as little SGD$1 per day (USD $0.80) and enjoy click-through of almost 10 times the industry average on the web. Advertising on mobile also displaces the need for paper pamphlets and mailers, proving to be a more environmentally friendly option.

With major cities experiencing higher smartphone penetration and higher population density, ShowNearby now eyes markets beyond Southeast Asia as it develops its technology into a viable and relevant marketing platform for everyone.

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