Wireless Pulse, April 2012: Stonewalling, Mapping, Google, and Fines
xAd | 04/19/2012
After a long investigation, the FCC hit Google with a resoundingly soft penalty for stonewalling the FCC inquiry into its controversial street-mapping program. Google was picking up a payload of sensitive information from home wireless networks from 2007 through 2010. This included emails, passwords, and Internet usage history. The FCC declared that the data collection was technically legal because the information gathered was unencrypted. However, the FCC stated that, “for many months Google deliberately impeded and delayed the bureau’s investigation” and fined Google a paltry $25,000 for their behavior. After initially denying any wrongdoing, Google admitted in a blog entry in 2010 that it had made a mistake by collecting the data.
Google and foursquare shared a panel at the GPS-Wireless conference, an interesting pairing given foursquare’s recent announcement that it is betting on the future of open source map data. New API pricing of Google Maps has a number of solution providers shopping for mapping alternatives. Google says that only the top .35 percent of Google map users is affected by the pricing (under 25,000 map views a day are still free). foursquare was among them, and re-launched its web maps using MapBox based on OpenStreetMap data. “These maps are adequate,” said Holger Luedorf of foursquare. “This helps the open street community and it felt like it was right thing to do. Google is very good and we will continue to use their products elsewhere.”
Interesting tidbits. Heard at the “O’Reilly Where” and “GPS-Wireless” conferences this month:
“People will pay for apps for family and safety. There is real monetization in this realm. When was the last time that people put an alarm on their house and paid for it with ads?”
“I see nothing to augmented reality. I don’t think it will go anywhere. It feels like I’m looking through a toy camera viewer.”
“Any location technology that has tried to compete against GPS has failed. They are useful but can’t compete head on against GPS. They now have a second life as a technology that supplements core location, which is GPS.”
“Consumers are willing to share location if you can give them something in exchange of value. Not every company does that.”
What’s happening to the vehicle aftermarket? It used to be that the vehicle aftermarket would lead innovation and benefited from a significant time-to-market advantage. The traditional aftermarket is currently struggling to find its special niche. The world has changed and the aftermarket is having a tough time rivaling connected vehicles. In the past, the aftermarket also offered consumers more value, but OEMS have gotten lighter on their feet. The aftermarket is now the consumer market, such as smartphones.
Who will capture the indoor location frontier? Companies are lining up to get a shot at the indoor location market. Companies like Meridian, Google, aisle411, Point Inside, and Micello, and many others, have found their own niches. Meridian has staked out a niche for indoor navigation and mapping that is managed by the customer. “We aim to be the WordPress of indoor location,” says Jeff Hardison of Meridian. Meridian uses Wi-Fi when available and provides interactive mapping and navigation for various types of indoor venues including the American Museum of Natural History. For retail, the system can be tied into inventory systems to pinpoint items on shelves. One store has added advertisements for books on the indoor navigation system and reports 33 percent of users are clicking on the ads.
Search rules location-based mobile ads. Locally targeted ads that accompany mobile search results are much more potent than locally targeted display ads. xAd, a mobile local ad network, reports significantly greater click-through rates for targeted local search (7 percent) compared to targeted local display ads ( 0.6 percent). Clicks alone don’t fully satisfy advertisers who want to see measured outcome. xAd self-reports secondary action rates of targeted local search ads of 37 percent and targeted local display ads of only five percent. Secondary actions include calls and requests for driving directions.
It’s a race. Local and nationally targeted mobile advertising is currently neck and neck. This year, mobile local ad revenues have caught up with nationally targeted mobile ads, for a combined $2.7 billion in revenue, says BIA/Kelsey Group. This is an increase from last year, in which local ads were estimated to be 45 percent of total mobile ad revenues. According to projections by BIA/Kelsey Group, local mobile ads will exceed national ads in 2016 and total $5 billion of the estimated $7.7 billion in mobile ad revenues.
Not everyone is convinced. “The financials for mobile advertising aren’t there for us. We won’t do it until our customers are asking for it,” says Bryan Trussel of Glympse at the GPS-Wireless show. “We tried it and got advertisements for toe fungus and Playtex on our screen. It wasn’t worth it. We don’t want generic banner ads. We’ll wait.”