Two pieces of mobile news – one in marketing and one in mapping – have triggered an interesting conceptual framework for the future of mobile marketing for hospitality.
Apple’s virtual reality mapping technology
Two recently published patents by Apple – “federated mobile device positioning” and “registration between actual mobile device position and environment model” – reveal a new direction for mobile mapping technology.
These patents are basically creating a virtual reality layer for maps using the user’s location and actual orientation of the phone. A user would be able to point a phone at a specific building, and Apple would use crowd-sourced imagery, satellites, and other available media assets to peel back the layers of the building to offer an inside view.
The combined usage of WiFi, GPS and localized sensor information will offer the most comprehensive viewpoint from available data, which allows the unique “peel back the layers” approach.
This functionality could be layered within the iOS 7 flyover feature, making it possible for a crowd-sourced exploration of buildings worldwide.
The ability to “see inside” a building is a frothy part of the travel ecosystem, as the recent $10 million funding announcement for inside mapper InsideAtlas demonstrates. This particular startup will be leaning on “magnetic anomalies” to create internal maps, as this segment begins to deliver individual solutions to the indoor map challenge. As the full external world has been mapped, the next frontier is clearly everything hidden from satellites.
xAd takes in $30 million to deliver local mobile marketing
The mobile ad platform xAd announced a $30 million round this week, and although the company claims to be building the business purely on profits, the investor interest is clearly there for mobile ad platforms.
xAd offers a much more contextual local targeting opportunity, using geo-marketing to get closer than even a ZIP code (like Facebook). The mobile ad platform ties in a user’s actual location when opening an app. An ad request is sent targeted to that device and location, and then xAd deploys any further information they have about the user.
In a interview with VentureBeat, the platform’s SVP of Marketing Monica Ho explains how this is of value to brands:
We can look in our system, and say have we seen this ad id before? What other ads have we shown them that they’ve responded to and where else have you been?
This means that a restaurant brand can target a nearby customer that might be considering patronizing a competing brand at a nearby location. These sorts of “conquest campaigns” are a perfect opportunity for this hyper-local geo-marketing that xAd excels in.
The precise targeting facilitated by these mobile ad platforms are complemented by xAd with “Footprints,” a real-time product that allows advertisers to visualize who is opening an app, where they are and how many people are at a specific location in a given timeframe.
The conceptual framework that may trigger a mobile marketing evolution is the way that an internal and/or virtual reality map can be combined with advertising. Imagine a larger building with multiple competing vendors. As a traveler opens a VR/indoor mapping app, the map can show a navigable interface of the full building.
Once this interface is displayed, and the user is exploring the space, different vendors can offer competing deals to that specific consumer. Since the targeting via mobile is more precise, these vendors can target the consumers most likely to convert on a particular offer.
This style of emerging marketing would also be applicable for hotels pushing guests down the funnel – imagine being able to take a consumer into the hotel, and allow them to select a specific room. These can be competitive offers between hotels in the same district, and provide a fully immersive means of searching for hotels – including the ability for hotels to solicit business in an entirely novel way.
Finally, for hotels, the information of what type of consumer is where is also extremely valuable, as each revenue manager attempts to bring the right demographic into the hotel with the best deal for that specific guest.
While this sort of technology integration is nascent and not in the very near future, mobile marketing technology clearly has a ways to go before even beginning to realize its vast potential.