The world is certainly getting smaller through the marriage of the mobile device and social networking. With the explosion of social Smartphone apps and dedicated mobile sites (enabled through the use of wireless application protocol (WAP)), popular social networks have seen dramatic growth in mobile access. The first half of 2009 brought 3500% growth of Twitter pageviews via mobile browsers and over 1068% growth of bit.ly (Novarra). While Twitter is naturally more consumable via mobile due to its 140 character limit, even Facebook has more than 65 million active mobile users (Facebook).
How does this marriage relate to local advertising? Perhaps one of the most vital components of Smartphones are Location Based Services, where a user can choose to share their exact location (around 3 meters) through LBS-enabled applications. LBS social apps such as, Brightkite and Foursquare have seen steady growth over the past 6 months. Both services try to incentivize their users to create content and broadcast their exact location by a “checking in” mechanism. Plancast is another interesting utility that was just recently released to public beta in which there is no “check in” required by the user. The concept is real-time social calendaring, enhanced by LBS. In our opinion it will cater to the more novice social/mobile user vs. the Brightkite’s and Foursquare’s of the world. Plancast will clue people in on where you are going to be, instead of where you are currently.
From a social marketing perspective, this could potentially be groundbreaking for local-real-time-social advertising. Imagine a world where a local club could advertise to their fans when they know they’re within a 1-mile radius. The possibilities are endless; targeted ads will bring the massive local advertising market straight into the coffers of the major social hubs in the near future. The major hurdle LBS broadcasting needs to address is privacy. While tapping into Facebook’s 350 million users can make LBS broadcasting a huge success, there are also hundreds of politicians, lawyers, and law enforcement officers building a coalition against it. They are skeptical about how to protect and monitor the inherent problems of knowing the exact location of any one opting into these LBS services.