Google Opens Places API With Initial Focus On Check-In Apps

At Google I/O in May, the search giant indicated that they were about to take their commitment to location to the next level. Sure, Latitude had been around for a while, but everyone knew that Google could do more in the space. The announcement of some new location APIs seemed to a big part of the solution. And now comes the fun part.

Today on their Geo blog, Google is announcing that they’re beginning to open the Places API for business. The first developers getting access? Those working on check-in services.

Here’s what Google has to say:

We are going to focus initially on check-in applications. These are the applications that we feel the API currently caters to well, and we are excited to work with developers building these applications to understand their requirements, and ensure that we are offering them the best possible experience.

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At Google I/O in May, the search giant indicated that they were about to take their commitment to location to the next level. Sure, Latitude had been around for a while, but everyone knew that Google could do more in the space. The announcement of some new location APIs seemed to a big part of the solution. And now comes the fun part.

Today on their Geo blog, Google is announcing that they’re beginning to open the Places API for business. The first developers getting access? Those working on check-in services.

Here’s what Google has to say:

We are going to focus initially on check-in applications. These are the applications that we feel the API currently caters to well, and we are excited to work with developers building these applications to understand their requirements, and ensure that we are offering them the best possible experience. Leer más “Google Opens Places API With Initial Focus On Check-In Apps”

Loyalty Programs Go Social

Loyalty programs need to do more than just give customers rewards for making purchases. To be successful, they must to create emotional bonds with customers that foster continuing relationships. LoyaltyMatch OnDemand Social Loyalty is designed to improve upon the traditional tiered-based loyalty program model by taking advantage of the social incentives, interactions, gaming and word of mouth of social media.

After the jump — what you need to know about LoyaltyMatch OnDemand.


Posted by Neil Glassman

ondemand-logoLoyalty programs need to do more than just give customers rewards for making purchases. To be successful, they must to create emotional bonds with customers that foster continuing relationships. LoyaltyMatch OnDemand Social Loyalty is designed to improve upon the traditional tiered-based loyalty program model by taking advantage of the social incentives, interactions, gaming and word of mouth of social media.

After the jump — what you need to know about LoyaltyMatch OnDemand. Leer más “Loyalty Programs Go Social”

How do you get people to care about privacy?

From today’s MediaPost Social Media Insider

4617591602_ed2cd9ded4_b

How do you get people to care about privacy?

People care about it in offline settings. At home, you know which window shades you prefer to draw closed at which times. At work, you might discuss Saturday night’s exploits with your cubicle-mate and not with your boss. Few can tell online; I can’t. I avoid networks like blippy that share purchases based on credit card data, and I turned off Google Latitude’s option of automatically broadcasting my location from mobile devices, but I’m admittedly inconsistent and too laissez-faire with most other forms of social media.

The latest debates over Facebook’s privacy policies may not last, but there’s a lot of good coming out of the dialogue. If Facebook won’t clearly explain how it publicizes consumers’ information, others are trying to fill the void. Most resources have the echo-chamber effect, only reaching people who care about privacy and social media to begin with. But if enough of these echoes escape and start ricocheting around the water coolers where more Facebook users hang out, then there’s a chance to bring the discussion to people who wouldn’t intentionally look for it.

Let’s look at several attempts to raise awareness about these privacy issues, and how likely they’ll break through the echo chamber:

Matt McKeon’s The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook (via All Facebook)

I keep returning to these illustrations of how Facebook’s default privacy settings have changed over the years. In 2005, userswould share some profile info with friends and their networks. By 2007, basic information was shared with all Facebook users. Now, the default settings allow almost all information to be shared with the entire Internet.

I’ve spent far longer studying the diagrams here than the text, and it’s striking going back and forth between the 2005 and 2010 images. If you’ve seen anything this clear in mainstream media, please share it in the comments, as these infographics are screaming for more exposure.

ReclaimPrivacy.org (via Anthony Haney on Facebook)

Using a bookmarklet you can drag to your browser’s bookmarks, log into Facebook and the link will tell you how secure your privacy settings are. As I continue to violate best practices for maintaining privacy, you can see a screen shot of ReclaimPrivacy’s review of my own settings. Somehow I managed to block all known applications that could leak my personal information, which must have been a fluke. All of my other settings are rated “caution” or “insecure.”

The best part of the tool is that it fixes some of your settings for you. Yet will you really trust a random tool more than Facebook? OK, maybe. Beyond coming from a largely unknown source, the bookmarklet approach will turn off more novice Internet users. It does work, though.

Openbook (via Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land and MediaPost)

What if you could shame people into changing their privacy settings? Openbook searches public status updates for potentially questionable phrases people may share on Facebook. I’ve linked directly to one of the tamer ones, but if you clear the search field and search for something random, what comes up may not fly on network television. Many of the status updates are harmless, but some could be damaging. Searching the phrase “don’t tell anyone,” someone noted how she’s playing hooky from her job, and her profile page says what school district she works for. That won’t help her case for tenure if her district faces budget cuts this year.

I’m not sure how many people will see this, but using live examples of real people makes it easy to relate to them, and if you don’t change your settings because of it, you may well think twice about what you post on Facebook.

Diaspora

Tired of changing your settings? Are you one of ten people who left Facebook in the past month and now have your picture in a major national newspaper as the sign of a trend? Then do I have the network for you! Join Diaspora, “the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network.” If that’s not the tagline for the next 500 million-user social network, I don’t know what is. About 5,000 chipped in nearly $200,000 to make this project happen, well above the $10,000 goal. Aiming low has its perks.

Sorry, but I don’t know how that anti-Facebook angst translates into a Facebook rival. People weren’t looking to leave Six Degrees or Friendster or MySpace; they just kept finding something better and brought more of their friends. There are limits to that scale, so soon enough investors will seek social networks for nematodes or bacteria just to hit growth projections.

I’m not convinced any of these approaches are enough, and the privacy issue is hardly unique to social media. I know my bank has had digital security breaches, but I keep my money there, even if I change my password every so often. There are marketing services firms focused on direct mail and other channels that will probably collect far more data than Facebook ever will.

Facebook gets more attention, though, because it’s new, it’s massive, and we have more control over it than we’re used to. We can do something about it. It’s the monster under the bed we can overcome by shining a flashlight down below and realizing we have nothing to fear.

Yet sometimes it’s more fun to stay on the bed, worry ourselves to sleep, and wait until the morning comes, when we know for sure there’s no monster that can hurt us.


From today’s MediaPost Social Media Insider

4617591602_ed2cd9ded4_b

How do you get people to care about privacy?

People care about it in offline settings. At home, you know which window shades you prefer to draw closed at which times. At work, you might discuss Saturday night’s exploits with your cubicle-mate and not with your boss. Few can tell online; I can’t. I avoid networks like blippy that share purchases based on credit card data, and I turned off Google Latitude‘s option of automatically broadcasting my location from mobile devices, but I’m admittedly inconsistent and too laissez-faire with most other forms of social media. Leer más “How do you get people to care about privacy?”

Where Does Location Fit into the SEO Equation?

By Chris Crum
Targeting Consumers Where They Are and Where They’ve Been

We’re living in an increasingly open and revealing world where people are eager to tell you where they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Not everyone is so eager, but location-sharing is a rising trend that is not to be ignored. Naturally, the phenomenon will have a growing impact on search.
Remember when the industry was still trying to make sense of how social media and search fit together? It’s now fitting together in a variety of ways, and now we’re at a similar point with location and search.

Google Has Its Own Significant Amount of Location Sharers

At the Web 2.0 Expo this week, Google Product Manager Steve Lee revealed some interesting info about Google Latitude, the company’s location-sharing service, which has been around since long before location-sharing became such a huge trend. Foursquare – the location-sharing service you hear about most these days, has a million users. Latitude has 3 million active users, and this year it’s grown 30% per month each month so far. [Más…]

MG Siegler at TechCrunch says Lee hinted that Latitude would soon have a check-in component, something that has made services like Foursquare so popular, and of great use to local businesses. He also said that Latitude has taken some time to gain ground because of iPhone’s lack of the ability to run services in the background (so there isn’t a Latitude iPhone app), but the iPhone OS will have that ability, and Android usage is on the rise (apparently BlackBerry has been big for the service as well). Over 10% of All Android users are using Latitude.

Location as a Search Signal

Google has been very open about how much emphasis it is placing on mobile, and mobile and location-sharing go to together like corn flakes and milk. Smartphone usage will continue to grow. Therefore location-sharing will continue to grow. Android usage in particular is growing rapdily.

Diana Pouliot, Director of Mobile Advertising at Google recently said a third of all Google searches via the mobile web pertain to some aspect of the searcher’s local environment. The company has also been quoted as saying it thinks of location as a “hugely important signal.”

With Google’s newly redesigned SERPs, location-based searches will increase, or rather filtering searches by location will. With the “nearby” option more visible, it stands to reason more people will use it. At this point, I’m not seeing real-time location-based info here, but that may change in the future. Google will continue making tweaks and adding features, and having real-time info here may begin to make sense.


A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.
Image via Wikipedia
Targeting Consumers Where They Are and Where They’ve Been

We’re living in an increasingly open and revealing world where people are eager to tell you where they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Not everyone is so eager, but location-sharing is a rising trend that is not to be ignored. Naturally, the phenomenon will have a growing impact on search.
Remember when the industry was still trying to make sense of how social media and search fit together? It’s now fitting together in a variety of ways, and now we’re at a similar point with location and search.

Google Has Its Own Significant Amount of Location Sharers

At the Web 2.0 Expo this week, Google Product Manager Steve Lee revealed some interesting info about Google Latitude, the company’s location-sharing service, which has been around since long before location-sharing became such a huge trend. Foursquare – the location-sharing service you hear about most these days, has a million users. Latitude has 3 million active users, and this year it’s grown 30% per month each month so far. Leer más “Where Does Location Fit into the SEO Equation?”

Digital Gets Physical


Location-based applications point the way

– Brian Morrissey

adweek/photos/stylus/131352-MobileWorld.jpg

In the great Facebook fan rush of 2009, Skittles stood out. The Wrigley brand was able to accumulate a staggering 3.6 million connections. This gave the brand an opportunity to message this audience — but not much more.

Last month, it decided to get real. Skittles kicked off “Mob the Rainbow,” a social media campaign that turns loose its virtual friends on the real world in service of fun challenges. To start, over 45,000 Skittles fans created Valentine’s Day cards for an unsuspecting traffic enforcement officer in San Francisco. Skittles filmed the encounter and posted it on Facebook, bringing the effort full circle from digital to physical back to digital. It led to another boost in Facebook fans, with nearly 500,000 added in a month.

The Skittles campaign is part of a shift in digital away from users merely sitting in front of computer screens to using new digital tools to affect behavior in the physical world. The growing sophistication of smartphones is driving the creation of these location-based services, which promise to morph the Web from a solitary experience to a ubiquitous connector in the real world.

This evolution has major implications for brands, giving them the possibility of tracking the success of digital campaigns to the store level and changing how they market to consumers.

“Most of the products we market are tangible, real-world products,” said Daniel Stein, CEO of EVB, the Skittles agency behind “Mob the Rainbow.” “Within social media, there are a lot of brands just talking to themselves.”

One of the most promising areas for this type of engagement is mobile. Location-based services were all the rage at South by Southwest last week. The current darlings of the space, Foursquare and Gowalla, squared off with competing parties and efforts to win over the festival’s early-adopter crowds. Both offer similar platforms, allowing users to “check in” to places to alert their friends and also reap virtual rewards.

Foursquare and Gowalla have attracted brand attention. Gowalla has hooked up with The Travel Channel to let fans of Food Wars check in at locations related to the show to earn virtual stamps. Foursquare has a raft of deals, including most recently one with Starbucks that rewards customers for checking into its stores.

The companies are not alone. Google has weighed in to the space with Google Latitude, which lets users opt in to have their friends know their whereabouts based on information from GPS satellites and cell towers. Local city guide Yelp now has a check-in provision, and Twitter last week activated a feature for users that allows them to easily share their locations.

“Location is going to be an embedded part of every experience,” said Ryan Sarver, director of platform at Twitter, during a SXSW panel on the subject. “Every application is going to have some location aspect to it.”

The fly in the ointment of these services is the looming question of user privacy. As the current mood in Washington casts a skeptical eye on behavioral advertising, location-based service presents a host of thorny challenges. The main problem is that, unlike behavioral data online, location services obviously cannot be anonymous without compromising their effectiveness. (See also: “Policing the Online Ad Market”)

“That’s really sensitive data,” said Steve Lee, group product manager at Google. “Important things like location history are opt in.”

Assuming the privacy challenges can be overcome, there are any number of possibilities to marrying the real world with digital data. Augmented reality, which until now has mostly been used for experiences in front of Webcams, is making the leap to mobile phones and elsewhere. General Motors, for example, has begun testing a windshield that uses augmented reality to display directional information, like the location of a building or the edges of a road in poor weather conditions. Marketers will see many more possibilities open up as the technology improves, according to Matthew Szymczyk, CEO at Zugara, which has created an augmented reality shopping application to let people try on clothes virtually.

“Mobile is going to be the touch point,” he said. “What’s limiting it right now is batteries and processing power on the handset.”

Stickybits is another promising new venue that emerged at SXSW. People can affix a sticker to any object and virtually attach digital data, such as a video or a photo, to it. It works with an iPhone application that reads the code. People can also attach digital info to existing marks like bar codes. This opens up innumerable opportunities and perils for brands. Users are already using Stickybits, among other ways, to attach content to cans of Coca-Cola. Currently, if you scan a can you get a dozen pieces of content, ranging from a video of a man testifying to his love of Coke to another of a toddler ambling around a house. It’s conceivable every product could become a font of consumer- and brand-generated content.

According to Seth Goldstein, co-founder of Stickybits, “We’re able to provide almost X-ray vision on the relationships and conversations people are having around branded products.”

http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/digital/e3id96098b1ed5efecdfa8804b47d052fcd

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