UPDATED 14:09 EDT / NOVEMBER 04 2010

Where Location-Based Services are Taking Us: Brands & Beyond

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life via telephone shows that 4 percent of online adults use a location-based service through their mobile phones aimed at finding a location of a certain interest through GPS tracking, more specifically, ‘internet-connected mobile devices’ geolocation capabilities to let users notify others of their locations by “checking in” to that location’.

Location-based services offer by Foursquare, Gowalla or Brightkite are very popular among smartphone users, especially if they are 18-29 years of age. Hispanics are more likely to use LBS (10 percent), compared to whites (3%) or blacks (5%). The gender is also a significant factor, male online users (6 percent) outnumbering female online users (3 percent).

An article posted on SiliconAngle emphasizes the dimensions and increasing intensity of location-based wars – Facebook Places’ 30 million users versus Foursquare’s 4 million users. The number alone might seem to speak up, but the Place feature offered by Facebook is hardly used by its users.  Yesterday, Facebook announced the introduction of a new feature, Places and Deals, allowing ‘users to see deals from their favorite store located near their place’, at a very late time comparing to other LBSs like Foursquare, Groupon and Gowalla who had introduced this feature timely.

It all boils down to market monetization, as we’ve seen quite clearly with some of Foursquare and Facebook’s latest moves.  Geolocation is key to markeitng future, and it will find its way into a number of consumer interactions, spanning entertainment, news, finance, safety and networking.  That being said, there’s a wealth of opportunities here for businesses to hop on board, though they’d likely work best through the establishing channels.

Taking note of these larger trends within the location-based space, it’s evident that marketing distribution, analytics and payment systems are of heavy interest.  Utilizing existing platforms for growth in this areas is something we’re going to see a great deal of.  Determining who to target within this space means taking a look back at the report–location-based service audiences are similar to those we’re seeing with overall mobile adoption trends, enabling us to conjecture that young, female shoppers are eventually likely to be major, intersecting targets for any related businesses in this space.

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