JiWire Report: LBS Checks In for Christmas

Evidently, the popular adoption — or lack thereof — of location-based applications and services may simply be a function of whom you talk to. JiWire asked the on-the-go audience that it serves ads to across public Wi-Fi networks, and the holiday outlook for LBS is markedly sunnier than the dimmer results recently released by PEW.

In a sample of its tech-enthusiast users for its Q3 2010 Mobile Audience Insights Report, JiWire returned that an astounding 89 percent of respondents are likely to use location-based tools this holiday season. These are the same Foursquares, Gowallas, Loopts, SCVNGRs, et al that only 4 percent of PEW’s cross-section reported using in a study published earlier this month. The key differences: JiWire’s audience is exclusively Wi-Fi (thus catering to an on-the-move crowd), with much of its wireless distribution occurring in venues such hotels and airports that skew toward higher-end demos that are heavier holiday spenders.

David Staas, JiWire’s SVP of Marketing, told BIA/Kelsey that “over the last 12 months, we’ve seen an explosion of location-oriented content that’s taking place because of consumer demand. Consumers are starting to think from a location-centric perspective.”

JiWire’s majority, 61 percent, value finding store locations above all other mobile features. Interestingly, 33 percent prefer using LBS to search the product inventory of nearby stores. This validates Google Product Places, Milo, Krillion and a host of others that are partnering with retailers to share real-time inventory, an idea founded in research that indicates that most purchases still occur in store … but nearly half of them are motivated by online research.

LBS has begun to earn a checkered name in some circles because of the gimmickiness and fatigue associated with check-ins and virtual rewards. But JiWire suggests that 49 percent of the on-the-go crowd use these capabilities. They’re checking in principally to unlock deals and promotions, not to accululate virtual capital, supporting the notion that tangible bait is pivotal to drive store traffic.

This reaffirms a previous JiWire study that showed that the majority (51 percent) of its on-the-go audience was comfortable sharing location in exchange for more relevant advertising because, as Staas said, “it’s a value exchange. They’re getting something useful back.”

Also noteworthy: 30 percent of the sampled audience is willing to travel more than five miles to redeem a mobile coupon. For all the talk of hyperlocal and geotargeting, these results affirm the importance of a different term, one that Gannett Digital Network General Manager Josh Resnik recently shared with BIA/Kelsey — “hyper-relevancy.” People will travel if offers are contextually and psychographically germane. “It’s about matching audience with location,” Staas said. “Location has different components, including marketing to the right consumer.”

So, where does the truth lie? Again, it probably depends on whom you ask, and chances are it falls somewhere in-between. By the same token, several recent announcements have the potential to mainstream LBS well beyond the walls of technophilia. Facebook Deals and Places, coupled with Google Places. Place Search, Product Search and Hotpot, run the gamut of LBS, encompassing local, social and retail.

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