Fusing Mobile, Social and Monetization: A Conversation With Lolay

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I recently had the chance to catch up with Gary Rudolph, cofounder of mobile and social app developer Lolay. Rudolph is the former VP of technology for CityGrid where he also worked with cofounder Bardia Dejban.

Lolay builds custom apps that focus on location, and social elements. But unlike most development shops, it plans to incubate its own apps one every six months, according to Rudolph. This comes with the advantage of learning and also marketing its technology.

First out of the gate was Where U At?, an iPhone app that lets friends and business associates find each other. Similar in some ways to Glympse, this lets users define a time frame in which their location is known. The people meeting can then track each other’s location and status.

But unlike many mobile app developers I talk to, monetization is baked in to the product model at a very early stage. Specifically, CityGrid ads are plugged in to help users discover places to eat or visit, within the context of these meet-ups. This fuses discovery with monetization.

Ad targeting is based mostly on location and the app can even pick places that are half way between two people. The company also has the ability to suggest places based on other contextual triggers such as time of day or reason for meeting (business, personal, blind date, etc.).

As far as partners go, Rudolph is interested in working with anyone that is building apps or has an ownership of content that is location-based or social in nature. One example he gave is film promotion; not only a major area of mobile ad spending but also one in need of evolution.

Being able to utilize the social aspects of Where U At? with CityGrid’s local ad serving is a natural combination to drive people into local theaters. Next up could be more group buying type deals a natural fit for the company’s social local backbone, and an area primed to take off in mobile.

Also next on the roadmap is to reach a larger market with an Android app for Where U At? and a progression of new in-house apps. Where U At? is currently iPhone only and can be downloaded for free here.

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