Category Archives: Local Mobile

Google Acquires Incentive Targeting For Coupon Programs

Mike Dudas of Google just tweeted that Google has acquired Incentive Targeting to power highly targeted manufacturer and private label coupon programs. He noted that “Incentive Targeting..[does] for retail couponing what Google [does] for online advertising: make simple, relevant, measurable, & effective”

It would appear that the acquisition is for both talent and IP. And as Greg Sterling points out strategic. The company website notes that their “patent-pending technology allows non-technical marketing executives to design sophisticated, relevant promotions—and measure ROI in real time—directly over the Internet”. The product is interesting because it will deliver the coupon either via cell phone & social networks or via traditional methods of print and register receipt AND closes the loop for easy redemption and tracking.

It is an intriguing acquisition in a number of ways. It obviously puts Google directly into the coupon business. In the past they have never committed to couponing in any significant way and it had been said that Larry Page in fact had a disdain for coupons. Their past behaviors have certainly reflected a certain schizoid, on again off again approach to coupons.

This product, while currently serving large chains and manufacturers, could readily scale down to a single merchant and fit into the SMB dashboard/integrated marketing portal that is rumored to be in the works. Imagine a single location grocery store or our local 30 location chain being able to have an advertising person easily issue coupons across media & track the results in real time. It sounds like a winner to me. It could obviously move beyond groceries as well.

Now lets hope that it sees the light of day sooner than Google’s last local purchases of PunchD and TalkBin.

NetMarketShare: Mobile Market Share Passes 10% for First Time

Netmarkshare is reporting that aggregate mobile usage has passed 10% across all websites for the first time. The bulk of that usage is attributable to iOS which comes in at ~60%. Obviously not all of that usage is truly mobile as the iPad has become an early evening and late night alternative to desktop browsing. It is now time for tablets to be tracked separately from mobile phones so that the market can better understand the distribution of usage.

It is also interesting to note that Google has a market dominating 89% share in the mobile search market. So while usage on mobile devices might be moving away from browsing Google’s domination in the market makes it obvious that focusing your mobile ranking efforts there is a no brainer.

Blogging From Remote Locales – iPhone as a work station

Last week was an exciting week for me. During the Tuesday afternoon session of Getlisted Local University it became clear that big changes were going on at Google with an interface upgrade AND Google+. Jeff Huber, Google VP of Local and commerce, kept leaving juicy comments on my blog and I just didn’t want to be off the grid….

But we had scheduled some family time at a friend’s cottage at Rondeau Provincial Park in Ontario. The problem wasn’t that we had scheduled family time, my family understands and even enables my blogging addiction. It was that there was NO wifi for 20 miles although there was some sporadic cell coverage. Because I travel rarely and when I do, have access to hotel wifi, I don’t have 3g for my laptop.

My solution? An iPhone with just enough accessories that allowed me to “keep on posting”. Here are the details of my setup for those of you that want to travel lightly, aren’t willing to pony up for a Macbook Air with a Verizon card and are willing to make a few compromises.

-my iPhone
-an Ultra Pod stand. cost: $24.99
-an Apple wireless keyboard. cost: $49.
-the mobile WordPress app

Total cost: $75 + tax.

The WordPress iPhone app has gotten very good, the keyboard is simple to sync and is very light and the tripod serves triple duty for me as a bike accessory, AV stand and a monitor display when blogging. You could cut costs on both the stand and the keyboard but both are durable and very functional in this configuration (and they look good too 🙂 ). The only thing holding me back from traveling exclusively this way is my need for last minute PowerPoint updates prior to presenting.

I’d be curious to hear of others who have made the switch to a smartphone instead of a laptop as travel device.

Mapquest 4- Free Turn by Turn on the iPhone

I very rarely drive to places unknown and thus am in little need of turn by turn navigation. Certainly not enough to buy a dedicated GPS device and not enough to warrant investing $99 in the iPhone TomTom app.

But it turned out that it was best for me to drive to Getlisted Local U in Grand Rapids this past week and since I was traveling solo I decided to use Mapquest 4’s iPhone app with turn by turn capability. I had 3 legs to the trip; Olean to a near in Detroit suburb, Detroit to Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids to Rondeau Provincial Park in Canada. With but one glitch, I can report that the performance of the product was superb… it reliably alerted me of upcoming turns, had very accurate maps and even went into a reduced volume mode when I was talking on the phone so that I could hear its instructions in the background

I can’t speak to its global use or even its value in far away places where road data is likely to be less accurate but as a general purpose tool it performed very well almost all of the time.

The one exception was when attempting to get onto the bridge to Canada in Detroit…. the entrance was under construction and between the GPS and the detour signs I was caught in an endless loop across the highway several times and not finding the entrance. When I finally saw a state road sign that read:
Follow the detour signs NOT your GPS (idiot was implied) I realized that Mapquest was not the only GPS experiencing the problem. The mass of cars of which I was but one, seemed to be guided by the same bad instructions, and all successfully made it onto the bridge and into Canada.

As smart phone penetration has reached such high levels and the quality of free turn by turn products hits “good enough” levels, the role of the low end dedicated GPS devices will continue to decline.

The market is reflecting this reality. TomTom bought TeleAtlas for $8 billion several years ago. The combined company is now worth a fraction of that and things don’t look rosy for them going forward. Certainly a $99 app isn’t going to save them.

With Google going their own way on map data in the US and Bing partnering so closely with Nokia, the opportunities for TomTom/TeleAtlas seemed to be dramatically diminished in the low end. Its not clear who would want to buy the combo either.

Ah well life in local is tough.

Kudos to Mapquest for a mobile product well done.

Why ATT, Verizon & Disco Should be Looking over their Shoulder -> iMessage

At last week’s iOS5 introduction the big news across the internet was Apple’s deep OS integration of Twitter. Truth be told, it is an important development, one which makes sense for both Apple and more importantly for Twitter. The move was a typical Apple finesse, threading the wildly competitive social arena needle in a way that gives both Apple and Twitter a distinct edge in their respective battles with Google and Facebook. It is a move that could take Twitter from a well known, but not broadly used product and quickly attract a significant portion of Apple’s 200 million iOS devices to their user base. It will instantly make Apple’s mobile products more effective as a social & curation platforms. It could also facilitate Twitter’s and Apple’s entree into the deals and check in arena or other local services.

But an even more important, although somewhat less noticed, announcement came in the form of the new iMessage. The announcement was nowhere near as widely disseminated receiving a mere 2,470,000 mentions in Google’s index last week  compared to the 145,000,000 mentions that the iOS5/Twitter union brought. Did the crowd miss something (with this exception)? I think so and it was a momentous event. Apple is going after a bigger pie, texting. And it was apparently done with no prior knowledge on the part of the telcos and took them by surprise.

Texting is one of the world’s most popular forms of communication. While somewhere on the order of 13% of the US population use Twitter at least once per month, 72% of adults 18 and older with cell phones send and receive text messages on a daily basis.  But penetration is but half of the story. Usage is also orders of magnitude higher with texting. On average users send 10 texts per day but in the 12-17 demographic it rises to an average of 112 per day. Users embrace their most intimate and connected social circle via texting. Its usage patterns (and the data generated from it) much more closely reflects and predicts user activities than even Facebook or search behaviors. Texting is the ultimate local, social product.

Texting has long been a strong hold of the telcos. For years it is has languished technically while they milked the technology for profit and loyalty. The lack of innovation has not gone unnoticed and last year a number of internet companies (GroupMeGoogle’s Disco.comHuddlFastSociety and FB’s Beluga) started adding group texting and social features to texting via the internet. But these technology innovations, while needed, still require adding a totally new layer of actions to texting, limiting their appeal to the geeky not the main stream. Texting is ripe for a revolution and Apple is driving a semi-truck into the gaping hole left by the telcos, a hole that can not really satisfied by the Disco’s of the world

Here are some of the announced features of iMessage and given its open, internet backbone any number of other feature could be easily integrated:

  • Send Unlimited Text Messages via Wi-Fi
  • Group Messaging
  • Delivery & Read Receipts
  • Secure Encryption
  • Seamless integration with the current text app

Apple’s iMessage brings not just innovation but simplicity of innovation to texting. The enhanced functionality is largely automated and any complexity is totally masked by its integration into the iPhone’s existing and simple Messages app. iMessage will transparently use Wifi if available (no text plan needed), allows for a richer media experience, adds additional functionality like group texting and opens up the many  iPad and iPod as clients. It is built upon the “XMPP [protocol which] powers Jabber IM, Google Talk and Apple’s own iChat Server and local iChat IM over Bonjour ” making it easy to integrate texting with a raft of other services. Something that the current generation of texting products barely considers important.

The telcos learned that the sizzle of the internet attracts customers but that texting keeps them coming back.  Apple understands that and has enhanced texting in a way that should instill incredible loyalty amongst all users but particularly younger ones.

Looking at the recent data from Nielsen shows why this younger demographic is so important to Apple’s future:

Kids Today…

  • Are the Heaviest Mobile Video Viewers: On average, mobile subscribers ages 12-17 watched 7 hours 13 minutes of mobile video a month in Q4 2010, compared to 4 hours 20 minutes for the general population.
  • Are More Receptive to Mobile Advertising than their Elders: More than half (58%) surveyed in September 2010 said they “always” or “sometimes” look at mobile ads.
  • Out-Text All Other Age Groups: In Q1 2011, teens 13-17 sent an average of 3,364 mobile texts per month, more than doubling the rate of the next most active texting demo, 18-24 year olds (1,640 texts per month).
  • Talk Less on the Phone: Besides seniors 65-plus, teens talk the least on their phones, talking an average of 515 minutes per month in Q1 2011 versus more than 750 minutes among 18-24 year olds.
  • Grew Up in the Age of Social Media—and It Shows: While they make up just 7.4 percent of those using social networks, 78.7 percent of 12-17 year olds visited social networks or blogs.
  • Watch Less TV than the General Population: The average American watched 34 hours 39 minutes of TV per week in Q4 2010, a year-over-year increase of two minutes. Teens age 12-17 watch the least amount of TV on average (23 hours 41 minutes per week).
  • Spend Less Time on their Computers: American 18 year olds averaged 39 hours, 50 minutes online from their home computers, of which 5 hours, 26 minutes was spent streaming online video.

This age group doesn’t just text but  are throwing over their TVs, phone and computers for their mobile devices and they READ the dam ads. This is the truly post PC generation that will make the portable connected device like the iPhone, the mainstream computing platform of tomorrow. Apple is creating the products that speak to these consumption patterns.

Apple may be the one company that can penetrate the walled garden that has existed around texting for so long. They are not beholden to the telcos in the same way as Microsoft or Google (although I suppose Google could solve this problem is they so desired) and they offer an integration with the phone that companies like Disco can’t match. Minimally the new technology will create pressure on the telcos to enhance texting. But it could very well also lead to an unseating of the incumbents and bring more innovation and lower pricing to texting technology.

But in making iMessage a compelling, no-brainer and compelling loyalty play, Apple is not just moving into the territory defined by texting usage but they are cementing their relationship for years to come with the generation that defines the future of computing. Its not just the telcos that need to look over their shoulders.

30% of all Restaurant Queries on Google Are Mobile

In a very good online webinar that Google offered called Are You Mobile Ready? they shared some interesting internal data on the percentage of mobile queries. The charts show the % of mobile queries to total search queries from January 2007 through January of this year. Previously Bing had noted that as many as 50% of all restaurant queries are mobile.

In Google’s data the % of mobile queries as a % of total queries range from 15% in the insurance industry to almost 30% in restaurants. It is interesting but not surprising that Christmas peaks are obvious in the consumer electronics chart.

Click to view larger:

restaurant mobile search queries

insurance mobile search queries

Continue reading 30% of all Restaurant Queries on Google Are Mobile

The Future of Shopping? Get Coupons, Scan, Buy & Check Yourself Out via iPhone

iPad Grocery Shopping appThe MIT Technology review put up a video about an iPhone app created by Modiv Media that lets grocery store customers “scan items while they shop, presents them with personalized offers as they go, and speeds up their checkout” by transmitting the completed order to the register. The app and system is currently being deployed by the supermarket chain Stop & Shop at its 375 stores in the North East.

From the Modiv Media site: “From check-in to check-out, they expect a seamless experience that provides them value. Value that is delivered through personalized offers, the ability to shop and scan with their smartphone and self-checkout that’s fast and without waiting in line. And, in return, they’ll spend more, 10% – 17% more.”

The MIT article noted:

The app uses data from the loyalty card to present offers based on the user’s past purchases and current location in the store. It works in addition to the existing loyalty program, offering savings on top of the deals already advertised on store shelves.

When the user has finished shopping, the app sends information about the contents of the shopping cart to the store’s point-of-sale system. The user can go to any register, scan the loyalty card, and pay for the order.

Modiv Mobile provides retailers with a white-labeled platform on which to build a personalized shopping app that is integrated with your POS and targets offers based on data from your loyalty program or customer data.

Let me know if you think this is the future of grocery (all?) shopping?

Google Latitude Adds Checkin Offers Nationwide

Yesterday was a busy day for Google local. Google management changes in Local & the Hotpot rebranding made front page news around the web. An announcement that snuck through the cracks was the limited nationwide rollout of  check-in offers at “thousands of places across the U.S. using Latitude on the iPhone and Android”.

Offers (aka Coupons) and Latitude have both been step children in the pantheon of Google local products….huge but unrealized potential month in and month out over a fairly long time horizon. But they both seem to have found each of late and are the better for it.

Coupons, now called Offers, a nearly hidden feature in Places for what seems like eons, have often languished. They got their start in July of 2006 and received some push into 2007. For a while there was appreciable annual growth in the numbers of coupons in the system. But doubts about Google’s willingness to promote coupons surfaced early. By early 2009, amidst no promotion from Google and their failure to showcase coupons in any significant way, Google’s coupon inventory showed significant year over year declines. None but the most intrepid consumers could find them and even SMBs that availed themselves of the feature had trouble locating their own coupons.

After hitting their low point in early 2009, Google Coupons slowly started receiving limited attention from Google, at first cleaning out old and stale inventory and then  very sloooowly adding features and slightly increased visibilty. In November 2009  mobile compatibility and in June 2010 SMBs were given the ability to highlight them on their listing via Tags, potentially giving them front page exposure.

Shortly before loosing out in their effort to acquire Groupon in November of last year, Google rebranded Coupons as Offers. A superficial change but one that indicated that coupons were no longer on life support.

Google’s intended direction for the coupon aspect of Offers became clearer with a very public test in Austin concurrently with the South by Southwest Conference, integrating coupons with Latitude’s Check in process at 60 locations.  This newest expansion (details visible here) of offer checkins leverages some high value coupons at nationwide retailers and eateries: Continue reading Google Latitude Adds Checkin Offers Nationwide

NYTimes Rolling Out Fee Based Program in Canada First

I just received the following email. Under the new plan, my current reading style would cost $35 /mo. That’s not going to happen.

NYTimes NYTimes NYTimes
An important announcement from
the publisher of The New York Times 

Fine Print

Dear New York Times Reader, 

Today marks a significant transition for The New York Times as we introduce digital subscriptions. It’s an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in The Times, one that will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world and on any platform. The change will primarily affect those who are heavy consumers of the content on our Web site and on mobile applications.

This change comes in two stages. Today, we are rolling out digital subscriptions to our readers in Canada, which will enable us to fine-tune the customer experience before our global launch. On March 28, we will begin offering digital subscriptions in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

If you are a home delivery subscriber of The New York Times, you will continue to have full and free access to our news, information, opinion and the rest of our rich offerings on your computer, smartphone and tablet. International Herald Tribune subscribers will also receive free access to

If you are not a home delivery subscriber, you will have free access up to a defined reading limit. If you exceed that limit, you will be asked to become a digital subscriber.

This is how it will work, and what it means for you:

  • On, you can view 20 articles each month at no charge (including slide shows, videos and other features). After 20 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site.
  • On our smartphone and tablet apps, the Top News section will remain free of charge. For access to all other sections within the apps, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber.
  • The Times is offering three digital subscription packages that allow you to choose from a variety of devices (computer, smartphone, tablet). More information about these plans is available
  • Again, all New York Times home delivery subscribers will receive free access to and to all content on our apps. If you are a home delivery subscriber, go to to sign up for free access.
  • Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.
  • The home page at and all section fronts will remain free to browse for all users at all times.

For more information, go to

Thank you for reading The New York Times, in all its forms.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
Publisher, The New York Times
Chairman, The New York Times Company

Fine Print 

As a loyal reader of, you will receive a special offer to save on our new digital subscriptions. We will e-mail this special offer starting on March 28, the day we begin charging for unlimited access to our Web site and mobile apps*. We truly value your readership and look forward to bringing you the world’s finest journalism every day.

Fine Print

*Mobile apps are not supported on all devices. Does not include e-reader editions, Premium Crosswords or The New York Times Crosswords apps. Other restrictions apply. 

This message was sent to inform you about an important change to our Web site and NYTimes applications. Please note, if you have chosen not to receive marketing messages from The New York Times, that choice applies only to promotional messages. You will continue to receive important notifications that are legally required or could affect your service.

To review our Privacy Policy, please go to:

© 2011 The New York Times Company / 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018

Web Bug from

Apparently, the subscriptions ($15, 20 or 35/mo) will be sold through iTunes. At least Apple will be getting richer if no one else does as they will get 30% monthly of each subscription they sell.