Last year was a big one for email-based deals companies like Groupon, Living Social, Thrillest and Seize The Deal. Google’s confirmed development of its own player in the daily deals game is further confirmation that locality and personalization are the direction of the digital advertising future. For businesses and their clientele, this trend represents another pillar of the mutually-beneficial relationship that is developing between brands and their loyal followers through interacting in the social media space. The days of spray-and-pray marketing tactics are long gone, and the idea that it’s the quality of your audience (i.e., their relevancy in relation to your product or service) rather than the sheer number of eyeballs you reach, that matters is finally the respected philosophy. With location-based services (LBS), marketers have the opportunity to target potential customers that are physically nearby and therefore more likely to make an actual visit or purchase. Likewise, individual users can create a history of their preferences for food, shopping, entertainment and anything else they like to do by using a variety of LBS social media tools to favorite certain places, check-in multiple times or by simply answering questions to receive similar recommendations.
In the digital world, Facebook is commonly referred to as “the owner of the Social Graph” (and maybe one day, all of the Interwebz) while LinkedIn dominates the Professional Graph, but the race to see who will emerge as the Leader of Locality and reign supreme over the Commercial Graph is currently anything but predictable. There are the familiar players like Yelp, Urbanspoon, Gowalla and FourSquare, the market leader up until the launch of Facebook Places. Despite being the newcomer, Facebook Places trounced FourSquare by attracting more than seven times more users in a matter of months, and the integration of Facebook Deals solidifies the profitability of this market. With that in mind, here’s a look at two new contenders with the potential shift the power again.
Google seems to have a variety of strategies for claiming the Commercial Graph title, but their most recent incarnation delivers a more integrated user experience. Have you ever rated movies you have watched across several categories on Netflix by giving them stars? Welcome to Google Hotpot – only you’re rating places you’ve been instead of movies you’ve seen. Since Hotpot is a Google product, it also boasts seamless search functionality for places near you in specific categories (i.e., shoe stores) and recalls your Google Maps history to easily enable you to rate that place you checked out for lunch when you return to the office. Hotpot requires users to be logged in to their Google accounts.
Bizzy is a locality/preference experience currently in Beta form for three different cities. Bizzy’s philosophy is that reviews aren’t enough to identify places that will be a fit for you. Instead, Bizzy encourages you to create a user profile (quick and painless compared to other platforms) and answer a series of looped (and cheeky) questions about your personal preferences. In return, its algorithms will deliver places that you should not only enjoy based on your answers, but are also located in the neighborhoods you frequent – a la Facebook’s Suggestions and LinkedIn’s People You May Know features. Additionally, Bizzy will make it easy to connect with other users in your area who like the same activities as you, therefore helping you develop relationships with new friends rather than maintain communication with old friends. Since it’s still in Beta form, much of Bizzy’s functionality hasn’t been rolled out yet, but Dallas is one of the cities the platform is being tested in so try out both and tell us what you think!