Q&A: Telmap and the future of location-based advertising

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Motti Kushnir, Telmap CMO1.jpg
With print media slowly dying, so too is the effectiveness of print advertising space. Increasingly, advertisers are turning to the digital domain to tout their wares. Sitting at the forefront of this wave are Telmap, whose location-based advertising systems are able to pinpoint potential customers and drive engagement not only through pushing adverts tailored to a person’s taste, but by taken into account who close a potential customer is to a point of purchase.

We caught up with Telmap’s Chief Marketing Officer, Motti Kushnir, to discuss his company’s plans for the future.

Q: How has being bought by Intel affected things at Telmap? What benefits/drawbacks come from being part of such a gigantic global brand?

A: As the deal just closed on November 30th, it’s too early to really talk about its impact on Telmap. There are many benefits for both sides really. Intel sees mobility as one of its growth engines and plays a leading role across the mobility ecosystem, including consumer services. Location is a key pillar in mobility and Telmap is a market leader in the mobile location industry bringing with it some key assets.

Telmap has developed over the years a cutting edge technology and IP portfolio around
mapping, local search, and navigation. As a result, around 7 million end users are engaging with the Telmap location companion worldwide on a daily basis. Telmap also leads strategic relationships with tier-1 operators worldwide, powering their location services, and is working closely with leading content publishers from around the world whose brands Telmap integrated into the location companion for a richer, ultra-local more familiar user experience. In addition, Telmap’s location platform tools and APIs allow the developers’ community to enrich their applications with location and content capabilities.

Telmap will of course benefit from the scale and exposure enabled by being part of a global operation such as Intel, so the combination of Telmap’s assets together with Intel’s leadership, technology and global reach, is expected to result in a powerful joint offering for valuable and relevant mobile internet services, bringing Telmap services to tens of millions of users around the world.

Q: Tell us a little bit about Telmap’s plans for location-based advertising in 2012.

A: There is the “old-school”, traditional view of location-based advertising that talks about banners, sponsored search results, branded POIs on map, etc. But Telmap believes that the real opportunity for 2012 is around coupons and vouchers, a field that’s growing tremendously, as well as commission-based services such as bookings and reservations. These two very prominent fields are where Telmap is going to focus its location-based advertising efforts in 2012.

Q: Who are Telmap working with to push location-based advertising campaigns?

A: Telmap has identified quite a lot of local advertising partners in its key markets. This is a continuous process, so we expect to bring more advertising partners on board during Q1 and Q2 of 2012. A partial list of the partners we are already working with includes: Advantago, KaufDA, Coupies, MyMobai, GeoAd, xAD, Yell Spain, and more.

Q: Please explain your licensing terms. What are the benefits of being a Telmap affiliate?

A: Telmap affiliates enjoy access to our distribution platform, to the mechanism of billing
through the operator as well as enhanced brand recognition. In terms of licensing, we engage in a revenue share model, splitting revenues between Telmap, the operator and the affiliate.

Q: What are the key factors in encouraging engagement from the end user with location-
based adverts?

A: Telmap believes there are three key factors that will ensure active engagement of users with location-based adverts and offers. First, the offer really has to be relevant to the actual, real-time location of the user at the time the offer is served. We will not, for example, divert users more than 800 meters when they are in the car and 300 meters when they are on foot, in order to follow an advert/offer, as our studies show that beyond these distances, people don’t value the offer as a relevant one, to their current location. Next, it has to be in the right context, to prove relevant to the user. For example, if we offer a coupon to the zoo on a Monday morning, when someone is on its way to the office, the offer will deem itself as completely irrelevant, as the user is not in leisure-time mindset. Serve the same coupon on a Saturday morning, and the user receptiveness would be a lot higher, as it’s the weekend and his/her current mindset matches such an offer. Lastly, the advert has to carry a real benefit for the user, for example 10% off, 1+1 offer or any other benefit that will entice the user. The advert should not be just a general awareness-generating advert as that’s not as effective when it comes to location-based advertising. We at Telmap, make sure that every advert or offer served to our users indeed follows these three rules.

Q: If location-based advertising in your navigation apps is more attention-grabbing than
traditional advertising methods, do issues of on-the-road safety then become a concern?
Should this influence advert placement and design?

A: Telmap makes sure, in addition to following the three rules described above, that adverts are being served as an integral part of the application’s regular flow, to minimize user’s distraction. For example, we don’t currently serve adverts during in-car navigation sessions, as we are still working on the best way to do that without being intrusive and distracting to the driver. We are considering voice-based adverts, and other ways of doing this, as it is clear to us that road safety should come first, above all.

Q: How about the adoption of NFC tech? Will contactless payment points have an influence on location based advertising?

A: NFC is a new method of payment, in addition to the already established credit cards, pay-pal, mobile bill, app-store and in-app payment methods. The advantage of NFC for us is that it can be used as another method of locating the user, indoors this time. For example, if a user just paid via NFC technology in a mall, we have knowledge on his/her in-door whereabouts at that moment in time, which can help us serve him with even more targeted offers.

Q: How sure are you of people’s receptiveness to location based advertising? It’s fair to say that some people feel advertising is already quite pushy; will people really want it following them and around on their smartphones in their pockets?

A: Telmap believes that the secret lies within the how and when the advert is being served. We see from both trials, consumer research, and results from the field, that as long as we adhere to the three rules mentioned above, and ensure that the ad serving is done as an integral part of the flow, people will see this as valuable service, that they are even willing to pay for, and don’t really feel interrupted. Some examples include a Telmap implementation in cooperation with ‘REST’, Israel’s leading restaurant guide, launching location-aware restaurant coupons, where 29% of users who accessed the app’s widgets carousel, used it to access ‘REST’ coupons, with more than 10% coupons conversion rate.

Q: How about issues of privacy? What information do Telmap and your partners keep from those who interact with their location based adverts?

A: Telmap doesn’t save any user information. We send the network information about the
user’s location, and contextual information such as the key word request made, the context of the request (drive, walk, etc.), but all these data points are made anonymous, transferred under an anonymous, random identifier between Telmap and the ad server. Once the ad serving is done nothing is kept, so really there are not privacy issues here.

Q: Will Telmap be looking to expand their Augmented Reality offerings in the future? It was a term on the tip of the tech-world’s tongue late last year but seems to have fell out of vogue now. Does the future really still have Minority Report-style interactive, aware adverts on the way?

A: Like any new technology, there was a big hype around Augmented Reality (AR). It quieted down a bit, and if it will prove valuable to the user, it will go through a maturing phase and will stick around. Telmap believes this will happen with AR and we are working on integrating AR into our application. We don’t believe it carries a lot of value during in-car navigation, but rather during pedestrian navigation and wandering and exploration mode, especially in urban environments. Users can use it to better understand which stores reside in a certain building, before entering the building itself, what attractions are available around them, businesses open hours, sales that are going on, etc. We definitely believe it can bring lot of added value to end users.

Gerald Lynch
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