From location based to situation based services: What are the key differentiators for the mobile operator?

John WilmesLocation-based services (LBS) have found their way to the heart of the mobile value proposition. According to the analyst firm Forrester, 30 per cent of European online consumers with mobile phones are interested in using mobile GPS/navigation services, while 52 per cent of Smartphone owners with unlimited mobile Internet packages already do so. While the prominence of LBS is clear,  I’m concerned that the traditional LBS model doesn’t have enough local efficiency built into the system to scale geographically.

This means that as networks sell to advertisers and attempt to match them to a publisher network, very few of those ads carry any LBS at all. Those that offer “local” targeting have meant city and, in some cases, area code – which is fine for tests but doesn’t warrant a premium for location. In light of this, how are the new locations- and context-based technology now available different from traditional LBS, and how does it provide the operator with more fine-grained visibility into user activity?

New situation-aware technology translates specific contexts into logical situations, like ‘being in a car that is almost out of fuel’. If a system knows such a situation, it is able to deliver the user more specific information. As a result, operators are now able to continuously monitor millions of users who are generating events depending on their situations. This is in contrast to the traditional LBS model, which sent users information purely on their location, not based on what they were doing when at the location. As a result of having this enhanced visibility into user behaviour, operators will now be able to target more accurate location-based advertising and promotions based on the users’ usage patterns when they are at a specific location.

So in light of the continued interest in LBS, it’s worth asking: would you rather have a location-based service, or will situation-aware based technologies soon be top of mind?

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