@ Mobilize: Searching For Ways To Make Money Using Location


At Mobilize, a panel tackled the issue of where the noise and opportunities are for mobile when it comes to monetizing content. The big question was on whether it’s too early to use location to provide more context to search. On the panel is: Rick Robinson, VP of products and services at Sprint’s Xohm; Lee Ott, director of Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) oneSearch; Ted Morgan, co-founder and CEO of Skyhook Wireless; Steve Lee, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) project manager; and Paran Johar, CMO of JumpTap. The big conclusion was that location is being used a lot in applications today as a component, but it’s early days when trying to use location to monetize content.

On location as an ingredient: Yahoo’s Lee: We see a ton of apps coming out right now incorporating location. But what we get hung up on is location-only apps. It’s an enabling tool for other services. Consumers buy services and they are excited when the service is smarter. Xohm’s Rick: We want to provide electronic manufacturers around the world — video cameras and other devices — a chip along with our platform, so that location is an ingredient. Location is a key component of everything that is going to be developed. Google’s Steve: There’s some good examples on the iPhone. The *AOL* radio app automatically shows you local radio stations, and there’s a Twitter app called Twinkle that shows people who are using Twitter nearby.

More on relevancy and user behavior after the jump

Location adds relevancy: JumpTap’s Paran: “Location is one input to build relevancy. The more relevancy you can provide, the less it’s an ad, and the more it’s content. Skyhook’s Ted: People will start to develop apps and ways to make money, and then you tie in demographic-based data. It’s tremendously valuable to know income level, age and ethnicity. If you can tie that together with Internet searches, and where they go during the day, it’s interesting. It’s admittedly very early, and location is the piece that ties that together. Yahoo’s Lee: Advertisers aren’t interested in knowing a person’s latitude and longitude. We announced an Internet-location platform, which allows developers to provide that location, and put it into context to get to something that an advertiser cares about — a street corner, a neighborhood or a city or state. It’s going to take us a while to get our hands wrapped around it.

User behavior: JumpTap’s Paran: We are seeing that 25 percent of search queries are local, and then 40 percent of those are for where someone is going. There’s going to be a tipping point. We haven’t hit it yet. From an agency standpoint, the volume of dollars will happen when we hit it…It will be an open checkbook that will scale very quickly. Yahoo’s Lee: Fundamentally it’s about taking the Internet with me. Location becomes an important ingredient. How does that change when you know where the person is in the world? At Yahoo, we call it W4 (Who, What, Where, When). We did a study and found that 10 percent of queries were for local business listings. Google’s Steve: On Google Maps for mobile, when they have a location version, we are seeing double the usage, specifically things like routing. If you are getting a route to go to this conference, if you don’t have to type in your current location, it makes it much easier. As far as search queries, we don’t see quite double, we see double the local business search, but on search we see less because we are providing a better experience.

An audience member innocently asked if everyone could say how much money they are making: Everyone hedged. JumpTap’s Paran: Location is one component that will increase the monetization of the advertising. The dollars will initially go to display advertising, and then to search. It has to scale first. We are seeing the volume of queries double month over month since January. Google’s Steve: Google search on mobile is generating revenue. Yahoo’s Lee: Honestly, Yahoo is an advertising company. Almost all of the advertising we do is location-targeted (even on the PC). On mobile specifically, it’s small relative to that billion-dollar figure.

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