A new study on location-based services seems to suggest they aren’t catching on as quickly as some marketers would have us believe. The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project released some numbers on the use of LBS (location-based services), such as Gowalla and Foursquare, and the results are interesting.
The study found 4% of online adults use these services, and on any given day, only 1% of Internet users are sharing location data via LBS.
So obviously we are in the early-adopter stage of the market, but who knows when it will catch on and take off like a wildfire? I don’t think anyone can say for certain when that will be, if ever. But the report made me think about the value I find in location-based services, and what would really draw me to use these applications.
I have to admit the first thing that came to my mind was money. If I could check in at my favorite store and get a 15%-off coupon, that would entice me to use the service. Similarly, if an application kept track of my position via my mobile phone and offered deals at restaurants nearby, I could get on board. I think the creepiness of being tracked by the application would be offset by the monetary savings.
But the deals have to be worth it. Let’s face it, using an LBS app requires some time and commitment, even if it’s only a few seconds. People aren’t going to do it if there’s no value in it for them. So marketers simply need to find the point where the value gained outweighs the effort involved.