Editor's Picks, October 12-16, 2009

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I’ve got just one pick for this week, but it’s a significant one. Urbanspoon announced the release of an app for the iPhone that helps people find restaurants they will like. Big deal, right? Well, unlike most similar apps, this one works using AR – augmented reality. Late on a Friday may not be the best time to be thinking about augmented reality, but it’s a concept that search marketers need to become familiar with and begin thinking about involving in campaigns.

Up until now, most AR apps haven’t been hugely commercial in nature. Augmented reality map-based applications work with your cell phone to pick up compass/GPS type readings and provide specific info about locations pinpointed. For example, you could point your phone’s camera at a famous building and Wikipedia’s entry about that building appears next to it on the screen. Or you can use it to geo-tag places with a variety of information that others can later access. But Urbanspoon’s entry into the field ups the ante for search marketers. If they haven’t already, they now need to think about how to impact the content that appears on a consumer’s iPhone screen as augmented reality.

For example, a user may point their phone’s camera at two adjoining restaurants to find out which one people prefer (Urbanspoon’s focus), or what recent reviews have said, or perhaps even see what’s on special for dinner. Another application is the housing market. Available apps allow you to stroll down the street and have your phone identify which houses are for sale and provide the details of each one (sale price, realtor contact info, interior photos, even a link to click to call the realtor). With all that super-relevant info literally at hand, the consumer winds up more informed, and also more susceptible to on-the-spot purchasing decisions, and perhaps more likely to repeat a purchase in the future.

Visualizing oneself actually interacting with a product is an important part of the buying cycle, and augmented reality brings the product one step closer to enable decisions. In the process, your phone winds up becoming a search engine in a different kind of way. Lots of exciting stuff coming up in this part of reality.

About the Author

Frances Krug has worked in market research since graduating from UCLA with an MA and CPhil in Latin American history. As an editor and online content provider for the last 7 years, she currently is Associate Editor at iNET Interactive, where she also directs Search Marketing Standard's email marketing program.

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2 Comments

  1. Frances: Interesting post. Where would the APP get the listing data on the homes that are for sale on a given street?

  2. Hi Rob ... I would think that app developers in the real estate field would start to work on relationships with the big sites online (multiple listings, etc) in order to hook into their databases. Eventually our smartphone will scan the area as we walk down the street bringing up info on possible restaurants for lunch, historic sites, book stores, etc. depending upon what it already knows are your like and dislikes.