Geography is an immensely important tool in the modern business environment. Doing business globally was the first wave of the globalised economy, and the widespread use of internet-based services and e-commerce only accelerated and solidified the notion. The next wave came with mobility in the form of location-based services. Today everyone can create location-based tools that span the globe, and many companies do, but in my view this is akin to a car manufacturer producing a single model for Chinese farmers and European urban commuters alike. Hyperlocality, the concept that each location is worthy of particular attention, that it has unique characteristics and inherent value impossible to tap by going ‘global’ is slowly becoming a major trend. In 2009, while bootstrapping AthensBook, ThessBook and GEO|ADS it was our only choice.
For us geography is everything. We didn’t start global or even regional. We started local, paying attention to the needs of the people in Athens and Thessaloniki and expanded our featureset accordingly; with limited resources and funding. The importance of understanding geography is amplified when your geographic realm is a city, as opposed to a country or region. When we launched GEO|ADS in early 2009, the business world didn’t really know what to do with it. Even today, mobile advertising is still in the process of coming up with standards, conceptual or technical, the world is trying to understand how to use it, how to extract value from it. With GEO|ADS we were the first platform to provide meaningful, consistent high-resolution spatial analytics to our customers in 2009 for Athens and Thessaloniki. We always thought this was a fundamental point where we could contribute valuable, differentiated feedback, compared to the Web or traditional media.
Our spatial analytics reports have long been generated largely automatically as kml files, a de facto XML-based standard that originated alongside Keyhole’s Earth Viewer. Keyhole was a company funded by In-Q-Tel, CIA’s venture capital appendage, and focused on a single (publicly offered) product, the Earth Viewer. The application was very much ahead of its time and it was only through the acquisition of the company by Google in 2004 that turned it into a product enjoyed by the masses: Google Earth. Choosing KML was an easy decision for us, as the format is open and the output usable by everyone — Google Earth is free and infinitely more accessible, usable and engaging than your average GIS application. It is also deeply interactive, as users can zoom, pan and rotate around regions of interest extremely quickly, allowing business development managers and marketers choose locations for campaigns, expansion, targeting more easily and quickly than it would have been possible otherwise. Being XML based meant that we could write a relatively short Python script and leverage all the amazing facilities KML and Google Earth provide.
Welcome Google! About a year since we first came up, designed and implemented Geo|Ads, Google just launched their own Location Based Advertising in the States.
We always knew we were tiny. Some thought we had interesting ideas. At least now we know that they are not exactly bad from a business point of view either =)
Great stuff. Perhaps I should start looking at the Pre as one of the candidate platforms for the Geo|Ads platform and the apps it is currently featured on. Since AthensBook 1.0.0 came out in early March we’ve been focusing on way too many things and looking at what Palm has to one of them — besides registering for the early SDK access back in April, there were few reasons to focus on the Pre: it is only available stateside for now, and we’re already focusing on providing current releases of our apps and ad SDK on iPhone/Android and Blackberry.
Still, with Android still featuring a decade-old UI and no devices not being available in Hellas in any sort of mainstream way yet [soon that's bound to change of course] and with the BlackBerry OS seeming increasingly dated, perhaps the Pre should be getting some more developer love from us. If only we could get a device in this part of the world. =)