What if content, like antique jewelry, could bring value with age? The concept was touched on at the paidContent Mobile: Leveraging the Smartphone Boom conference in New York this week. Dennis Crowley, Foursquare's founder, and Michael Zimbalist, vice president of research and development operations at The New York Times, discussed the possibility of publishers dipping into their archives to pull out content that could be repackaged and even monetized for mobile devices.
One way could be through geolocation services. We've seen several publishers, including the Times and Time Out New York, experiment with using Foursquare as a distribution partner ― but it's still the beginning days. Crowley said there are a couple of people at Foursquare whose job is to focus on reaching out to blogs, magazines and newspapers to get them to put that archive of content on Foursquare.
Foursquare wants to help publishers turn lengthy content into bite-sized nuggets to surface at opportune times. For instance, Crowley said Foursquare can bring to life information normally discarded, such as magazine restaurant reviews, by condensing the review into a tip delivered when a consumer visits the restaurant.
Zimbalist said every object has “information shadows” that can be conjured at different times on different devices. He said it might be speculative, but there's potential to track and even be compensated for that content.
"It is entirely possible that there will be new sources of value unlocked from content archives, which will be become part of the business model that will sustain content businesses in mobile channels,” he said.
Though Crowley admits geolocation is still in the “1.0” days, he said the technology presents opportunities for more targeted, localized ad opportunities. Foursquare, for example, could use location data to help local merchants target their customers or prospects more effectively, answering questions such as: "These used to be your best customers and they are going somewhere else — do you want to target them in some way?," or, "Based upon the profiling we're doing, these are probably going to be your best customers — do you want to hit that set in a different way?"
"We're getting a lot smarter with it the more we think about it and the more local merchants we interact with,” he said.
Zimbalist said Crowley is onto something pretty significant, even if it's just a glimmer of the many models yet to be discovered or experimented with. “We all have struggled with the local ad dollars and how to provide value at that level of very specific locations, because there's that conundrum that the narrower the target geography, the smaller the reach."
The possibility of tapping into "all the local ad dollars, all the direct marketing dollars and all the direct mail dollars that are highly targeted to specific people in specific places through a platform and a technology like FourSquare," he said, is "extremely promising."