The Location-Based Future of Content
Twenty years ago, author Joe Pine introduced the concept of the “experience economy”—the next step in the transformation of consumer demand. Spending on experience-related services is growing fast—more than 1.5 times faster than overall personal consumption and nearly four times faster than expenditures on goods. This growth is driven by the ability of experiences to satisfy needs that simply can’t be met by other forms of entertainment. Consumers value moments and events in the real world that they can experience—rather than simply consume—and that they can share with friends and family, even after they have occurred.
This development represents a major challenge for businesses. Most online content today is designed simply to be consumed—i.e., it is devoid of the context that gives it a deeper meaning. Without knowing the location of users, or what their wider interests are, companies are left transmitting static information that has a limited impact and fails to fully nurture relationships with their markets.
The answer to this challenge is location-based content (LBC). LBC is a movement towards using technology to augment—rather than be—the experience. Many companies have already acted on it, such as Pokémon Go. Released in 2016, Pokémon Go crossed the 1 billion download threshold in March 2019 and is projected to earn nearly $800 million this year. Its success is more than the story of a clever fusion of gamification and LBC—by getting users off the couch and out of the house, the app helped people lose weight, get more fit and even reduce their dependence on medication. It showed that the screen need not be the enemy of engagement with the real world.
Location changes everything
In fact, the screen can enhance engagement with the real world. By providing content that is precisely tailored to specific places, LBC can leapfrog static delivery methods and furnish a deeper, richer experiences to users. For example, the German company Get Your Guide (the first unicorn in the $150 billion travel experience market) began life as a ticketing platform; yet now it is creating its own content, building on the huge success of its Instagram tour of Bali, which proved so popular that it became a 10-hour, 50-location tour and is one of the leading experiences on the site. Other companies have recognized the significance of LBC by investing in hardware solutions for delivering experiences: Bose released an augmented-reality (AR) audio headphone in 2018, and Snap, Facebook, and Google are all working on AR glasses that will rely on LBC.
The most immediately obvious application of LBC—for both users and providers—is to the world of guided tours: as a content provider, LBC is clearly superior to static websites, pamphlets, brochures and guidebooks, for reasons ranging from convenience (LBC is customizable to user interests) to respect for the environment (LBC doesn’t involve printing). Yet the potential of LBC goes well beyond the tourism industry. Creators of all types—actors, celebrities, historians, naturalists, photographers, authors, political junkies, craft beer makers, amateurs passionate about virtually any topic under the sun—are eager to offer their content as an on-demand, on-location experience. They represent the catalysts of a huge change in the way entertainment, travel and education can be delivered. And their engagement with LBC promises to transform the use of mobile technology, in a way that may help to define the fourth wave of the internet: the internet of you.
Written by Ethan Mayers
Ethan Mayers is a former television producer turned entrepreneur and a co-founder of On a Roam, a content management system for location-based content.