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Newspapers: The Original Location Based Service.

Posted by Dan Vigil on October 22, 2010

For over 400 years newspapers have been providing location based information and services to consumers and businesses. What other entity provides door-to-door delivery of a tangible and unique location based product every day?

While local print subscriber bases may have eroded, online traffic is still on the rise. On mobile devices, news is one of the top-three content categories consumed according to comScore. For the past few years newspapers have been struggling to come up with new business models but some are starting to gain traction by embracing LBS on mobile devices. While we’re sure to see more innovation from newspapers as the tablet war heats up, the following three location-based engagement models are helping newspapers drive new audience and revenue.

1.       Location Based Crowd Sourcing: Local newspapers are taking advantage of mobile technologies to allow community members to report live news and information. Apps like Snap Scouts on the Android, for example, allow community members to participate in crime prevention by putting them on patrol in their neighborhoods earning points for “seeing , snapping, and sending” in anonymous crime info. The Los Angeles Newspaper Group has recently launched its SoCal Prep Sports iPhone and iPad app with the goal of sourcing photos, scores and live updates from audiences at high school sporting events.

2.        Location Based Editorial: Local newspapers are sitting on a treasure chest of detailed content about their communities. When mobile users “check in” to a location as they are so fond of doing these days, local newspapers can serve up editorial content about the location, historical photos, stories and reviews will enhance the users experience.. The Metro, Canada’s leading free daily newspaper has done this by partnering with Foursquare to add their location-specific editorial content to locations on the service. There’s even a Foursquare badge that users can unlock by checking in to a single-copy location. Newspapers can augment a location by adding context to the user experience with interesting content they have in archives.

3.       Location Based Contests: The Boston Globe has teamed up with SCVNGR a sophisticated mobile scavenger hunt and check in service to launch The Boston Globe Trek. This location-based contest encourages users to explore their city and learn more about local attractions by snapping photos and scanning QR codes at various locations across the city. They’ve issued a series of theme based challenges like romance, movies, sports and tech to engage new audiences.

By leveraging their strong brands, content and local sales resources with emerging mobile technologies, newspapers are in a great position to capitalize on location based services. They are still the best source for location based information, and emerging technologies can help them stay there.

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