This is the second in my series on mobile, and what’s getting me interested is this.
Whatever can save me time in seeing whether something is worth purchasing (and I’m one of those who think fewer and fewer products actually are) and save me money, I can become interested in, even if I start out lukewarm. As a woman, what matters most to me is to have appeals that I can confidently say are within reasonable range of my own needs and interests, and avoid the feeling of fatigue associated with extraneous, poorly targeted stuff. Location-based deals AND reviews/ratings, therefore, have the potential to make my decision-making easier.
So, up comes location-based advertising tied into reviews on my radar, things like FourSquare, YELP, Loopt, Google (local directory bar codes), Gowalla, and Merchant Circle. But so far, much of it feels extraneous — how much can I actually rely on these reviews, given the critical mass is not quite there? And for whom is location-based advertising useful when businesses can barrage you with what you don’t need or when your network produces more diversity than these groups? Of course, location-based anything has its own terrors; take a look at Please Rob Me for what I’m talking about here.
Trust can also be undermined in other ways. The report by the East Bay Express on YELP, a bit of time back, left many consumers feeling tricked. The allegation that businesses were put in the position of having to cozy up to YELP in order to be assured of positive reviews muddied Yelp’s reputation as a trusted source. Merchant’s Circle seems to have had issues with consumer preferences being ignored as well. The lesson: If you have a small business, what you definitely don’t want is to sully your own reputation by association and/or not understand a company’s built-in bias, preferences and terms.
Still, I believe it is better to give people space to course-correct than vilify questionable behavior interminably (I certainly don’t have first hand experience of YELP so I can only be wary). At any rate, it does send me down the path to explore issues in more depth on my own (I’ll keep you posted) and to encourage you to read the reviews below.
So, check out the following articles from those who can speak with more confidence, and my nod in support of those sources which can point me toward informed decision-making.