Garmin recently announced that they are offering free traffic feeds to their Nuvi 755T, 765T, 775T and 785T units via small ads that come up every now and then. When using the Nuvi 755T for my Full Review, I found them unobtrusive, and a natural fit to what I was doing or where I was going; it got me thinking about where this will all lead. If you hadn't noticed, the stocks of Garmin and TomTom are down about 70% and 80% YTD, respectively indicating that the markets aren't convinced that these businesses have the growth ahead of them that we have seen in recent years, where 100% year over year profit growth was possible. With margins being where they are, GPS manufacturers may only be making $20 on each low end device, which is not a lot when you consider the work that they are doing to get such a device to the market. The idea of ad supported GPS units may offer the residual income that so many businesses seek with their offerings from Tivos to razors and satellite radios. What's the potential for GPS?
Ad Supported FM-based Traffic Feeds - Quick Ad, POI Listing
These are here now, with the Garmin introductions. Previously costing users about $60+ a year Traffic feeds give you the ability to route around traffic problems is big. I have long thought that this is a huge need that is partially met by the current mix of data feeds and low bandwidth capabilities of the FM-based TMC network (or MSN network). Broad swaths of generalized traffic trends allow good GPS units to help figure out the big problem spots. Big step up from the guy in the traffic copter. The ads are small (shown right - an ad from the Nuvi 755T) and when tapped connect you to a Points of Interest list of those stores or locations - pretty basic, but it's a start. Basic ads gives you $60 a year in value.
Intelligent Ads with Unique Offers - Daily Use
With the launch of the Dash Express this year, two way connected GPS units ushered in the wave of higher bandwidth more intelligent data feeds. With better bandwidth and better interactivity, a more intelligent ad network can be had too. Can you imagine the confluence of a few data feeds to drive targeted marketing: 1) "Home" location and zip code, 2) Frequent search topics on the GPS, 3) Current location, 4) Time of Day, and 5) Travel habit profiling - daily commuter vs. business traveler. With this information fed back to ad servers, highly targeted offers can be made, and thus be more lucrative for the GPS make
If you ever search for a coffee shop in the afternoons while on the road, why wouldn't Starbucks send you an ad when you are within a less than mile of their store with a coupon code for $1 off your Venti?
If you are a business traveler, why wouldn't restaurants start pushing ads for dinner when it's later in the day knowing that you always look for a place to eat when you are on the road?
When Target knows that you drive to their parking lot every other week, why wouldn't they send the latest announcement to entice you back and keep you as a loyal shopper?
The possibilities are either endless or scary depending on your sentiment, but this is all dependent on a two way exchange of data between a highly intelligent GPS, and a data crunching server somewhere. For this you'll need connected GPS. Better, more targeted ads could possibly cover the current $120+ per year annual fee for this cellular connected service. While you are at it, throw in free Map Updates once this model matures. Advanced Targeting, rich ads = Higher Value Freebies like a connected subscription and free map updates.
Interface, Interface, Interface
Like the rule of real estate where location is king, the interface rules the GPS world, and only a couple of makers are currently up to the task. I am pretty sure that Garmin worked hard to make sure that their initial offering with the Nuvi 755T and its siblings was very well thought out made to be not at all polarizing. The next step of bringing richer, more obtrusive and more informational ads will bring new challenges. With the maturation of the Web, and the serving of its ads (Think Google here), the idea of data crunching and serving up relevant ads seems like a small hurdle, it's striking that balance between obnoxious and unseen. We all hate pop-up ads on a web page, but we won't swerve off the road trying to "X" out of them while sitting at our computer desk; these can't be the norm on a GPS device. Advertisers won't pay to be unseen either. The true art will be knowing the consumer and knowing how to subtly bump them while not interfering with the navigation experience.
There are a lot of possibilities for rewards if ads are done right, and the potential to save the GPS companies from this recent slide, but ads need to be expertly integrated into the interface so that they are seamless and relevant. If they are, consumer, and businesses will benefit through better services and better offerings. Looks like a lot of fun ahead; I can't wait to see the possibilities.
In a report last week by the KC Biz Journal, Garmin let out that the coming models (Nuvi 265T, 265WT, 275T and the Nuvi 755T, 765T, 775T, 785T) will provide free traffic feeds for life. To facilitate this, the GPS units will be coming with ads; location relevant ads at that. It's all a part of the NAVTEQ traffic and interactive ad delivery service. "Ads for nearby businesses will appear along the bottom of the screen only when the vehicle has been stopped for at least 10 seconds." according to the KC Biz Journal.
NAVTEQ delivers advertising, along with the traffic content, over its RDS network. The advertising is designed to complement the drivers' experience and is contextually relevant. For example, a driver can click on an ad to view specific restaurant information and route to the restaurant's location.
Research indicates consumers accept and even expect advertising if there is a clear value exchange and if the advertising is relevant and unobtrusive. According to research commissioned by NAVTEQ and carried out by Ipsos Understanding UnLtd in early 2008, traffic information has the highest perceived value and the greatest impact on consumers of all dynamic content types including gas prices, parking information, movie listings and times, and flight status information.
"By providing customers like Garmin an advertising-based revenue model in conjunction with RDS traffic data delivery, we believe that more drivers will have access to the most up-to-date traffic information to better manage their daily commutes," commented John MacLeod, executive vice president for NAVTEQ. "Drivers benefit by receiving free traffic while offering advertisers a new location-targeted environment to engage consumers."
Inrix and Beat the Traffic came together to bring the broad coverage to TV news broadcasts. Inrix and their Smart Dust network are coming together in a new way to get a better view of the traffic at hand in a way that is familiar to GPS users.
"Millions of consumers rely on local broadcast TV traffic reports before they start their commutes," commented Kush Parikh, vice president of business development of INRIX. "We are thrilled to be partnering with Beat the Traffic - the clear leader in providing innovative, visually-striking 3D traffic reports to broadcast stations across the country - to provide customers with the most accurate traffic data possible to help ease their commutes."
Traffic.com has a lot of traffic capabilities to offer, and now you can go get your own traffic magnet for your site. The Magnet below is something that I can check before heading into work and see how bad the Jams are heading up into Boston. Traffic.com is a part of NAVTEQ, and they are making investments in traffic capabilities, and have expended their traffic collection streams and their fusion engine to blend and refine for better more accurate data.
Go ahead, check out their Traffic Magnet tool and create your own magnet with a custom size, look and content to suit your needs.
TomTom has launched their HD Traffic module in the Netherlands where they have users sharing their location in a network of GPS units acting as traffic probes; you help me and I help you. The FCC Site is showing the test results for the TomTom HD unit clearing the way for the module to be launched here. Usually by the time these are posted and publicly available, a launch is imminent. My hunch is an announcement soon with shipping for the holidays.
The TomTom HD Traffic Module is a cellular tranceiver that sends and receives traffic information so that you have the most up to date data available. Not only will it get information that is readily available to units with a TMC receiver, but it will also share the peer based information that other users of the TomTom HD system generate. So, if another user is stuck in a traffic jam up ahead, your unit will be aware of the jam and give you better route timing or routing options. This is similar to the Dash Express offering and how it works. Dash indicated that they needed about 2,000 units per metro area to get high quality coverage; I would imagine a similar number would be needed for TomTom also.
The TomTom HD module will be working on the GSM 850 and PCS 1900 bands and will most likely carry a monthly fee.
TrafficCast has extended their deal with Yahoo! to provide detailed traffic reporting to their maps that extends the coverage for secondary roads into many more metro areas. The better detail is provided by the DynaFlow fusion engine that captures data from not only road sensors but mobile phone data, GPS probes, weather events, and incident reports.
The capability can be seen below in a Yahoo! Maps shot this morning of the Boston Metro traffic situation not only on major highways (beltway around the city and the one main road up through the city), but the major surface roads or secondary roads that are also shown in criss-crossing the map. The status of all roads is shown in green-yellow-red according to the severity of the traffic. (Note: Recently Google added the red/black hashed markings to show really slow traffic.)
I sat down for a Question and Answer session with the CEO of TrafficCast, Connie Li. TrafficCast has developed an algorithm to aggregate not only traffic data but data impacting traffic, like weather and events. We all know that heavy traffic and accidents slow your drive, but so does rain and snow.
As we move forward, and more people have and use smart navigation devices, the ability to tie up all kinds of data into usable information streams will play a big part in our lives. TrafficCast is getting a jump on reliable traffic information gathering and on gathering all that other information too.
Well, it didn't take long to hear more news on a true navigation package coming to the new iPhone 3G after it's well publicized launch this past week. It seems that TeleNav is working on a new application for the iPhone that will give true Navigator functionality with turn-by-turn directions, visual cues and traffic alerts on the new faster iPhone with a true GPS chip.
The GPS-like applications currently in the iTunes Apps Store are no true navigation applications and the Google Maps interface on the iPhone is better at showing you what to do while walking and not driving down the road at 50 MPH.
Google Maps has recently updated its traffic flow representations to show not only the regular Red-Yellow-Green format, but a Red/Black hashing that shows super slow traffic at <10 MPH.
Can I get that on my GPS? Red goes up to 25MPH, and there is a huge difference between essentially stop and go at under 10 MPH and putting along at 25 MPH when you need to get home. One, I might try to plow through if it's short; the other I would avoid like the plague.
Note that Google also gets the predicted traffic looking at specific days and times.
Apisphere and Traffic Cast teamed up to continue to grow a robust offering of location aware living that will no doubt start to shape how we look at navigation and the role it plays in our lives.
Data/Environmental Awareness - Traffic is not the only thing to consider when we need to get somewhere, but it's the easy one to understand. Got to get to the airport, traffic is slow, leave early; easy to understand. Traffic Cast will be providing this pretty big component in this deal.
What about the fact that what you really need to get on the 5:15PM flight back home? There are a lot of things that impact that; traffic, time needed to return the rental car, the normal security line length, as well as the fact that your airplane is coming from Atlanta and they have thunderstorms going on there right now; your inbound plane is already 30 minutes late; delaying your flight..... All of this needs to be projected into the future. I don't want to keep checking this information for data right now; I need to know what time I need to leave the meeting this afternoon to hit the airport.