A year ago, Quick Response (QR) codes and location-based social networks as a means for social interaction were only shared in limited techie circles. During the summer of 2010 - however, based on augmented reality and geolocation becoming the latest and hottest tools in our social media toolbox, even one of the largest cities in the world is cozying up to this new technology.
QR codeDuring Internet Week 2010, when Manhattan hosted over 150 events over a seven day period, QR code technology was used so that tourists and New Yorkers could instantly access information about the conference by pointing their mobile cameras at buildings like the Thomson Reuters building in Time Square. While this technology has been widely used in Southeast Asia and Europe, it wasn't until this past June, that it gained traction in the States (see previous post, titled, "QR Codes Augmenting Our Lives From Tokyo to Manhattan").
Today, with the location-based social network space becoming very crowded, it was no surprise that two of the top contenders would go head on head with competing billboards. For locals and anyone visiting the Big Apple, a giant mural painted on the side of a twenty-story building at 34th & 8th was visible from many of Manhattan's top venues including Madison Square Garden.
The billboard features a photo of New Jersey Nets owner (and Russian billionaire recently profiled on 60 Minutes) Mikhail Prokhorov and Nets' minority owner (and hip-hop star) Jay-Z. However more importantly for the location-based users is the logo at the bottom of the billboard which prominently advertises Gowalla, and a free gift item for those that check-in at the location (see previous post, titled, "Gowalla & NJ Nets Score Upset Against Foursquare & NJ Knicks")
Not to be outdone, even if they didn't respond until two months later, Foursquare just checked in to Times Square with their own billboard. Claiming to have the largest 'digital' billboard in Times Square, Foursquare's ad towers over the American Eagles's Times Square retail store with a tagline that says, “Check in, find your friends, unlock your city.”
Tristan Walker, who heads up business development for Foursquare indicates that American Eagle owns the billboard, but would not disclose how the advertising deal was structured - only to hint that version 2 is in the works.
So while social media occupies our lives online, we now have visual markers in the real world to provide us with reinforcement messages. NYC, long-known for it's creative billboards over the last century continually re-invents itself and never makes us forget it's the city that never sleeps.
NYC Camel Cigarettes Billboards of the 1950s