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Papa John’s, Starbucks power location-based augmented reality app

September 29, 2009

Point me to pizza

Point me to pizza

Papa John’s and Starbucks are advertising on GeoVector Corp.’s World Surfer application on the iPhone and Android platforms.

The application lets users point their phones in a particular direction to search for restaurants, retail outlets and other locations. Users can click the Papa John’s or Starbucks channel and interact with the brand on several levels including obtaining Google search results, a guide to the closest location, coupons or other offers and a click-to-call fuction. 

“Prior to launch, we carefully planned what we wanted to accomplish,” said Pam Kerwin, vice president of business development at GeoVector, San Francisco. “The technology is so diverse that there were a million things we could have done.

“As our user base grows, GeoVector World Surfer becomes a more attractive vehicle for marketers,” she said. “Likewise, as we add new content from sponsors and other providers, the World Surfer experience becomes even better for the user.”

GeoVector is a developer of augmented reality capabilities for mobile devices. The company’s geospatial search engine technology powers augmented reality applications and attaches mobile Web services to any object or location.

Ms. Kerwin said GeoVector narrowed down three specific plans for the new application.

The company said it wanted to create a new and useful experience for end users and fill a need for marketers and ad agencies that want to reach smartphone users. It also sought to create an open environment where third-party content providers can offer content and applications based on GeoVector’s point-based technology.

After locating a point of interest, application users can visit the location’s Web site, get reviews, click to call, check for pictures or videos, search Google, see the location on a map and be guided there using an interactive arrow.
Content channels for World Surfer include Google, Microsoft Bing, Yahoo Local, Wikipedia, Papa John’s pizza restaurants and a Starbucks coffee tracker. 

Users can use the Starbucks channel in the World Surfer to search for the closest location, look for Flickr images taken at the retail location or receive special offers from the coffee brand.

On the Papa John’s channel users are given the full functionality the other clickable retail channels receive including a store locator and guided directions to the closest location.

Ms. Kerwin said many users simply open the application and use its click-to-call function to place their orders for pizza.

Papa John’s and Starbucks are no stranger to the mobile platform.

Last year Papa John’s generated more than $1 million in mobile sales (see story). 

Also, coffee giant Starbucks recently launched two iPhone applications, one featuring 2D bar codes (see story).

GeoVector’s open platform supports third-party plug-in content channels, as well as providing API documentation to developers.
Ms. Kerwin said the company is targeting smartphone users who are comfortable using their phones for communication, research, entertainment and shopping.

The application protects the user from local spam and provides information and offers only requested by the user, something Ms. Kerwin said makes the application attractive to both users and mobile marketers.

“Our service can not only present the consumer with the information marketers want to deliver, but then we can guide them to the front door,” Ms. Kerwin said. “World Surfer offers a … Guide Me arrow that consumers can use like a divining rod to find a retailer.”

GeoVector claims World Surfer is an ideal way to deliver location-aware marketing campaigns. World Surfer users can request promotional offers exactly when they are ready to buy.

Ms. Kerwin said user-requested offers are regarded as a convenience rather than an annoyance. This is important when marketers are delivering their message on a device as personal as a mobile phone.

With its technology, GeoVector can attach any type of data to a place on Earth or via latitude and longitude coordinates.

“So, when a consumer points the phone to search for something he wants, he can access just about anything that can be turned into digital data and accessed via a Web URL: a menu, a coupon, an image or a video,” Ms. Kerwin said. “Users can even point at a billboard to visit the sponsor’s Web site or to see a movie trailer. 

“We’re very excited about the new world we’re opening up for mobile marketers,” she said. “The industry is also moving towards augmented reality.

“From an advertiser’s point of view, we can hang virtual promotional billboards over stores or bridges, create games where users hunt for clues in the sky, see movie scenes projected on the very spot where they were filmed.”

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Chirs Harnick is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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