Jason Hogg, founder and former CEO of Revolution Money and a co-inventor of the technology behind American Express’ Serve and Bluebird services, has raised US$6.2m for Hangit, a location-based messaging platform that, he told NFC World+, aims to give small merchants “the same skills and capabilities a large retailer would have with their marketing platforms.”
The idea, Hogg explained, is to leapfrog existing technical approaches to provide a platform that delivers more targeted and contextual advertisements to consumers based on their location.
“From my standpoint, the two words that are critical are ‘contextual relevance’,” he said. “A lot of the current approach towards location-based services from a marketing standpoint is you’re in proximity of something and it just alerts you. From our standpoint, what we’ve done is we’ve created a platform that enables something called geo-conquest and it has greater relevance.
“Let’s say a person is pulling into the parking lot of Starbucks. Obviously, that consumer has intent, they’re going to Starbucks, they’re probably going to buy a cup of coffee. And so the platform enables other retailers and coffee shops — for example, it could be Sally’s Coffee Shop that’s two blocks away — to place an ad at a particular point in time.
“Sally’s may not have a problem getting customers from 6.30am to 9am but maybe from 9 to 11 it’s slow, so Sally’s can place an incentive between 9 and 11 in Starbucks’ parking lot so when the consumer pulls in, the consumer will get a push notification that says ‘are you going to Starbucks?’ and when they swipe their phone, it will say, ‘Sally’s Coffee is two blocks away’.
“In addition to that, one of the other things that’s built into our system which is unique is that we can show the efficacy of how the ad worked because then, when the consumer drives over to Sally’s Coffee Shop, they’ll cross through another geo-fence when they’re in the parking lot of Sally’s and it will say you’ve arrived at Sally’s, click here to get your coupon or whatever the incentive is.
“We can then show Sally that we took the consumer from Starbucks over to their location and also that the consumer redeemed the coupon and so that shows the efficacy of the programme also.
“It’s a cloud-based, open SaaS model, so they have their own account. They can set up multiple campaigns, so they can not only pick on a Starbucks that’s two blocks away, but they could also put an ad in front of a school when parents drop their children off to say ‘would you like to grab a cup of coffee with your friends after dropping the kids off?’
“There’s an entire campaign that they can put together with multiple locations and our system enables them to track each of the campaigns individually and also collectively and then also provide data and statistics with regards to the efficacy and success of the program so that they can better tune their advertising.”
“We are in the process of testing it right now. We’re going to open it through some key partnerships in December and then we will open it completely widely in January. The predominant funding is going into the development of the platform so that the merchants and consumers, our publishers and app developers, have the best possible initial release of our platform.
“I have a very strong payments background, I started Serve and Bluebird for American Express so from an expansion standpoint, this is a global platform. While we’re starting in the States, we will be expanding and it will be available on a global scale to provide this tool to merchants and small businesses everywhere.”