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How hyper-local data could change the internet as we know it

We’re used to Google search, maps and other services knowing our location at all times, but what happens when those details get even more specific?

Enter the world of hyper-local data. Hyper-local data focuses on extremely focused subsections of your city, rather than the city or even just the neighborhood. It can help you form insights based on individual blocks, or at individual addresses, and it's about to revolutionize the internet as it exists for both consumers and business owners.

Hyper-local data is the next logical step after local data. It’s becoming easier to gather and easier to analyze thanks in part to the diversity of devices now embedded with GPS functionality and strengthening infrastructure capable of supporting big data campaigns. So what changes should we come to expect?

Hyper-Local SEO

One of the most interesting opportunities for hyper-local data is the expansion and improvement of local search engine optimization (SEO). Currently, businesses can rely on local SEO to improve their search rankings in local searches—focusing on keyword terms based on their city, state, or in some cases, neighborhood. Businesses can buy by the citation, building their offsite presence, and create content specific to their geographic location.

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An attendee types on the keyboard of a Key2 smartphone on display at the BlackBerry Ltd. stand on the opening day of the MWC Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. At the wireless industry’s biggest conference, over 100,000 people are set to see the latest innovations in smartphones, artificial intelligence devices and autonomous drones exhibited by more than 2,400 companies. Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

Hyper-local data would force businesses to think even more locally. It would no longer be enough to focus on a city or a section of a state. Instead, they would need to focus on smaller, more specific local areas, targeting customers in their immediate vicinity. Ultimately, it would give local business owners more opportunities to market their business with less competition.

Dynamic Conditional Updates

If you use Google Maps or a similar map, you might already be used to semi-live updates about traffic conditions. The methods used to capture these conditions are complex, since they incorporate both historical data and location tracking services from the cars on the road, but they represent a field of dynamic updates that could be incredibly refined by hyper-local data.

As a simple example, traffic conditions could be more accessible, updated even faster and more consistently. They could also take a meta-analysis into account, updating themselves as drivers respond to initial traffic conditions and start taking alternative routes.

The Next Level of Targeted Ads

Of course, targeted advertisements will also stand to benefit from hyper-local data. If you’re using a mobile device as you travel, or while sitting at a café, local services could intentionally serve you ads based on your surroundings.

As a simple example, your café could offer you unique coupons while you’re enjoying a cup of their coffee. As a more complex example, you could be served an advertisement that aligns or interacts with your surroundings. Your entire online experience could change based on your current surroundings, and feasibly, where you habitually spend your time.

Better Retail Metrics

Retail stores, restaurants, and other businesses that rely on physical storefronts and foot traffic can strongly benefit from hyper-local data. With the right devices and setups, they can track not only when and how customers emerge in the store, but how they engage with displays, how long they spend in the store, and what they eventually purchase. This detailed picture of customer behavior grants far more insights than simpler setups (like tracking via a customer loyalty card), and could lead to a much more appealing customer experience.

New Devices

In response to hyper-local data developments, we’ll likely see the emergence of new devices, meant to facilitate better user interactions with the real world. Wearable devices, meant to be used on the go, could be ideal for this purpose—even though smart devices like Google Glass and the Apple Watch failed to meet the lofty expectations that were set for them.

Google, Amazon, and Apple have invested heavily in smart speakers, making them available for home consumers in an effort to gather more data on their home behaviors. It’s reasonable to expect a different fleet of devices meant to gather data when consumers are on the go.

Toward a Universal Internet?

Similarly, we might see a bigger push toward free, universal internet. While local businesses like cafes and fast food restaurants are already offering free Wi-Fi, we might see it emerge in retail stores and other locations. When your customers are constantly connected to a network you control, you can gather even more data from them—and use that data to improve their overall experience (while increasing profitability for yourself).

Hyper-local data is already here, and if you’re a business owner, it’s in your best interest to take advantage of it. Otherwise, if you’re a consumer, get ready for your relationship with the internet—and with the businesses in your neighborhood—to change for the better, and soon.

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