Hotstop is a map site with subway and bus directions in New York, Boston and Washington DC, but it brings some innovation to the table that pushes forward the public transportation and local advertising paradigm a few notches.
First, Hotstop gives you transfer information for public transit that you can put on your mobile phone, PDA or printout. So, enter a source and destination and you will have not only a great map, but the transfers you need to make to most effeciently arrive. You set the maximum distance you are willing to walk, the maximum number of buses and trains. Very cool. Google also has a pet project called Google Transit in Portland, and there’s every reason to believe they’re watching Hotstop closely. For tourists, one really nice feature is the “point to location on map”
The advertising initiative is the first time I’ve seen a map site actually put street-level ads on directions pages. So if you say you want to go somewhere on 5th Avenue, it may eventually suggest some places for lunch – perhaps with a coupon.
Innovation: Combine Windows Live Local and local advertising and you get a rather high octane mix of cool and targeted marketing. Take that to the cell phone, and you have context. This is where I see this going. Proximity marketing with visual clues, and ads delivered with content to your phone. I wrote about proximity ads a bit last year. We’ll see what happens!
Then, get some of the gamers involved and we can do live paid placement ad properties in urban games. These spaces are left blank by game developers and the properties are sold as placement ads in accurate virtual worlds. Think of it as digital billboards in a virtual world.
Other idea is to allow a pre-visit to a place you’re heading to. Scope out, via virtual reality, the area so you can get around better, and also explain to someone else where to go.