Loki is a toolbar/technology from Skyhook Wireless that, once downloaded, uses WiFi triangulation to determine user location and saves the step of having to enter it on visited websites. It has very interesting local search uses and implications (for those who partner). For example:
Beyond making local search more usable, the most interesting implication of Loki is what Ted Morgan, CEO of Skyhook Wireless, calls “location pull.” For example, if a retailer like Target tapped into this technology (assuming it’s installed on a user’s device) then, reading user location, Target could automatically offer a locally customized version of its site for that individual, including deals, the weekly circular, etc. Online newspapers, rather than asking for registrations, could offer a “national” or a “local” version of their sites accordingly. And clearly search engine (and potentially display) advertising would benefit from the greater location precision.
Check out my slightly longer write-up at Search Engine Watch. Here’s my original post on Loki when it launched in April.
I forget whether Skyhook is offering to private-label Loki (or distribute the technology; they have an API). Assuming yes, I would imagine that every local search engine/vendor would be all over Loki to embed the location-sensing technology in their toolbars or build a white-label version for themselves.
Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm focused on online consumer and advertiser behavior and the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local marketplace.