Geotagging is the process of adding geographical data to online content created either by individuals or big media. Usually it involves integrating a Google or Yahoo map into a site and allowing users to pinpoint where they reside. Sometimes it goes a step further by letting individuals "tag" the content with the locations where their articles, photos, videos or blogs were created. (To tag a piece of content means to add descriptive keywords to it that best describe its topic.)
Like anything created digitally these days, geotagging becomes incredibly more valuable when information from millions of individuals is aggregated into a single view. A great place to see this in action is Flickr (flickr.com/map), one of the world's largest photo-sharing sites and a division of Yahoo. A month ago Flickr launched a feature that lets users drag their photos onto a map and identify where they were shot. In just 30 days a staggering 4.1 million photos have been geotagged by the community.
Other sites that use geotagging are helping like-minded individuals who live in the same region find each other and even connect offline. Frappr (frappr.com), for example, has become a hit with bloggers and podcasters.
All of this is just the beginning. In the months ahead, geotagging will become part of virtually every website you can think of -- from consumer review sites to news, blog platforms, search engines and more. It will connect disparate online sites into solidified virtual networks all based on location data.
As geotagging becomes more popular, it will open up new avenues for advertisers. For example, a marketer who wants to target influencers in the Big Apple will, in the near future, be able to easily find the most influential bloggers in New York and buy ads across all of them.
Geotagging is not just about the little guy, either. Look for big media to adopt it too. Newspaper sites, for example, could plot out all their articles on maps and let advertisers make micro buys on pages that roll up the news on a single town.
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Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.