Last week we asked you to send us your questions for our interview with wine connoisseur and social-media expert Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary and his consulting company VaynerMedia recently ran an experiment with the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and geolocation app Gowalla (in which Gary is an investor) to see if location services could draw fans to games with free tickets. For all parties involved, the experiment was deemed a success, and the findings from it have provided a unique insight into the future possibilities for geolocationtional advertising.

As you may recall, last Friday during the ReadWriteWeb Mobile Summit, we discussed the potential road-blocks for startups looking to innovate in the localized mobile ad space. By using an existing network like Gowalla, however, the Nets experiment actually succeeded to bring in a significant amount of people to a game where thousands of seats went unsold.

By using Gowalla to check-in at local gyms, parks and other locations where supposed basketball fans might frequent, 38 users found and redeemed 1 of 250 pairs of tickets made available for the game. 76 of 500 (15.2%) of the seats offered through the application were filled directly because of the mobile promotion – seats that would have otherwise been left empty. These patrons instead paid for parking, merchandise and other concessions at the arena that would have previously not been purchased.
VaynerMedia Case Study from Gowalla/Nets Experiment

One of the major conclusions Gary says was drawn from this experiment is that for the next few years, mobile advertisements are going to play a large role in how expiring inventory is sold. For the Nets, this inventory was tickets to the final home game of the season. For other businesses, this could mean the last batch of doughnuts that is thrown away at the end of a day, or unfilled hotel rooms and airplane seats.

But why only for the next few years? As Gary pointed out in our interview, soon enough, everyone is going to be using a service like Gowalla or Foursquare, and the novelty of the app combined with the emotional attachment of discovery will fade with time. The thing that separated this experiment from other promotions is that the people offered the tickets discovered them through their own actions, creating a sense of responsibility to redeem them. In the future, however, if everyone is using applications to find deals, the novelty of the game mechanics introduced could eventually dissipate.

One of the major conclusions Gary says was drawn from this experiment is that for the next few years, mobile advertisements are going to play a large role in how expiring inventory is sold.

A significant hurdles for mobile advertising is when a customer attempts to redeem a coupon only to be denied by an unknowing store clerk oblivious to the business’ mobile ad efforts. Gary says while this is a problem due to the relatively new nature of geolocation apps, only medium-sized businesses have to really worry about it. Small businesses with one or two locations and a handful of employees can easily spread the word of such a promotion, but a company with a half dozen locations across a metro area may have more difficulty. Unfortunately, this represents the majority of U.S. businesses.

Examples taken from Twitter showed that the promotion with Gowalla and the Nets was well received by fans and helped to create new relationships between the team and its fans. One happy father even Tweeted about how his six-year-old son called the experience “the best day of my life, ever.” Clearly the integration of social media into a mobile ad promotion has helped to uncover some fascinating results about consumers.

We also took the opportunity to ask Gary some of your questions about anything and everything, including managing work and family, following your passion, selling wine and – of course – his favorite football team, the New York Jets. Here’s what Gary had to say.

Pete asked, “How do you maintain your ‘Crush It’ attitude and continue on the path to success while following the rule of family comes first?”

Gary: Super hard. No question, by far my biggest challenge. I think it’s understanding the players. And what I mean by that is, just paying attention to what my wife feels […] It’s communication and making smart choices. Always filtering. The same things that excite me about the Internet – filtering and restrictions – are the same things for life, I just have to keep filtering.

Renee wanted to know, “How do you overcome the fear of leaving a routine life to follow your passion?”

Gary: For me, it was the fear of living a routine life. I think about legacy a lot, I’m a very big picture kind of thinker, so not taking chances and not being happy along the way just seems so insane to me. I’m very aware that everyone is wired differently, I’m nothing special. I’m just me. What I’d like for people to do is embrace more of the “try to be me” more than somebody else. I envy people that can sit down on a project and focus on it for ten years, […] but now that I’ve built that cushion, and that base, nothing wants me to do that. I want to scratch all of my itches – advise, consult, speak, author, do a show.

Jason, a wine entrepreneur looking to use social media to be disruptive in the Scandinavian market, asked what Gary thinks of the idea and if he had any tips.

Gary: I love the idea. My biggest tip is to keep your mind open to not just the wines you like. Don’t control it, let the pieces fall where they are, and make sure you hit as many demographics as possible. Don’t make it polarizing. Think about as many different niche markets as possible and don’t just talk at social media events, go to wine clubs and wine bars. Try to get as many people to embrace it as you can.

And finally, Andrew asked Gary, “What do you think of the New York Jets’ Fight Song?”

Gary: I bleed green. If I can like Jason Taylor, who was a former Dolphin and now he’s a Jet that I hated every day of my life for the last decade plus, then I love everything about the Jets.

Disclosure: The author of this post is a Patriots fan, but that in no way affected his interview with Gary, a diehard Jets fan.

chris cameron

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