|United States Patent Application
;   et al.
January 27, 2011
METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR DISTRIBUTING TARGETED ADVERTISING AND INTUITIVE
The present invention is a method for displaying messaging, wayfinding
and advertising on interactive kiosks and digital wireless communication
devices including handheld portable devices within a Wireless Local Area
Network (WLAN) or through the Internet. The information is stored in
databases connected to the Internet that include maps of shopping centers
or malls, data regarding user profiles, product categories and product
brands which provide users the ability to search the database and
interact with the maps and point-of-purchase advertising. When
proximity-based WLAN access is available, the data is merged with more
data concerning the user's relative position within the network.
Muster; Scott; (Houston, TX)
; Bay, JR.; William V.; (Katy, TX)
; Mills; Jesse; (Houston, TX)
HULSEY IP INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAWYERS, P.C.
919 Congress Avenue, Suite 919
July 22, 2010|
|Current U.S. Class:
|Class at Publication:
|Current CPC Class:
||G06Q 30/00 20130101; G06Q 30/0261 20130101|
||G06Q 30/00 20060101 G06Q030/00|
1. A method and system as disclosed above.
2. A method for distributing targeted advertising and intuitive
wayfinding, the method comprising the steps of: gathering information
about one or more retailers, said information stored on a tangible
computer readable medium and including at least one of: the location of
each said retailer relative to other said retailers; and/or at least two
locations within said retailer; permitting said retailer to provide
advertisements, said advertisements associated with one or more of said
retailers and stored on said tangible computer readable medium; locating
a customer and providing said advertisements to said customer when said
customer is within a preset distance from said associated retailer.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
 This application claims the priority of U.S. Provisional
application Ser. No. 61/227,477, filed on Jul. 22, 2009, and entitled
"METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR DISTRIBUTING TARGETED ADVERTISING AND INTUITIVE
WAYFINDING." Said application incorporated herein for all purposes and in
 This invention generally relates to advertising and specifically to
the delivery and distribution of highly targeted point-of-purchase
advertising and wayfinding.
DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART
 The advertising industry is facing a radical transformation--one
that many participants are under-prepared for in terms of its
technological and cultural impact. The transformation is moving
relatively quickly but will take many years to reach the next level.
Print advertising is declining, digital advertising is increasing.
Advertisers need to focus their efforts on three screens: the computer,
the TV and the portable device.
 Demographic changes (Baby Boomers opposed to Gen X and Y), the
accelerating pace of change and the adoption rate of technology are three
of the big drivers behind this transformation. Other drivers include what
advertisers need from their advertising--more performance (targeting),
efficiency, convenience, flexibility, accountability and scalability.
 The cultural impact includes the way we shop and interact with
advertising. To many, shopping has been considered a recreational
activity in which a shopper visits a variety of stores interacting with
the shopping community that includes store personnel and other shoppers.
Point of purchase advertising targeted at window shoppers consists of
signage and messaging--how well it works is subject to speculation. In
fact, typical advertising has very few, if any metrics to support claim
to ROI (Return on Investment).
 To some, shopping is a task of inconvenience and vexation. Big
shopping centers and malls intimidate some shoppers because of the time
involved and the unknowns regarding where a particular store or brand is
located. Knowing where to park and how to find the store or a brand of
products would enhance the shopping experience and lessen the anxiety.
 Online shopping has been rising at a rate that threatens the
existence of shopping centers and brick-and-mortar stores. Many malls are
on the brink of bankruptcy. Online shopping is perceived to be efficient;
however, when shipping costs and returns are factored in, efficiency is
greatly diminished. Online shopping has two powerful weaknesses: no
immediate gratification and the lack of community.
 As with the advertising industry, the communication industry is
facing a similar transformation of its own where users are increasingly
accessing the Internet, wide-area networks (WANs) and local area networks
(LANs) with devices such as personal computers (PCs), personal digital
assistants (PDAs), portable digital media players and mobile phones.
Portable devices, in particular, are growing in capabilities and
popularity. Various venues, protocols and techniques are used with all of
 With all of the networks available, users generally have good
connectivity and the ability to interact with digital media in almost any
part of North America and the World. Retail establishments and public
areas are increasingly making WLANs available for the purpose of
interacting with users to conduct marketing/advertising activities and
ecommerce in some form. Potential increases in sales and the benefits of
performance advertising are very attractive outcomes for retailers and
operators of malls and shopping centers who leverage the transformations
that are happening in advertising and communication technologies.
 Therefore, there are powerful driving forces and competition to
provide customizable, wireless services that operate within these
networks. Advertising targeted messaging to the physical location of the
user while they are in the vicinity of the retail establishment is
potentially the most powerful sales incentive, however, not all of the
user's devices have that capability, so a fully integrated, multi-level
system needs to be designed to address today's needs and
state-of-technology--this is a significant engineering challenge.
 Existing mall/retail point-of-purchase advertising methods employ
"shotgun" style ads, meaning they are broad and not targeted to an
individual shopper's needs or desires. These methods are also "push"
advertising, meaning they intrude upon a shopper's attention without
providing an incentive for the shopper's consideration. No one has
deployed a successful method of targeted "pull" advertising which allows
a shopper to shape the advertising they see and provides an incentive for
viewing the advertising.
 In addition, much of existing advertising delivery hardware (such
as printed or digital signage) is singular in function so they can
require more floor space to deploy. This uses valuable mallway real
estate that could be leased to retail vendors.
 Other methods to integrate technology into brick and mortar
shopping centers essentially turn the process into online shopping with
instant product delivery. These methods ignore the fact the majority of
mall shoppers consider the physical aspect of shopping an enjoyable and
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The following description is not to be taken in a limiting sense,
but is made for the purpose of describing the general principles of the
present disclosure. The scope of the present disclosure should be
determined with reference to the claims.
 The present invention is a high-value business methodology whereby
shoppers are provided useful services such as store directories, maps,
and/or wayfinding in conjunction with targeted point-of-purchase
advertising. The system can deliver both "push" and "pull" advertising.
It is a comprehensive and integrated system that consolidates hardware
usage and allows shopping centers or malls to deploy the system in tiers
depending upon their budgets.
 FIG. 1a--Interactive Kiosks/Digital Signage--Shoppers without
portable devices 12 and those with some disabilities will be able to use
the kiosks. Positioned throughout the mall, the stationary interactive
kiosks 14 use touchscreen technology to interact with users and provide
search, wayfinding and advertising 16. Metrics on searches and
advertising are available to the advertisers. When not being used as
directories, the kiosks double as digital signage for additional mall
advertisements and community building.
 FIG. 1b--Portable Device with Internet access--Mall directories are
available to users from a website with search, mapping and advertising
capabilities 26, 34. Advertisers are provided sophisticated metrics.
Users can access the information via the portable device's mobile web
browser 24 or a dedicated application 32 written for that device's
operating system (OS). The native application may utilize additional
features supported by the particular portable device's OS 36. Internet
access can be through a cellular/mobile phone service provider 28, 30,
LAN/WAN access 20, 22 or any other means that a device may use to browse
 FIG. 1c--Portable Device using an Installed Proximity WLAN
System--A Proximity based WLAN 42 such as the Cisco Wireless Location
Appliance installed in the mall provides proximity data about shoppers
with Wi-Fi capable portable devices 40 (location of the user relative to
each store in the mall) and enhances the user's experience with
interactivity, wayfinding and point-of-purchase advertising 48, 52 that
can be tailored to the user's personal profile. Utilizing a proximity
based WLAN, a mall or shopping center can be a predefined service region
and may be sub-divided into a number of physically or logically defined
sub-regions that correspond to individual retail locations. Metrics
available through this application can be extensive and powerful
providing personal profiles and buying tendencies. Users can access the
information via the portable device's mobile web browser 46 or through a
dedicated application written for that portable device's OS 50. The
native application may utilize additional features supported by the
particular device's OS 54.
 The system delivers two categories of content:
 "Search based Content" is context sensitive and essentially "pull"
advertising. Mall Directory, Map, and Advertising are pulled to the user
based upon the subject matter of user's search query. For example, a
search for shoes or a particular shoe store will return context sensitive
Ads for shoes, not power tools.
 "Proximity based Content" is location sensitive and essentially
"push" advertising. Mall Directory, Map, and Advertising are pushed out
to the user's location within the mall when a proximity-based WLAN is in
place. In addition to proximity information, the Ad results can also be
refined by contextual information (Search based Content) and the User
Feedback system discussed later. These interactions turn the proximity
based content into "pull" advertising.
 The integrated system blends online and traditional shopping;
simultaneously enhancing the shopper's experience with community,
wayfinding and immediate gratification. Additionally, the system improves
the effectiveness of storekeeper's point-of-purchase (POP) advertising
and provides valuable data that can be analyzed for more precise ROI and
 The tiered format as described above combined with advertising
auctions and micropayment pricing schedules similar to Google, provides
the mall operator and the advertisers flexibility and scalability by
providing the opportunity to optimize their budget, the user/shopper
profile/demographics and local state-of-technology. No shopper is left
out of the equation, with or without WIFI connectivity.
 The mall operator also has access to a new revenue stream from
advertising profit-sharing programs. The cost of installing the
invention's technology will be offset by advertising revenue, thereby,
eliminating or dramatically reducing the resistance to adopting this new
technology and advertising channel. The scalability of the system can
include integrating digital signage and office directories with mall
directories and the advertising system (in a mixed use property).
Furthermore, a security system can be added including video cameras, an
integrated alert messaging system, and shopper traffic data to provide
 The invention provides value to stakeholders by providing content
as the result of the invention's search functionality in the form of mall
maps and wayfinding. Integrating the advertising with valuable content
will alleviate some of the concerns about "too many ads".
 Loyalty programs may be included as part of the invention as well,
providing user rewards for shopping through the invention's system.
Customer loyalty is the result of well-managed customer retention
programs; customers who are targeted by a retention program demonstrate
higher loyalty to a business. In addition, the customer loyalty program
will provide personal profiles and shopping trends to the advertisers;
valuable data that will translate into more precise market insights and
better, more targeted performance advertising.
 Consumer profiles gathered through the communication devices and
stored in databases may be used in a variety of ways including the
identification of favored retail locations, customized user interfaces,
purchasing interests and trends, and search words that will lead to
better targeting of performance advertising while enhancing the user's
 This summary is provided to introduce the invention's features and
capabilities. The concepts are further described in the Detailed
Description section. These and other aspects of the disclosed subject
matter, as well as additional novel features, will be apparent from the
description provided herein. The intent of this summary is not to be a
comprehensive description of the claimed subject matter, but rather to
provide a short overview of some of the subject matter's functionality.
Other systems, methods, features and advantages here provided will become
apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following
FIGUREs and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional
systems, methods, features and advantages that are included within this
description, be within the scope of the claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DRAWINGS
 The present subject matter will now be described in detail with
reference to the drawings, which are provided as illustrative examples of
the subject matter so as to better enable those skilled in the art to
practice the subject matter. Notably, the figures and examples are not
meant to limit the scope of the present subject matter to a single
embodiment, but other embodiments are possible by way of interchange of
some or all of the described or illustrated elements and, further,
 FIGS. 1a, 1b and 1c show, respectively, Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3
of the tiered methods to access the network depending upon the hardware
available to the user and consequently the type of information that can
be provided to the user.
 FIG. 1d shows a key for the graphics utilized for all of the
 FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary computing system and related
peripherals that may be used in conjunction with the disclosed subject
 FIG. 3 illustrates a process flow for a kiosk to deliver self
promotion and advertising messages when not currently being engaged for
searches and queries in one embodiment of the disclosed subject matter.
 FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c illustrate a process flow for a user using a
kiosk in one embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 5 illustrates a process flow for the feedback process of the
disclosed subject matter.
 FIGS. 6a, 6b and 6c illustrate a process flow for a portable device
user who has connected to the network using a mobile phone provider when
no wireless LAN or proximity-based wireless LAN is available in one
embodiment of the disclosed subject matter.
 FIGS. 7a, 7b, 7c and 7d illustrate a process flow for a typical
user experience with a portable device but without proximity based WLAN
in one embodiment of the disclosed subject matter.
 FIG. 8 illustrates a process flow for the shopping cart feature in
one embodiment of the disclosed subject matter.
 FIG. 9 illustrates a typical user experience with a portable device
an proximity based WLAN in one embodiment of the disclosed subject
 FIGS. 10a, 10b, 10c and 10d illustrate a process flow for a
portable device user in conjunction with a proximity based WLAN in one
embodiment of the disclosed subject matter.
 FIG. 11 illustrates the general system architecture of the
disclosed subject matter.
 FIG. 12 illustrates a flow diagram of the ad management system of
in one embodiment of the disclosed subject matter.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 In the present specification, an embodiment showing a singular
component should not be considered limiting. Rather, the subject matter
encompasses other embodiments including a plurality of the same
component, and vice-versa, unless explicitly stated otherwise herein.
Moreover, applicants do not intend for any term in the specification or
claims to be ascribed an uncommon or special meaning unless explicitly
set forth as such. Further, the present subject matter encompasses
present and future known equivalents to the known components referred to
herein by way of illustration.
 Throughout this disclosure the words "shopper" and "user" describe
the customer and/or user and are used interchangeably unless the context
clearly indicates a different meaning. Additionally, unless the context
clearly indicates a different meaning, handheld portable device and
portable device are intended to include, but are not limited to, cell
phones, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), MDAs (Mobile Digital
Assistants, smart phones, netbooks, tablet PCs, tablet devices,
multi-touch devices, etc., and the two words are used interchangeably
throughout the disclosure. Broadcast Ad generally means a large, full
screen ad that can be pushed out while certain features are loading.
Sponsor Ad generally means thumbnail ads that are a part of the search
process. Detail Ad--more robust ads that are a part of the search
process. Transactional data may include one or more maps, directions,
coupons with barcode that can be read at register, and/or any other
details needed by the shopper or the retailer to complete a transaction.
The words Ad and advertisements are used interchangeably through out the
 With reference to FIG. 2, an exemplary system within a computing
environment for implementing the invention includes a general purpose
computing device in the form of a computing system 200, commercially
available from Intel, IBM, AMD, Motorola, Cyrix and others. Components of
the computing system 202 may include, but are not limited to, a
processing unit 204, a system memory 206, and a system bus 236 that
couples various system components including the system memory to the
processing unit 204. The system bus 236 may be any of several types of
bus structures including a memory bus or memory controller, a peripheral
bus, and a local bus using any of a variety of bus architectures.
 Computing system 200 typically includes a variety of computer
readable media. Computer readable media can be any available media that
can be accessed by the computing system 200 and includes both volatile
and nonvolatile media, and removable and non-removable media. By way of
example, and not limitation, computer readable media may comprise
computer storage media and communication media. Computer storage media
includes volatile and nonvolatile, removable and non-removable media
implemented in any method or technology for storage of information such
as computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or
 Computer memory includes, but is not limited to, RAM, ROM, EEPROM,
flash memory or other memory technology, CD-ROM, digital versatile disks
(DVD) or other optical disk storage, magnetic cassettes, magnetic tape,
magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other
medium which can be used to store the desired information and which can
be accessed by the computing system 200.
 The system memory 206 includes computer storage media in the form
of volatile and/or nonvolatile memory such as read only memory (ROM) 210
and random access memory (RAM) 212. A basic input/output system 214
(BIOS), containing the basic routines that help to transfer information
between elements within computing system 200, such as during start-up, is
typically stored in ROM 210. RAM 212 typically contains data and/or
program modules that are immediately accessible to and/or presently being
operated on by processing unit 204. By way of example, and not
limitation, an operating system 216, application programs 220, other
program modules 220 and program data 222 are shown.
 Computing system 200 may also include other
removable/non-removable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media. By
way of example only, a hard disk drive 224 that reads from or writes to
non-removable, nonvolatile magnetic media, a magnetic disk drive 226 that
reads from or writes to a removable, nonvolatile magnetic disk 228, and
an optical disk drive 230 that reads from or writes to a removable,
nonvolatile optical disk 232 such as a CD ROM or other optical media
could be employed to store the invention of the present embodiment. Other
removable/non-removable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media that
can be used in the exemplary operating environment include, but are not
limited to, magnetic tape cassettes, flash memory cards, digital
versatile disks, digital video tape, solid state RAM, solid state ROM,
and the like. The hard disk drive 224 is typically connected to the
system bus 236 through a non-removable memory interface such as interface
234, and magnetic disk drive 226 and optical disk drive 230 are typically
connected to the system bus 236 by a removable memory interface, such as
 The drives and their associated computer storage media, discussed
above, provide storage of computer readable instructions, data
structures, program modules and other data for the computing system 200.
For example, hard disk drive 224 is illustrated as storing operating
system 268, application programs 270, other program modules 272 and
program data 274. Note that these components can either be the same as or
different from operating system 216, application programs 220, other
program modules 220, and program data 222. Operating system 268,
application programs 270, other program modules 272, and program data 274
are given different numbers hereto illustrates that, at a minimum, they
are different copies.
 A user may enter commands and information into the computing system
200 through input devices such as a tablet, or electronic digitizer, 240,
a microphone 242, a keyboard 244, and pointing device 246, commonly
referred to as a mouse, trackball, or touch pad. These and other input
devices are often connected to the processing unit 204 through a user
input interface 248 that is coupled to the system bus 208, but may be
connected by other interface and bus structures, such as a parallel port,
game port or a universal serial bus (USB).
 A monitor 250 or other type of display device is also connected to
the system bus 208 via an interface, such as a video interface 252. The
monitor 250 may also be integrated with a touch-screen panel or the like.
Note that the monitor and/or touch screen panel can be physically coupled
to a housing in which the computing system 200 is incorporated, such as
in a tablet-type personal computer. In addition, computers such as the
computing system 200 may also include other peripheral output devices
such as speakers 254 and printer 256, which may be connected through an
output peripheral interface 258 or the like.
 Computing system 200 may operate in a networked environment using
logical connections to one or more remote computers, such as a remote
computing system 260. The remote computing system 260 may be a personal
computer, a server, a router, a network PC, a peer device or other common
network node, and typically includes many or all of the elements
described above relative to the computing system 200, although only a
memory storage device 262 has been illustrated. The logical connections
depicted include a local area network (LAN) 264 connecting through
network interface 276 and a wide area network (WAN) 266 connecting via
modem 278, but may also include other networks. Such networking
environments are commonplace in offices, enterprise-wide computer
networks, intranets and the Internet.
 The central processor operating pursuant to operating system
software such as IBM OS/2.RTM., Linux.RTM., UNIX.RTM., Microsoft
Windows.RTM., Apple Mac OSX.RTM. and other commercially available
operating systems provides functionality for the services provided by the
present invention. The operating system or systems may reside at a
central location or distributed locations (i.e., mirrored or standalone).
 Software programs or modules instruct the operating systems to
perform tasks such as, but not limited to, facilitating client requests,
system maintenance, security, data storage, data backup, data mining,
document/report generation and algorithms. The provided functionality may
be embodied directly in hardware, in a software module executed by a
processor or in any combination of the two.
 Furthermore, software operations may be executed, in part or
wholly, by one or more servers or a client's system, via hardware,
software module or any combination of the two. A software module (program
or executable) may reside in RAM memory, flash memory, ROM memory, EPROM
memory, EEPROM memory, registers, hard disk, a removable disk, a CD-ROM,
DVD, optical disk or any other form of storage medium known in the art.
An exemplary storage medium is coupled to the processor such that the
processor can read information from, and write information to, the
storage medium. In the alternative, the storage medium may be integral to
the processor. The processor and the storage medium may also reside in an
application specific integrated circuit (ASIC). The bus may be an optical
or conventional bus operating pursuant to various protocols that are well
known in the art.
 Data shared and/or used in the various embodiments can also be
shared and/or used via a traditional web site or to populate a web site
(or other medium). This allows information already assembled in one or
more of the other embodiments to be repurposed and thereby raise the
value of the disclosed subject matter.
Tier 1--Interactive Kiosks/Digital Signage Application:
 Digital Signage
 As illustrated in FIG. 3, Self-promotion 362 of the directory runs
on the kiosk while the program is not engaged by a user 360. Example
messaging: "Looking for something? Find it here!", "Can't find the store
you're looking for? Touch the screen!"
 Directory kiosks will also double as digital signage 362 when not
doing self promotion, thereby consolidating mall directory hardware and
 Digital signage Ads can be any medium (video, animation, graphic
still) that can be supported by the hardware.
 Engaging the Kiosk
 A shopper just has to touch the screen 366 to bring up the mall
directory interface 368. Proximity sensors can also be used to activate
the directory when a user is near 364. To accommodate handicap/wheelchair
shoppers, either multiple kiosks could be employed at different heights
or a handicap button could be implemented that would move all of the Ads
to the lower portion of the screen for easier access.
 Referring to FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c, the mall directory and map are
central to the system's functionality and will provide intuitive guidance
to find a store's location in the mall. Searches can be conducted in four
categories: brand, store names, category of merchandise, individual
product. The search process:  The user chooses what they are
looking for from the possible selections 382 and the screen changes to
reflect the selection.  Brand 386--The stores where that brand is
located are listed/highlighted. Stores that are participating in the
Sponsor Ad campaign also have a thumbnail ad appear that includes store
branding.  Categories of merchandise 388--Multiple stores are
listed/highlighted. Stores that are participating in the Sponsor Ad
campaign also have a thumbnail ad appear that includes store branding.
 Store names 390--The store location is highlighted. Stores that
are participating in the Sponsor Ad campaign also have a thumbnail ad
appear that includes store branding.  Products 392--An interactive
touchscreen or keyboard is activated. As the user enters each letter, a
list of potential search results is revealed on the screen. In an
alternative embodiment, a traditional keyboard/mouse may be used. 
Alternatively a user may navigate to a large screen version of the mall
map 384, with traditional/familiar electronic map navigation controls
394.  When the technology is available for practical widespread
deployment, voice recognition, multi-touch tables/screens, or motion
controls that can sense motion without requiring touching, may be used.
 "Search based Content"--Context sensitive Directory, Map, and
Advertising results are returned 396.  "Wayfinding"--Select a
listed/highlighted store and a wayfinding map and directions are provided
400. The output is similar to the "driving directions" on mapping
programs such as Google.RTM. (a registered trademark of Google, Inc.)
Maps or MapQuest.RTM. (a registered trademark of MapQuest.com, Inc.)--an
arrow on the mall map shows the route to the store's location from the
kiosk location along with simple directions. Additionally, the user would
be able to get a printed list of the directions and/or a map graphically
depicting the directions 430. The user can perform a new search 402, 404
if the results are not satisfactory.  Choose a Sponsor Ad 406 and
the kiosk transforms to a larger, more robust Detail Ad 408 which can
include brand messaging, imagery and details on exclusive offerings. The
shopper can make a number of choices 410:  The shopper can
immediately return 416, 418 to the previous search results 398 if they do
not like the Detail Ad.  The shopper can immediately select the
Detail Ad 420 and print all the Transactional data 428 associated with
the search.  Or the user can review 414 any of the Transactional
data 422 for that offer if they want more information.  When the
user is done searching 426, the kiosk can print all the associated
Transactional data 428. Even if the user did not respond to an Ad, an
advertiser can elect to have a promotional coupon printed on the
wayfinding map and directions.  The transactional data bar code can
be used at the register 432 to complete the sale. From there the shopper
can continue shopping 436, 434 or leave happy 438.  Feedback 412,
424--Referring to FIG. 5, at many points during the search process,
feedback 450 can be provided on one or more types of Ads:  "Like"
452--If the user likes the Ad then the visitor's session profile will be
updated 456 to show more applicable ads on other queries. 
"Dislike" 454--If the user dislikes the Ad then it will be immediately
replaced with a more applicable Ad 458 if one is available.  When
leaving feedback, the user interface may not need to change at all, but
regardless the user is always returned to the place where he/she started
460.  The feedback data will be cleared when a user prints any
transactional data, or after a certain amount of time to allow for new
 Kiosk metrics provided to advertisers include, but are not be
limited to:  How many times a store comes up in search results.
 How many times users chose Sponsor Ads and which Ads are chosen.
 How many times users chose Detail Ads and which Ads are chosen.
 How many coupons were printed (Transactional data). Data on Coupon
bar codes can be merged with a store's transaction data for precise
analysis on ROI and trending.  Conversion rate on an Ad series:
Sponsor Ad->Detail Ad->Transactional data to determine campaign
effectiveness.  Search terms (keywords) used.  Activity
trends such as hours of the day, day of the week, etc.  Activity
levels of the kiosks. Tier 2--Portable Device with Internet Access
 Engaging the System
 FIGS. 6a, 6b and 6c show how the user can engage the system. The
user 480 launches a dedicated application (APP) if available 484. A
dedicated APP 492 will be used for enhancing the user interface as
opposed to the mobile browser version. Or the user launches the portable
device's web browser and goes to the website 486. When accessing the
website with a mobile browser, the user may be prompted 488 to download a
dedicated APP for their portable device if one is available 490. If an
APP is not available 496 or the user decides not to download it 494, they
can proceed using the mobile browser version 496.
 Whether the shopper is using the mobile browser version or a
dedicated APP, the look up process will follow: The APP 498 will check
for available open WiFi networks 500 and proximity-based WiFi Networks
504. If no proximity-based WiFi network is available, the invention will
use a local WiFi connection or default to the mobile device provider's
Internet service 502. If a proximity-based WLAN is in place, the user
will be prompted to load the directory/map for that mall 510.
 If the user declines to load the mall from a proximity-based WLAN
or there is not proximity-based WLAN available 506, GPS equipped portable
devices will locate the user and present a list of malls in the area 512.
If the GPS list does not present the user desired results, or if GPS is
not available, the user can perform a traditional location search 508, by
entering a zip code 518 or other pertinent geographical information and
retrieve a list of malls in the area.
 Alternately 514, the user can input a direct URL 520. As a user
approaches the mall entrance, advertising/signage on doorways will prompt
users to go to a website URL specific for that Mall 520.
 After using any of the methods to find the mall of their choice,
the user will make a selection 522, 524 and the mall's information will
load 526. A Broadcast Ad comes on the screen while the directory and map
 FIGS. 7a, 7b, 7c and 7d show a typical user experience. The mall
directory and map function are similar to the kiosk interface but
optimized for mobile delivery. Searches can be conducted in the same
categories and search based content will be returned just as with the
kiosk. The shopper will also interact with Ads similar to the kiosk.
Items previously discussed with reference to FIGS. 4a-4c (for Tier 1
access) will not be rediscussed even though they may appear in FIGS.
 The differences with the Tier 2 level of access are:  Turn
by turn directions cannot be provided unless a point of origin is known;
therefore, the system may employ signage or store numbers or even store
name look up to allow shoppers to plot a point of origin to a point of
destination.  If no point of origin information is available, the
mall maps can be displayed and centered on the desired store's location.
The output is similar to looking up a single location on mapping programs
such as Google.RTM. Maps or MapQuest.RTM.--a marker on the map shows the
store's location with navigation controls allowing the user to move the
map around and zoom in/out.  Upon loading a mall, the user can do
nothing 546 or use the map functionality previously described 384. 
Feedback--The feedback process covered in FIG. 5 will function like the
kiosk except that information will not be cleared after a time period.
The feedback data will be stored in the user's profile 456 and used for
shaping the Ads received in the future.  "Save for Later" or "Save
Ad to Shopping Cart"--Tier 2 and Tier 3 will provide "shopping cart"
functionality to allow portable device shoppers to save Ads for later
use/recall. During the search process, users can opt to store Ad
information 580, while they perform other searches. As shown in FIG. 8,
the user can recall these Ads easily 630 when they are completing their
purchase in order to take advantage of the offer 652. For example, if the
offer is a coupon, the bar code for the Ad's promotional offer can be
displayed to make redemption easier. At any point in the process a user
can pull up their shopping cart and perform a number of functions 632.
 Review existing stored Ads 634 and decide 646 if they want to keep
646 or delete 644 them.  Review all the details 648 associated with
an Ad via its transactional data 636. The user can also decide 646 if
they want to keep 646 or delete 644 Ads at the transactional detail level
as well.  Select an Ad and retrieve its bar coded coupon for a
purchase 652 or plot directions to that store 650.  Provide
feedback on the ad 640, 424.  Return to wherever the user was
before viewing their shopping cart 642.  Upon completion of a
sales transaction 436, the user may plot wayfinding to their next
purchase 650. Referring back to FIGS. 9a-9d, the user may also leave
happy 438 or continue shopping by performing more searches 404 or by
retrieving the shopping cart 610 and plotting wayfinding to their next
 Broadcast Ad--Mobile devices may also display Broadcast Ads as the
mall directory/map is initially loading.
 Portable device--Sponsor Ads, Detail Ads and Transactional data
will function like their kiosk counterparts.
 Portable device metrics provided to advertisers can include the
same metrics as the kiosks with the addition of: Activity levels and
types of electronic portable devices.
Tier 3--Portable Device with Mall's Proximity WLAN
 Engaging the System
 A mobile user can select and load the Mall's directory and maps on
their portable device using the previous methods discussed in Tier 2
access. But, when a Mall has a proximity based WLAN in place, the process
can be even simpler. The mobile browser APP or the dedicated APP can
detect the Mall's WLAN 504 and ask the user if they want to join 510.
 Joining the proximity WLAN not only provides the user faster access
to information, it also allows Proximity based Content to be delivered to
the portable device in addition to the Search based Content. Also,
Wayfinding information, like an indoor GPS, can be provided to the user
for "turn-by-turn" navigation through the mall.
 As shown in FIG. 9 with the Proximity based Content, as the shopper
782 walks the mall, the APP begins to receive Sponsor Ads 786, 788 to the
user's portable device 784 and alert the user with a vibration or other
type of alert. As previously discussed, the shopper can review the Detail
Ads 790 and have all the search, feedback, and shopping cart
functionality at their disposal with the addition of proximity based
 As shown in FIGS. 10a, 10b, 10c and 10d, the user experience with
searching, Ad interaction, feedback, Ad shopping cart will be the same as
a Tier 2 Portable device but with the additional functionality provided
by the proximity based WLAN. Items previously discussed with reference to
FIGS. 7a-7d for Tier 2 access will not be rediscussed even though they
may appear in FIGS. 10a-10d.
 The user can perform no searches 546 or 688 and simply use the
service to provide a reference point for where they are in the mall--a
constantly updated "you are here."
 "Proximity based Content"--Location based Ads 702, 722 and Map are
pushed to the portable device as the user moves through the mall.
 "Wayfinding" instead of "Mapping"--There is no need for determining
a "point of origin" as in Tier 2 in order to get wayfinding directions.
All maps will be location sensitive 698. Clicking a listed/highlighted
store and a wayfinding map and directions are provided. The output is
like the "driving directions" on mapping programs such as Google.RTM.
Maps or MapQuest.RTM.--an arrow points on the mall map shows the way
route to the store's location from the user's present location along with
simple directions. The map and directions are updated as the user moves
through the mall.
 Additionally, in an alternative embodiment, users could use the
proximity based LAN to locate each other. For example, if everyone in a
group has a mobile device, they could link their accounts/devices to
easily locate each other. This could be especially helpful for parents
shopping with kids. In yet another embodiment, parents could receive
alerts if their children's devices are detected leaving the mall before
the parents leave.
 Portable device Ads behave the same way with the exception that
Proximity based Ads are pushed to the mobile device as the user moves
through the mall.
 Portable device metrics provided to advertisers include but are not
limited to the same metrics as listed in the Tier 2 access: The presence
of a Proximity based WLAN can provide additional metrics that include but
are not be limited to:  Mall traffic flow of those with Wi-Fi
enabled portable devices  Time shoppers spend in stores. 
Time shoppers spend in stores when using Ads from the system.
 As shown in FIG. 11, the system architecture is specifically
designed to be simple. Advertisers 810 and system administrators 812 will
log in to the website 814 and manage campaigns across multiple malls from
their account. Ads, content for the campaigns, maps and directory data
818, 820 will be pushed to the malls 824, 826 of their choice and those
malls will provide metrics back to the website for the advertiser and
system administrators to review. Additionally, the Mall metrics may be
tied into the advertiser's current web metrics system.
 Each individual mall 824, 826 will have a network built using
standard industry practices that are best for that particular mall's
needs whether they have a Tier 1 installation with just kiosks 832 or
Tier 3 with kiosks and a proximity-based WLAN 828, 832. Whenever
possible, advertising, directory, and maps will be pushed from within the
mall's LAN to ensure the fastest delivery (because of increased
bandwidth). Portable device users, such as those on Tier 2, who are not
on a mall's proximity-based WLAN and are accessing the system via their
mobile provider's Internet service, will pull their data from the
website. If they are on a non-proximity based WLAN then an effort will be
made to pull all media from the local LAN rather than the website.
 The website will use standard web-based practices and be designed
to evolve with emerging web technologies. The Ads will support standard
communication mediums chosen and optimized for the particular content's
bandwidth needs. This includes text, graphics, audio and/or video, and/or
Flash animation. As Web delivery technologies evolve, different mediums
may be integrated.
 More advanced or larger advertisers may use an API (Application
Programming Interface) for integrating existing internal register and
transaction recording systems with the mall advertisement system to track
entire purchase cycles from advertising to coupons redeemed at the
Ad Management and Approval
 As shown in FIG. 12, the Ad management system 852, which allows
advertisers 850 to manage their campaigns and receive metrics. The Ad
management system can also employ an approval process for the Ad content
if the conditions warrant.
 To ensure the most timely and efficient management process,
advertising content may be broken into two areas: text based content 856
and graphical/visual content 854. Text in ads can be automatically
filtered for appropriate content 860. It is preferred that any graphical
or visual elements be reviewed by system administrators for appropriate
content until technology is available for automation of this step 858.
When graphical content is approved 864 it will be available for the
advertiser to push to the various mall locations 868.
 This two-part system will allow advertisers to constantly change
text based portions of messaging while using graphics/visual content that
have already been approved.
 In addition to the foregoing embodiments, any or all of the
information assimilated and gathered above, could be used to populate one
or more websites to provide the client with a more traditional website.
By leveraging the information already gathered, the overall value to the
client is significantly increased because the client/mall/retail location
does not need to engage a separate company to re-gather information and
create a traditional website. This provides yet another advantage to the
client/mall/retail location by lowering cost and time to market.
 The detailed description set forth above in connection with the
appended drawings is intended as a description of exemplary embodiments
in which the presently disclosed subject matter can be practiced. The
detailed description includes specific details for providing a thorough
understanding of the presently disclosed subject matter. However, it will
be apparent to those skilled in the art that the presently disclosed
process may be practiced without these specific details. In some
instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in block diagram
form in order to avoid obscuring the concepts of the presently disclosed
 It is to be further understood, therefore, that numerous changes in
the details of the embodiments of the disclosed subject matter and
additional embodiments will be apparent to, and may be made by, persons
of ordinary skill in the art having reference to this description. It is
contemplated that all such changes and additional embodiments are within
the spirit and true scope of this disclosed subject matter as may be
 The foregoing description of the preferred embodiments is provided
to enable any person skilled in the art to make or use the claimed
subject matter. Various modifications to these embodiments will be
readily apparent to those skilled in the art, and the generic principles
defined herein may be applied to other embodiments without the use of the
innovative faculty. Thus, the subject matter is not intended to be
limited to the embodiments shown herein but is to be accorded the widest
scope consistent with the principles and novel features disclosed herein.
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