Citymaps Revamps Mobile App, Nabs Big Brands

Smartphone looks to hyper-personalize digital mapping

Citymaps, which debuted as a Web-based business tool a few years ago, is relaunching its iPhone app that will be tested by mobile advertisers ranging from fashion retailer Aeropostale to hospitality chain Bliss Spa to Vitamin Shoppe, among other brands.

The New York-based firm's revamped mapping technology is designed to be super social, letting on-the-go consumers see icons of local businesses and public places based on their interests exhibited on Facebook and Twitter—as long as they agree to share such information with the app.

Citymaps users can also "follow" each other in the social media sense, and the app can help them discover new places based on what their friends share. Similar to Foursquare and Instagram, they can add comments to their activities via the app. In addition, users can personalize the digital maps and share them via email, major social sites like Facebook and through text messages.

Advertisers are featured in users' discovery streams, and such brands' pages can pull in their marketing posts from Instagram, Facebook and other social channels. The ad units combine location, search and personalization elements that make them like a marriage of Facebook and Foursquare's promos.

"A key reason we are excited about Citymaps is that we don't view the experience as advertising, and we don't believe our customers will," said Katie Welch, vp of integrated marketing for Bliss Spa. "We view this as a service to help people find [our locations] and experience branded, useful content."

In addition to Bliss Spa and the other aforementioned retailers, the app's branded launch partners include Time Out, Stylecaster Media, Morgans Hotel Group, Gansevoort Hotel Group and Bond New York.

Citymaps CEO Elliot Cohen said his mobile map "covers 15 million locations throughout every city and town in the United States, and will expand internationally [later this year]."

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