Flitsmeister: exploiting consumer data creation


Flitsmeister is a perfect example of an application that exploits data to gain benefit, exposure and make traffic more efficient. Flitsmeister is a free application for your mobile device that warns you when you’re approaching for instance a speed camera or traffic jam. Flitsmeister is a Dutch mobile application and founded in 2009. Although the application is not that new, Flitsmeister is becoming better and better in exploiting the consumer generated data. Therefore, I will describe how Flitsmeister does that, and what business models are making Flitsmeister possible.

Generating data

More than 800.000 drivers in the Netherlands and Belgium activate Flitsmeister when they start driving. By doing so, they get informed. On the other hand, those drivers inform Flitsmeister about their location. Besides, users inform Flitsmeister whether a speed camera new, still there, or removed. By doing so, consumer create significant value for the company and can be called ‘’working consumer’’ (Cova & Dalli, 2009), although they are might not aware of that. Flitsmeister enhances the data generated by consumers with information from Rijkswaterstaat and cameras along the highway. Based on the combination of that information, Flitsmeister is able to calculate, real-time and very specific, the location of traffic jams, (portable) speed cameras, construction work, accidents and emergency vehicles (i.e. ambulances).

FM screenshot

Business model

Flitsmeister provides its application for free and makes money by exploiting data. Flitsmeister does that in several ways. First, Flitsmeister provides its traffic jam information to radio stations in exchange for exposure on the radio. Thereby, Flitsmeister expands their reach and attract more users, without spending money. Second, Flitsmeister has become an advertisement platform that base advertisements on GPS location. For instance, Flitsmeister users get a free cup of coffee at a gas station that they will pass, if they refuel their gasoline. Third, the detailed data of Flitsmeister helps businesses and Rijkswaterstaat to avoid bottlenecks and improve the road network in the Netherlands. These first three revenue streams are all somehow related to a two-sided market. On the one hand, consumers are generating value through providing data, and on the other hand, radio stations, advertisers and Rijkswaterstaat are using the data to provide additional value to their customers. In this scenario, Flitsmeister is the platform provider and experience significant network effects. Moreover, there are both same-side network effects and cross-side network effects. Finally, although the app is free, consumers can buy in-app products, such as 1 year subscription which removes the advertisements and provides additional features for €8,99. This is referred to as a freemium business model, that differentiates based on features (Pujol, 2010).

Flitsmeister recently launched a special website for the Tesla Model S; tesla.flitsmeister.nl. This website is specially made for the 17 inch screen in the Model S (which is always connected to the internet via 3G), allowing users to operate Flitsmeister even without a phone. This might unveil future business models; integrate Flitsmeister in cars for a fee.

What I’m trying to show is not limited to Flitsmeister. It’s the evidence that data is very vulnerable and that business models can be combined to create a very solid and profitable way of earning money. Flitsmeister is just a very good example to illustrate that point.

Sources

Cova, B. & Dalli, D., 2009. Working consumers: the next step in marketing theory?. Marketing Theory, 9(3), pp. 315-339.

Pujol, N., 2010. Freemium: attributes of an emerging business model. Available at SSRN 1718663.

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