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Tribune Media Services opens movie showtimes content to app developers

Entertainment information provider Tribune Media Services is letting mobile application developers using the Placecast MatchAPI to integrate movie showtimes and theater locations into their offerings.

As a result, mobile device users running these applications will have access to movie schedule information available for nearby theaters. TMS is featured in the newly launched Placecast MatchAPI Partner Gallery, a free resource that connects companies with geo-content with developers building location-based applications. 

“MatchAPI is about connecting content to places,” said Alistair Goodman, CEO of Placecast, San Francisco. “There are a lot of issues that make that hard, such as siloed content databases, duplications in the data and general complications in attaching any piece of geo-content to a specific, unambiguous place.

“But if you can make that match, you connect all kinds of really interesting content—place info, reviews, UGC, pictures—to the wide array of mobile applications that are exploding in various app stores,” he said. “Our goal with MatchAPI is to reduce the friction in the system that prevents that from happening.

“Tribune is a marquee content company and our partnership is a great example of connecting great content companies with mobile app developers.”

TMS is a source of entertainment navigation and movie schedules, providing showtimes for 71,000 screens in more than 13,000 theaters across the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and Latin America. 

The company also produces, the Web site that connects 7 million entertainment fanatics to TV shows, celebrities, movies, events and other fans.

Placecast is a location-based platform specifically designed to use digital marketing on mobile to drive consumers into physical environments.

Brands such as the North Face, Sonic and American Eagle have tapped Placecast’s ShopAlerts service for location-based mobile marketing (see story).

Mobile location-based services, content
TMS’s objective behind the partnership with Placecast is to make it easy for developers to add TMS showtimes to their applications and distribute its location-based content to the entire mobile content ecosystem.

Since the launch three months ago of the Placecast MatchAPI, a free set of tools for developers to manage location data, more than 350 companies have signed up to use the service. 

“Our first step was to introduce the tools necessary to clean up data and then to help connect content from various sources to a place,” Mr. Goodman said. “The next step is to make it easy for developers to find the content they need.

“Application developers are hungry for value-added content to improve their applications and content providers want to be found,” he said. “Through MatchAPI’s Content Gallery, a developer can find content that has already been matched, allowing them to integrate it quickly into their app.

“We have launched with some great partners like Tribune and expect that community to grow fast as we move ahead.”

The Placecast Match API is designed to resolve the two biggest problems of working with large location-based data sets.

First, it disambiguates addresses, identifying that all of the different ways to express the address of a location do in fact refer to the same place on the planet.

Second, it maps all the relevant IDs from different content providers to that same place on the planet, so that it is always referred to correctly by any other system, according to Placecast.

MatchAPI is aimed at resolving the problem of correcting location data so that companies can focus on improving their services and attracting marketing support.  

The system has already been pressure-tested for scale: The functionality has been in place for more than a year and Placecast claims it has already processed millions of location records worldwide.

With the MatchAPI, Placecast has opened these tools up for free to the ecosystem to help reduce the friction involved in monetizing location-based services.

Other partners in the MatchAPI portal include WCities, a database of authoritative travel and event content, Urban Mapping, a provider of detailed datasets about mass transit, parking and routing, Buzzd, a provider of up-to-the-minute ratings of restaurants, nightlife and venues, and Socialight, a provider of local content and community applications combining user-created and branded location-based content for brands.

“Placecast’s MatchAPI addresses two fundamental issues,” Mr. Goodman said. “First, it enables them to keep their venue information correct and up to date.

“Second, it enables them to make their content available to mobile app developers,” he said.

Final take
Dan Butcher, Mobile Commerce  Daily