At the F8 Facebook developer event many people expected the company to announce its long-awaited location feature. It didn’t happen. But, according to AdAge, location is imminent for Facebook and marketers are already on board:
Facebook is preparing to launch location-based status updates for its users. But the social network is also planning to offer it to marketers, including McDonald’s.
As early as this month, the social-networking site will give users the ability to post their location within a status update. McDonald’s, through digital agency Tribal DDB, Chicago, is building an app with Facebook would allow users to check in at one of its restaurants and have a featured product appear in the post, such as an Angus Quarter Pounder, say executives close to the deal.
The launch of the feature is complicated to some degree by Facebook’s existing PR problems over privacy. However, let’s assume that those subside. Furthermore, “checking in” is entirely “affirmative” and voluntary.
Beyond the check-in capability (and potential advertising angle) it’s not clear how location will manifest on Facebook (online or in mobile). But let’s assume that it will look something like this:
The AdAge article and others wonder aloud (as is now an almost perfunctory exercise) . . . is this a Foursquare or Gowalla “killer”? I would say no.
I look at the whole thing somewhat differently. I would see this as the potential mainstreaming of check-ins.
We’ll obviously have to wait and see what shows up later this month (apparently). But Facebook will likely broaden the market and help expose more people to LBS and check-ins. And the McDonald’s angle is very interesting.
Couponing, deals and mobile loyalty is becoming a huge area of mobile marketing and Facebook may further expand it.
In February, I wondered over at Internet2Go how long it would be before Facebook became a mobile ad network (with its 100 million active mobile users). This could be the beginning — and it could become more “effective” than anything Facebook is doing with display online.
Update: AdAge is further reporting that McDonald’s “will be one of many marketers in on the ground floor and will be integrated into the platform sometime after Facebook turns on the feature for consumers.” These “ground floor” marketers apparently have been “stymied by the lack of scale with services such as Foursquare, Loopt, Gowalla and MyTown” and are eager to get into the LBS game with Facebook’s greater reach and scale.
Over the past 24 hours there have been several posts about the relative sizes of Foursquare (1 million plus), MyTown (2 million) and Google Latitude (now apparently 3 million users). Google’s Steve Lee also “hinted” to the Web 2.0 crowd apparently that check-ins were on the way for Latitude.
All of this in the aggregate makes the check-in phenomenon a more mainstream part of the local-mobile experience.