The recent popularity surrounding geo social networks, or the concept of using ones physical location to interact with others, is quickly proving to be a valuable medium for mobile advertisers.
While location-based marketing and advertising is really nothing new, the innovative approaches conceived by the likes of Gowalla, Foursquare and other geo-based mobile social networks will undoubtedly usher in an entirely new form of highly relevant and personalized mobile advertising.
The idea of “checking-in,” made popular by Foursquare, is already a hit with consumers. With apps installed on your mobile device, you can check-in anywhere you frequent and let those around you know where you’re at (if you allow it of course). Checking-in a lot at the same place will give you various honors such as becoming the “mayor” of that location.
The underlying benefit for geo social networks such as Foursquare is the mounds of location-data streaming into the platform at all times. Local businesses are quickly taking note and offering discounts and other benefits to users who check-in or become mayors of their restaurant or coffee house, for example. When users, with their mobile device and geo social-apps in tow, come in proximity to a certain businesses- various ads, offers and other promotions can automatically be sent to encourage that user to enter the business.
The concept of geo-triggered mobile advertising and marketing has long been available from various ad-networks and other big-players in the marketing ecosystem, but adding the immense popularity of social networks, and particularly mobile social networks, gives a huge boost to the concept.
Foursquare is encouraging local businesses to reward patrons for checking-in frequently or becoming a mayor or deputy mayor, by offering various benefits, coupons and other rewards. “Foursquare says you’ve been here 10x? That’s a free drink for you,” and “Foursquare has deemed you the mayor (aka you’ve been here more than any other user)? Enjoy this free order of french fries.” are common offers being introduced by businesses embracing the new concept.
Venues are even advertising their integration with Foursquare and other geo social networks via Twitter, signs at registers and even sidewalk chalk-boards. Foursquare places heavy emphasis on calling attention to venues who offer special treatment to Foursquare users. “If a foursquare user is at your bar/restaurant, we’ll tell them what they have to do to unlock a free snack or discounted drink,” for example. “If they happen to be across the street or two blocks away from your venue, we’ll let them know that your business gives special treatment to foursquare users and that they should swing by for a visit.”
It’s an innovative approach to monetizing social networking via mobile and one that will surely garner a lot of attention in the near future. It should be an interesting segment to watch closely and anyone involved in mobile advertising and marketing should quickly take note, especially local businesses who yearn to become active in the mobile marketing ecosystem.