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McDonald's to Be First Location-based Marketer on Facebook: Report

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McDonald’s (s MCD) will be the first marketer to use Facebook’s forthcoming location platform, according to Advertising Age. Users will be given the ability to check in at a location using a status update on Facebook as early as this month, AdAge reports, and then see a featured product targeted to that location. McDonald’s will reportedly be the first brand to participate, as part of a larger media buy.

However, Facebook won’t necessarily be charging advertisers for the highly targeted, extremely valuable, serendipity-inducing, long-term-relationship-forming privilege of showing their promotion to a nearby customer on an already-open Facebook mobile app, if the Ad Age report is to be believed.

Asked specifically about geolocation features, Facebook national sales director Kevin Colleran said at a conference yesterday, “We never launch a functionality with the intent of monetizing it,” noting that Facebook mobile usage currently goes entirely unmonetized. It’s unclear from the story how directly Colleran’s comments pertained to what Facebook is offering McDonald’s and soon other marketers.

I checked out the McDonald’s presence on Facebook and it seems clear the company is gearing up for location-based social media presences. Users are asked to give their zip code to get local McDonald’s info and specials. I tried entering my location and got the response, “Sorry, we’re not in your city…just yet! We’re expanding our local Facebook reach and want to hear from you.”

The picture will be filled in soon enough. Facebook would be silly not to capitalize on location-based advertising around check-ins, just as location-based players like Foursquare already are. AdAge writer Michael Learmonth speculated to us that Facebook may even use RFID tags (something the company has experimented with) to encourage users to check in with specific menu items. Free fries with that check-in and the purchase of a Big Mac? Yeah, sure!

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Location: The Epicenter of Mobile Innovation

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my bio.

18 Responses to “McDonald's to Be First Location-based Marketer on Facebook: Report”

  1. The thing with Facebook is that people come there for two reasons. The first is to promote themselves and share the things that they do with others in their network. The second (and primary reason for repeated daily visits for many) is to read the feed to see what your friends are doing. The most interesting of these friend posts are often photos and video – the most boring and pointless are things like Foursquare location posts.
    The point is: if Facebook waters down the content of their site so that there are twenty pointless feeds from our pool of 426 “friends” for every one that we actually find interesting, then the site starts to seem pretty useless. Welcome to MySpace territory, in other words.
    They should be careful in the ways that they try to grow into profitability, or else the whole thing might implode.

  2. This seems a little redundant can’t doesn’t Facebook already have this “geo” information? Why would I need to live a zip code? Businesses are already targeting geo locations when designing their ad, I am confused but it does not surprise, I am not a technical guy at all.

    • Hi Robert, the initial way this would work would be to use the GPS signals on your phone to identify a Starbucks that you are located in. You would choose to participate yourself if you had that kind of phone and you wanted to share your location.

      • Or more likely in Facebook’s case, you would be implicitly opted in and would have to choose not to participate through some convoluted settings :)


  3. Tommyismyname


    while it is a possibility, I sincerly doubt it.

    Gowalla and foursquare are far more game like and that is the primary part of it’s appeal. This seems like more of a play to get advertisers in the newsfeed, which could be very unappealing to facebooks users. I am genuinely curious to see how it all plays out.

    • I think you’re right that Gowalla and Foursquare will still have the opportunity to differentiate on the gaming side. But I don’t think gaming is the only motivator for location-sharing.