Perhaps it is just taking longer to cook. AdAge is reporting that the leading social network is expected to challenge popular startup Foursquare by offering location-based status updates for its users later this month.
What makes this interesting is the rumor that Facebook will offer check-ins with a side of McDonald’s.
The fast food chain is allegedly building an application with Facebook to allow users to check in at one of its restaurants and have a featured product appear in the post, said AdAge, citing executives close to the deal.
Coupons for Angus burgers and such could also be in the mix for Facebook users who check in while at participating McDonald’s locations.
This deal would serve as its own advertising within an application. Indeed, AdAge said the app was negotiated as part of a “bigger media buy on Facebook, and McDonald’s will be the first marketer to take advantage of the service.”
The sky is the limit on pairing such timely and relevant ads with location. Moreover, the ad-within-the-app approach is looking promising, with Apple among the companies lending their weight to in-app ads with its impending iAd platform.
However, Facebook will have to be very careful about protecting user privacy with any location service. The company is currently weathering privacy storms on multiple fronts.
That’s not stopping other digital ad agencies looking to strike similar deals with Facebook. Digital marketing firm Context Optional CEO Karen Barenblat confirmed his team is working on Facebook location features for its retail clients.
What will be interesting to see is what effect Facebook’s move has on services from Gowalla and Foursquare, which has grown to support more than 1 million users in just over a year.
Foursquare has already inked check-in deals with major brands PepsiCo, Starbucks, Bravo and MTV. For example, Foursquare users who check in at Starbucks locations will earn the “Barista badge” after five check-ins.
However, the startup is vastly outgunned by the nearly 500 million Facebook users.
Social media experts say the pie is quite large enough to allow many companies to succeed, and Google, Twitter and a host of other Internet companies are already dabbling in location. The real winners may be those who can bring the best advertisers to their sites, creating campaigns that draw in more users.
That’s a win-win for a location provider such as Facebook and an advertiser such as McDonald’s. McDonald’s current slogan is “I’m Lovin’ it.” How long before Facebook users begin saying “I’m locatin it”?