A recent Pew Study found that a mere 4% of internet users utilize location based services, such as Foursquare. While this surprisingly low figure has many e-marketers scratching their heads, we suggest taking a step back before rushing into panic mode. Remember, the internet is a dynamic medium and it’s fairly difficult to gauge emerging trends from these types of statistics.
For instance, previous studies indicate that Smartphone users are more likely to search for all things local, but they represent the minority in of terms of global consumers. Basically, this demographic dominates the local based niche. Yet these tech savvy trendsetters are in tune with the next phase of web development, so their behavior probably signifies a movement towards this type of platform; it’s just going to take a while for everyone else to catch up.
Still have your doubts? Consider the following: Facebook plans on allowing advertisers to offer coupons and other deals via Facebook places, which is their location based mobile app. Companies will be able to provide one time only incentives, rewards for loyal customers, and create a kind of referral program to thank those who bring in additional patrons. There’s a fourth option that’s built around charitable donations, which are the bread and butter of a positive PR branding campaign. Facebook’s currently partnering with large multinational corporations, such as the Gap, on this project; however, this could be a useful tool for mom and pop shops trying to monetize their web traffic. This resource may prove incredibly valuable to the brick and mortar set because there’s no overhead cost involved! That’s right, running the mobile ads is free, just like managing a profile page. Plus, paperless marketing means going green in a big way while saving you money on printing costs.
Facebook’s Places debuted to mixed reviews due to privacy concerns, and this program gives the reluctant a good reason to take the plunge. The company has demonstrated a fairly decent grasp of consumer tastes, and their investment in this technology probably indicates that local based services will see a rapid increase in popularity. Some nay sayers are predicting failure on this venture. But they’re probably the same people that predicted a mass exodus from the social networking site a few months ago.