2011 was a major stepping stone for location-based services, as we outlined in our recent “Year in Review” infographic. For starters, more than 15 million people are now using Foursquare—double the number from a year ago—and millions more are using location-based services on Facebook and Twitter. 2012 will be another critical year for location-based marketing, as check-ins continue to cross over into the mainstream.
Based on our conversations with marketers and technologists in the industry, as well as our own observations and intuition, we present eight predictions for location-based marketing in 2012:
1) Foursquare Creates Advertising Network. Foursquare has long allowed businesses to offer specials to customers that check in. And its Merchant Dashboard has driven consumer adoption, as more and more people check in to receive deals and offers.
With more than 600,000 businesses using its business tools, look for Foursquare to begin monetizing this service as it seeks to generate revenue. Our expectation is that Foursquare will begin to charge businesses that seek to run specials on more than one location.
2) Foursquare hits the 30-million mark. Foursquare is growing at approximately 30,000 users a day, and we expect this to gradually increase during the upcoming year. After announcing its 15 millionth user last December, look for Foursquare to tally 30 million users by the end of 2012.
3) Integrations between check-ins, loyalty CRMs and credit cards increase. 2011 saw brands such as American Express and Starwood begin incorporating check-ins into their reward programs. Expect more brands to convert check-ins to loyalty points (e.g., “Check in and get 50 bonus points!”) instead of simply providing rewards at the point of sale.
4) Facebook will enable location-specific mobile advertising. As Facebook continues to grow revenue ahead of its 2012 IPO, look for the social network to finally turn on location-based advertising within its mobile application. This will enable marketers to deliver ads based on both current location and past check-ins.
5) New competitors emerge that automate the check-in process. Consumer growth has proven that users enjoy sharing their location, connecting with nearby friends and earning rewards. The largest headache with services such as Foursquare and Facebook is that users must still manually check in to each location. This creates opportunities in 2012 for innovative start-ups that automatically check users into venues when provided permission.
6) Groupon Acquires Foursquare. With Groupon still flush with cash, and Foursquare continuing to drive more-and-more merchant transactions, we predict Groupon makes Foursquare an offer it can’t refuse. This would expand Groupon’s merchant toolset and give it access to millions of new consumers through Foursquare’s mobile app.
7) Marketers increasingly incorporate check-ins into sweepstakes and contest programs. 2012 appears to be the year that check-ins secure their place within marketers budgets. Marketing agencies and brands will consistently include check-ins in their marketing mix this year, driving traffic to their brands and creating even more awareness for location-based services.
8) Marketers embrace “big data” and integrate location-based marketing. As more marketers include location-based marketing in their 2012 campaigns, reporting will become a hot topic. Check-ins provide incredibly valuable data to marketers about what their customers do and when they do it. This will lead savvy marketers to begin integrating their location-based data into their existing marketing platforms, enabling them to learn even more about their customers and incorporate these learnings across all marketing channels.
What are your predictions for location-based marketing in 2012? And do you agree or disagree with our list? Post your comments below.
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