Foursquare is hands-down the leader of the location-based/geo-social marketing space when it comes to hype. But other services are making their marks among both brands and users.
In fact, three of the five location-based services briefed below have more users than Foursquare, which has roughly 1 million. Like Foursquare, most utilize the mobile "check in" system, while rewarding users for registering an arrival at a store, restaurant, or another kind of business. Though, the services are being leveraged in different ways by brand partners.
Here are snapshots of recent campaigns by name brands on five prominent location-based platforms not named Foursquare:
Olay on Booyah, Targeting Women in Pharmacies
For the last month, Olay has been leveraging Booyah's "MyTown" service whenever one of the location-based game's 2.5 million users check-in at pharmacies and other stores that sell skin products. The users have been served quizzes that, in the end, produce a specific skin care recommendation from the multi-billion-dollar P&G brand's product line.
Booyah CEO Keith Lee noted that the quizzes end by asking if the experience influenced the user about buying a skin cream. "The data shows that purchase intent increases [dramatically]," Lee said. "The experience Olay wanted was to have people walk into a store and actually tell them what skin cream best fits each person."
Susan Kuo, VP of sales for Palo Alto, CA-based Booyah, said it's a nationwide effort that incorporates CitySearch's business directory. "We are doing category-specific targeting," Kuo said. "Pharmacies like Rite Aid and CVS are targeted, as well as nail and hair salons. Essentially, it is targeted towards females."
Gap Rewards Loopt Check-ins With Discount
Gap has been using Loopt to offer a 25 percent discount for users that check in twice at one of the retailer's locations. Since June 1, as part of a new rewards program called Loopt Star, Gap store patrons can present a digital code to get the discount. While Loopt has 3 million users and is available on most handheld devices, the rewards program is currently only available as an iPhone app.
Sam Altman, CEO of the Mountain View, CA-based Loopt, said that "every Gap in the U.S." was participating in the campaign. Other brands that have used the rewards program this month include Burger King, Starbucks, and Universal Music Group, Altman said. When addressing marketers using Loopt Star, he added, "We will have a self-service platform soon."
Starbucks Uses Brightkite, Too, Employs Day-Parting
Few brands seem as dedicated to testing location-based services as Starbucks. Indeed, the coffee giant has made social media news with not only the aforementioned Loopt - but much more so with Foursquare. Well, add Brightkite to the list.
Starbucks has been running promotions on the platform for its Frappuccino drinks line since mid-May. The campaign has included Brightkite users competing for a Frappuccino badge by tallying the most check-ins. (It's been using a similar tactic on Foursquare.)
In addition, Brightkite users (2 million) who check-in at other coffee shops - chains like Dunkin' Donuts as well as independents - have been receiving Starbucks messages and special offers, said Rob Lawson, CMO for the Burlingame, CA-based Brightkite. Lawson said store visitors that check-in during morning hours have also received timed offers around mid-afternoon from Starbucks. "Day-parts coupled with geo-location targeting, I think, is working well for the brand," he said.
But perhaps most interestingly, Starbucks has been pushing its "Via" packaged coffee whenever Brightkite's users check in at supermarkets. "Safeway, Wal-Mart, Target, etc., anywhere you find groceries you can now buy Via," Lawson said. "We've done targeted ads for Via for people checking in at those locations."
USA Today Jet-sets Via Gowalla
USA Today will be providing Gowalla users (300,000-plus) with content from the newspaper's "Travel" section whenever they check-in at major airports until Labor Day. Cities involved include New York, Seattle, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. The newspaper will provide 10 places to visit in those cities when users indicate they've reached their travel destination by checking-in.
The users will also receive airline and airport news from USA Today's "Today in the Sky" online section, which is dedicated to the concerns of jet-setters. While the Gowalla play by the newspaper appears to be about branding on the surface, there are rumblings that USA Today may eventually wrap promotions from brand advertising partners around the mobile content.
Pepsi Tests Stickybits
Pepsi is the first official partner for Stickybits, a geo-social system that's notably different than others and focuses on items rather than places. Stickybits allow people and brands to attach information and multimedia to printed barcodes and attach them to objects, such as birthday cards - or in the case of Pepsi, soda cans.
Users with the Stickybits app employ a phone camera as a barcode scanner, and can add a comment, photo, audio, or video about the item. The next person to scan that barcode will view the content and can leave a message of his own. Scanning the barcode on a can of Pepsi displays messages directly from Pepsi - most having to do with the beverage brand's advocacy marketing "Refresh" campaign.
Another PepsiCo product, Lay's potato chips, has also been part of the initiative.
Meanwhile, Stickybits' app user numbers were not made available.
Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.