Gowalla Goes Local With Ad Program

gowallacalendarWhile Gowalla has been attracting national advertisers for months, it has taken few steps to appeal to small or regional marketers. Today the location-based service released some self-service features designed with those businesses in mind and an unusual pricing structure to back them up.

The company debuted a “Stamp Calendar” for New York, San Francisco, and Austin, TX. Each city’s calendar offers one marketing slot per day that starts at $5 for the first day and increases $5 in cost each day thereafter. The program will launch on Jan. 1 and is expected to roll out nationwide during the course of 2011.

For instance, in each city, a placement on Jan. 1 costs $5, Jan. 2 is priced at $10, Jan. 3 is $15, and so on, all the way up to December 31, when the cost of an ad will be $1,825. While weekend days would seem like prime purchases for a restaurant or bar, they incrementally increase by $5 from the day before as if they were Mondays and Tuesdays.

Gowalla is already reporting some positive results for the stamp calendars. The first week of January has been sold for Austin, TX, as have four of the first five days for San Francisco, and the first day for New York.

The calendar appearances for the small business will include branded “Passport Stamps;” such stamps are rewards on the Gowalla game. In addition, the stamps will appear as part of the platform’s new “City Pages,” which will represent 30 worldwide markets like the aforementioned U.S. cities as well as London and Stockholm, Sweden.

Pia Arthur, marketing manager for the Austin, TX-based Gowalla, said the entire platform is self-service and designed to allow small businesses the chance to employ custom stamps. “We have had a lot of small businesses come to us,” she said. “And while we have worked with some of them, because we create custom stamps…it’s really challenging to create a custom stamp for all of those businesses. So, we wanted something that was unique and scalable from the backend perspective.”

Gowalla says that 40 percent of its users are international. Therefore, next year’s “Stamp Calendar” expansions could target the ad budgets of international local businesses.

Arthur said the platform model was experimental. “Assuming that people enjoy the model and it works for folks, we will consider rolling it out to other cities,” she said. “We’ll definitely consider international cities as well.”

Also of importance: local businesses can now have a verified Gowalla account. Verified accounts allow those business owners to automatically send a marketing message when one of the platform’s 500,000 users records a check-in.