Facebook is testing a new feature called “Place Tips,” where the company will use signals from cellular networks, Wi-Fi, as well as GPS and beacons to deliver location-based recommendations and information to users’ News Feeds. According to many in the industry, the move may enable the platform to compete with other local search and discovery services like Foursquare and Yelp.
Now, when iPhone users tap on “Place Tips” in the top of their News Feed, they can see content from a business’ Facebook page along with what their friends have shared about that place, such as popular menu items and upcoming events. Users have the option to opt out of “Place Tips” by turning off location services on the Facebook app.
In the coming weeks, Facebook will enable “Place Tips” for eight businesses in New York City that have installed beacons, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dominique Ansel Bakery, Strand Book Store, the burger joint at Le Parker Meridien Hotel, Brooklyn Bowl, Pianos, the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, and Veselka.
The pilot program also includes the use of other location signals at larger places including Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and JFK Airport.
“I think it’s a big plus for traditional brick-and-mortar based businesses. [And] it would be something to watch very closely and start testing if a brand is already relying on things like Yelp to drive business,” says Josiah Humphrey, co-chief executive at app developer Appster. “I don’t want to scream ‘Yelp-killer’ but Facebook definitely has the user base to make a play here, maybe even carve out a potentially new revenue stream.”
It’s also interesting to see Facebook delving into beacon marketing, as one of the obstacles to the mass adoption of beacons is that businesses have to develop their own apps to leverage the technology. But now if brands use Facebook’s “Place Tips,” they can avoid this issue.
“Everyone has Facebook and most are using it primarily on mobile devices, making Facebook’s reach via this technology vastly better than most custom app capabilities,” says Derek Browers, vice president of product and client relations at MomentFeed, a location-based marketing platform. “So now Facebook is piloting the ability for brands to leverage their beacons to target consumers in and around [their] locations, making Facebook location pages much more important and more critical than ever before.”
However, Chris Damron, chief innovation officer at BeaconStream, argues that brands may still want to develop their own apps, rather than using the platform’s “Place Tips.”
“Many retailers may not want to give advertising control to a third-party application such as Facebook, which works through its own big advertising channels,” Damron tells ClickZ.
He continues that as Facebook rolls out “Place Tips,” advertisers will now have to take proximity into consideration.
“The value proposition behind beacons is to deliver relevant content at the most crucial moment. Businesses will have to design their ads to lure in a consumer that could be within walking distance into their establishment, meaning ads must be designed within the context of a new mindset,” he explains. “If consumers are in a mall or shopping district, they are already primed to make a purchase. What offer or piece of information will trigger them to take action now?”
Currently “Place Tips” is free for businesses; Facebook has not disclosed if it will monetize the service in the future.
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