The great debate for local advertising has begun. Local Advertising is the final frontier for companies trying to expose their brands to customers. Popular “check-in” apps like Gowalla and Foursquare have become ubiquitous. Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other major social players are all integrating social check-ins into their respective API’s, but what does this mean for us? We’re now volunteering our personal information about our habits and preferences to major companies. These companies can use that data to create a revenue model on a global scale. If I am a 20-something in addison who frequents the flying saucer, it doesn’t matter that I haven’t written my glowing review on yelp. The fact that I have checked in on my phone every week for X weeks in a row shows brand loyalty, which is more important than a simple review.
Obviously, great reviews help businesses on a local level. they help offset the unavoidable negative reviews from trolls and rare occasions of poor service.. (these reviews are inherit parts of business. a negative experience has an exponentially higher likelyhood of being shared than a pleasurable experience) But tangible check ins at a business are still under-appreciated and will definitely garner greater influence as the hyper local landscape smooths out.
I believe that in the next 18 months a business model that integrates the best aspects of groupon / livingsocial, yelp, and (insert any check-in service) will start to gain momentum. If a business can offer real viable discounts and benefits to their loyal “follower’s” then the check-in model will grow and with that the revenue model for the companies building the API’s will be realized.