Facebook Changes Combine the 'Who' and 'Where' More Than Ever Before

While Groupon Makes Its Millions, Facebook Is Putting Revenue on the Back Burner

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Mike Lazerow
Mike Lazerow
Facebook is the dominant player in the business of Who – who you are, and who you are friends with and connected to. Wednesday's announcements in Palo Alto make it clear that the company plans to win the game of Where – specifically, where you are right now, where your friends are and where you can get deals on what's around you.

This combination of Who + Where on a platform at scale that now reaches more than half a billion people will take location-based marketing mainstream to the masses. Facebook made three big mobile announcements yesterday:

  1. Single Sign On – Makes it easier to sign into various mobile apps without having to take that annoying step of re-entering your info each time.
  2. Open Location API – When "places" first launched it was a read API. We could read information about places but couldn't do anything in terms of building apps or other functionality into places. Now that has changed and we can expect a tidal wave of Places based apps and features.
  3. Deals – This was perhaps the biggest of the announcements. When Places first launched, there was no "reward" for checking in, as there is with other location based services. Now with Deals, brands are offering specific deals to people who come to their stores or perform other actions. Already, the Gap, one of the Deals launch partners announced they will give away a free pair of jeans to first 10,000 people to check in to Gap outlets after the deal goes live next week.

There are still a lot of things to look forward to here. When will Deals be rolled out globally? (Currently it's only in the US.) When will it be available on other platforms? (Currently it's only on Android and via touch.Facebook.com).

The most interesting part of the announcement yesterday is that Facebook will not be making any money directly from any of the new product announcements. Groupon is reportedly generating close to a billion dollars a year working with small businesses nationally. Yelp and others have proven that the money is there. But Facebook has decided to launch with no explicit revenue strategy. Why? They believe that telling people where you are, seeing where your friends are and getting deals near you is amazing functionality they want to encourage. It's the first time Facebook has incentivized people to use it's mobile platform and specifically, it's Places functionality.

While Facebook won't be making money, you definitely can by leveraging the new functionality. There are already a slew of brands offering deals, and many more to come as it gets rolled out. This also offers amazing opportunities for developers, marketers and brands. You can find more info on the Facebook blog here.

Michael Lazerow is CEO of Buddy Media, whose Facebook management system is used by global brands and agencies. He founded Golf.com and sold it to Time Inc., and U-Wire, which was sold to CBS. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/lazerow.
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