Facebook's Geo-Targeting Plan ... Finally Here?

First Expected in May but Delayed Because of Privacy Debate

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Facebook is having a big meeting on Wednesday and AllThingsD has the internet abuzz about whether it will finally announce its long-awaited plans for location-based marketing.

Long-awaited, indeed. Ad Age first reported on the social networking site's imminent location intentions back in early May (Facebook to Add Location This Month, Integrate Brands Later). While an exec with knowledge of the plans said it would come that month, Facebook hit the brakes on location because of concern about the privacy uproar that would most certainly follow it. It had to get this right.

In June, I interviewed Mark Zuckerberg on stage at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, and of course asked about location. He avoided specifics but said that "we're happy with what we're getting" and made it clear Facebook is treading carefully because of privacy issues. "It's a very important area, but it's also a sensitive one," he said at the time.

Marketers are highly interested in geo-targeting and Facebook has been talking to them about how they can integrate with location features. McDonald's is expected to be one of the early marketers involved. Incidentally, data from another location-based social service, MyTown, indicate fast feeders are the most popular category for "check-ins."

Ad Age will be covering the announcement tomorrow, but if you want to bone up on the implications ahead of time, check out Ian Schafer's DigitalNext post on the impact of geo-networking on Facebook and Greg Sterling's post on the impact for the local-advertising market.

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