There’s been a lot of buzz recently about Facebook’s impending launch of location features, with McDonald’s reportedly among the first brands to use location-based marketing on the service. Now Facebook-based marketing startup Context Optional is entering the arena, launching in-stream geo-targeted publishing features with concert promoter Live Nation.
Context Optional provides an enterprise Social Marketing Suite, on-demand software to create and manage Facebook applications, pages, and marketing campaigns (check out VentureBeat’s previous coverage of Context Optional). Brands can now conduct geo-targeted marketing campaigns in which they publish coupons, videos, polls, and other rich content directly into the news feeds of their Facebook fans.
Content Optional claims to be the only application capable of scheduling geo-targeted in stream campaigns. Live Nation is promoting Saturday’s Bamboozle 2010 festival with a VIP ticket contest targeting fans in the Chicago area where the event is being held. As bands tour the globe, Live Nation can reach fans with customized promotions, creating an ongoing conversation with them that they can leverage to sell tickets.
Even though fan pages receive a lot of traffic, about half of Facebook’s over 400 million plus users log in every day and see their news feed. I might not check a band’s fan page the day before tickets go on sale, but I will definitely check my news feed. The ability to customize campaign schedules and content by location is a valuable tool as marketers look to seamlessly integrate their brands into the user experience.
Context Optional uses the geographic location from a user’s profile for targeting, not the rumored check-in functionality that McDonald’s is using to develop its app in partnership with Facebook. Context Optional CEO Kevin Barenblat said the company would incorporate check-ins once Facebook opens up APIs supporting the feature. “When they do, we’ll be able to build on our current offerings to more precisely target users.”
While great for marketers, it struck me that this might lead to news feed congestion. Users who join numerous fan pages might find their news feeds cluttered. Barenblat pointed out that users join fan pages and can exclude individual users and fan pages from their news feed. He also stressed that customized content will provide users a better, more cohesive experience.
“There are a lot of different things that are location specific.” Barenblat said. “It reduces the clutter and allows us to target better.”
Context Optional’s application are programmed in Flash, so despite having mobile ambitions, the company’s apps won’t be accessible to the over 100 million Facebook users who access the service through its mobile apps everyday. Most mobile devices don’t support Flash, a major obstacle for a number of application developers. Barenblat said they were investigating flash alternatives as they further expand into mobile.
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