Linking Status with Stuff – Google Latitude Offers Ability for Users to Check In
Google added the ability to let users check in via Latitude last week, propelling the search giant into the mobile offers arena along with competitors like Facebook Places and FourSquare. The move is compelling for a number of reasons:
- Auto Check-In. For non-geeky types who don’t unholster their iPhones every two meters to checkin via services like FourSquare, Latitude features an auto check-in service. When you enter a new location, Latitude asks if you want to check in so friends will now know the actual store or business you’re in versus just your location on a map. After you’ve been to a location once, you can opt to check in automatically. The service also automatically checks you out so you don’t have to open up the app every time you leave.
- Status Settings. Instead of becoming a “mayor” of a location like on Foursquare, brand partners offering deals like American Eagle Outfitters cater those deals to “Regulars, VIPs or Gurus.” This is compelling as it ties actual currency to location versus the social currency of the FourSquare model. It’s also a way Google can compete with coupon sites like Groupon and leverage the auto check-in model for users to know when a brand nearby is offering something they may be interested in.
- Stuff. By partnering with companies like Macy’s, Arby’s and Radio Shack, Latitude offers incentive for users to go to brands that will directly reward their shopping behavior. This is in contrast to the Facebook Sponsored Stories model where brands can broadcast users’ comments without providing them any deals. Meaning, if someone says, “Just went to Arby’s” using Facebook Sponsored Stories Arby’s can use that comment as an ad whereas Latitude directly rewards consumer behavior. Facebook Places also offers deals, but users may opt to use Latitude since Facebook does not allow users to opt out of Sponsored Stories. Most people want to be rewarded for their behavior without brands advertising around their actions.
The automatic check-in feature of Latitude does have a drawback—when you’re in locations identified by the app, everyone will know where you are. So those pesky peccadilloes you might have hidden from your Facebook status will automatically be broadcast live via Latitude. Although the service is focused on sharing activities with friends you’ve identified, it’s an important trend to note. As app-fatigue weighs on users, automatic functionality means people will start to forget which services are telling the world what.
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