McDonald’s to Be First Location-based Marketer on Facebook: Report

McDonald’s (s MCD) will be the first marketer to use Facebook’s forthcoming location platform, according to Advertising Age. Users will be given the ability to check in at a location using a status update on Facebook as early as this month, AdAge reports, and then see a featured product targeted to that location. McDonald’s will reportedly be the first brand to participate, as part of a larger media buy.

However, Facebook won’t necessarily be charging advertisers for the highly targeted, extremely valuable, serendipity-inducing, long-term-relationship-forming privilege of showing their promotion to a nearby customer on an already-open Facebook mobile app, if the Ad Age report is to be believed.

Asked specifically about geolocation features, Facebook national sales director Kevin Colleran said at a conference yesterday, “We never launch a functionality with the intent of monetizing it,” noting that Facebook mobile usage currently goes entirely unmonetized. It’s unclear from the story how directly Colleran’s comments pertained to what Facebook is offering McDonald’s and soon other marketers.

I checked out the McDonald’s presence on Facebook and it seems clear the company is gearing up for location-based social media presences. Users are asked to give their zip code to get local McDonald’s info and specials. I tried entering my location and got the response, “Sorry, we’re not in your city…just yet! We’re expanding our local Facebook reach and want to hear from you.”

The picture will be filled in soon enough. Facebook would be silly not to capitalize on location-based advertising around check-ins, just as location-based players like Foursquare already are. AdAge writer Michael Learmonth speculated to us that Facebook may even use RFID tags (something the company has experimented with) to encourage users to check in with specific menu items. Free fries with that check-in and the purchase of a Big Mac? Yeah, sure!

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