The Facebook home page of McDonald's
The Facebook home page of McDonald's - 
Listen To The Story


Kai Ryssdal: Y ouknow how the saying in real estate has always been "location, location, location?" The same thing is true online. Location-based applications are where it's at today. Software for your smartphone that lets you tell your friends where you are and you can find out where they are. According to Ad Age, the business opportunities have not gone unnoticed.

Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports.

Jeff Tyler: McDonald's is experimenting with a new kind of advertising.

Gary Arlen: "Location media," it's called. Letting people know where you are.

That's Gary Arlen, who follows the convergence of technology and marketing.

Arlen: It's what marketers really are trying to do -- get to a customer and get to his friends at the point of purchase.

It's a departure for McDonald's, which has historically focused its ads on building the Mickey D's brand.

High-tech analyst Rob Enderle says the fast-food giant is leading the charge into a new frontier.

Rob Enderle: This is a keystone to McDonald's plan to kind of get ahead of the curve, learn a new tool and be expert at it by the time the tool becomes much more powerful than it currently is.

There are companies like Foursquare that already specialize in this type of location-based social media. But Enderle says the arrival of big players like Facebook could tilt the playing field.

Enderle: Either from a user perspective or an advertiser perspective, this move by Facebook is a chilling note to any of the smaller competitors.

He says this is just the beginning of location-based marketing. Enderle expects more companies to enter the fray.

Enderle: We're going to be seeing it more. We're going to see it much more aggressively. But it may be awhile before we see it done right.

Companies like Starbucks already offer coupons and deals to Foursquare users when they pass a store. Location-based marketing is not pervasive yet. But a platform like Facebook could make it as ubiquitous as McDonalds.

In Los Angeles, I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

Follow Jeff Tyler at @JeffMarketplace