After failing to capture the volume of check-ins that that it wanted, Facebook is revamping Places one year after its launch. Instead of being primarily a mobile tool for checking in (a la Foursquare), it is now a more broadly defined location tagging feature for all status updates.
This is sort of what Twitter Places promised to be but hasn’t really materialized. It’s also a smart move for Facebook and makes sense, as location is a key dimension of relevance. In other words “where I am” should be coupled with “what I’m doing.” The new Places structures this better.
But unlike the automatic location tags that Twitter appends to tweets (on an opt-in basis), Facebook users can choose any location — not just where they currently sit — to add to a status update. This broadens the use case beyond what you’re doing now or the “check-in” paradigm.
Instead, location can be tagged to anything you’re talking about, thinking about, a place you’d like to be, a picture you took or any other piece of content that can benefit from location context. Think of it like the way you currently tag individuals in photos (which also got revamped this week).
This is a very logical move for Facebook in not only adding context to status updates but also creating additional monetizable events. Just as Facebook Deals launched to follow Places, it will follow suit with the revamped places. In other words deals will be offered when places are tagged.
This could greatly broaden the “inventory” for deals to be offered. The way this will work in mobile was uncovered yesterday by TechCrunch and is represented in the graphic below. We’ll continue to examine how this will work and implications for local deals and advertising.
For now it’s a good move for Facebook, and BIA/Kelsey clients can read more in our report on Facebook Places and Deals.