5 awesome ways brands are using location-based marketing

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Location-based marketing is the new newspaper insert when it comes to targeted advertising. Though it has potential to generate the same kind of impact as a pre-print, the digital game layer makes it much more fun and creatively demanding than simply putting ink on paper. It enables big brands to make a splash and small businesses to reward their most loyal customers.

According to comScore, 65.8 million people in the U.S. now own smart phones, up eight percent from October 2010. Of these, comScore reported that 35.3 percent used apps -- which means that over 22.9 million people are using applications on their personal devices.

In fact, there are more people in the US who own a smart phone than who pay to read a print newspaper. In 1993, at their high point, newspapers in the US reported 62.5 million paid subscribers in 1993. By 2009, they were reporting a mere 45.6 million paid subscribers, according to the Editor and Publisher International Yearbook. The numbers continue to decline.

This means that roughly 30 percent more individuals in the U.S. carry a smart phone than buy a daily newspaper.

This article is a guide to how some major brands are approaching the pockets, hearts and minds of smart phone users and use location-based services to encourage engagement, sales, and awareness.

Innovating with location-based marketing
You have the opportunity to capture a customer and help them to make a quick decision while they're near or in your brick-and-mortar location.

Here are five examples of innovative ways that big brands and savvy marketers are taking advantage of new location-based technologies and using them to bring customers together around meaningful events and activities.

New York Public Library
In a move that embodies the public intellectual history of America and the perfect application of social media, the New York Public Library plans to celebrate its centennial smart phone style.

It recently launched a "Find the Future" Foursquare badge that encourages and rewards exploration of public libraries in New York City. It transforms visitors into library ambassadors who, via location-based check-ins, end up promoting library services, programs, and collections to their Foursquare friends. 

Badge winners get a one-year Foursquare Friends Membership at the library that comes with exclusive member-only perks such as the opportunity to win free NYPL event tickets and participate in behind-the-scenes tours.

The library has also designed an app-based overnight scavenger hunt called "Find the Future: The Game." On May 20, 500 pre-registered participants will complete tasks during a special launch event, before the game goes live to the public on May 21. The tasks encourage players to explore the library and historical objects such as the Declaration of Independence.

JetBlue Airways
In January 2011, JetBlue Airways became the first U.S. airline to announce an integration between their frequent flyer rewards program and Facebook Places. JetBlue GoPlaces participants receive 25 TrueBlue frequent flyer points every time they check in to an official JetBlue airport location using Facebook Places. Those who accumulate 5,000 or more points can trade them in for free flights. While this is not exactly immediate gratification -- it takes 200 airport check ins to earn a free flight -- it's still noteworthy.

The original GoPlaces program launched with a promotional event targeted at JetBlue's top markets. The first 100 customers to check in at key JetBlue airports including Logan International in Boston, Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International, Long Beach, New York's John F. Kennedy International, or Orlando International airport could get 100 points for a check in.