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Denny’s app drops geo-targeting in favor of customization, gaming

Denny’s recent application update pivots the brand away from a previous geo-targeted approach with a bigger focus on customization and gaming to drive user engagement and value.

The new app builds on the chain’s Build Your Own menu theme by enabling customers to personalize their app according to available features and the order in which they appear. Additionally, the app features more interactive features such as the Museum of Diner Art showcase and the game Order Up to keep diners occupied while they wait for their orders.

“Denny’s new mobile app leverages our ‘Build Your Own’ heritage incorporating functionality that allows the user to essentially ‘Build Your Own’ app exactly how you want it; from the available features a user personally utilizes, to the order in which they are placed on the home screen,” said Erik Jensen, director of advertising at Denny’s, Spartanburg, SC.

“While several features may be familiar to users, such as the Restaurant Finder, Menu and Calorie Counter, we have now included more interactive features that can serve as ‘wait busters,’ such as the new ‘MoDA’ (Museum of Diner Art) that showcases unique diner artwork designed by fans and uploaded using the #dinerart hashtag on Instagram,” he said.

“Additionally, we are introducing a fun and engaging game called ‘Order Up,’ where guests are involved in an interactive cooking competition where they challenge other users to complete diner-themed game levels.”

Universal approach
The mobile application is one way Denny’s is building awareness of its new Monthly Features menu, which includes Build Your Own French Toast and other customizable items designed to make it easy for families to juggle individual preferences at mealtime.

For example, Build Your Own French Toast has more than 15 different items to choose from.

Denny’s first launched a mobile app in 2012 and had more than 300,000 downloads for the app prior to the update.

The app was originally build around the 50 State Challenge, which was an interactive race across America offering players a chance to win multiple loyalty-based rewards including free Grand Slams for life.

“This was more geo-targeted to users, as opposed to a more universal approach with our recent update,” Mr. Jensen said.

A multi-pronged approach
A big focus of Denny’s mobile strategy is engaging with customers while they are inside one of the restaurants, such as with the new mobile game up OrderUp.

Previously, Denny’s introduced an augmented-reality-packed placemat, a mobile-optimized site and a video contest to celebrate the release last fall of the film “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (see story).

The chain is also exploring loyalty and online ordering as it looks to expand its mobile strategy.

“Denny’s continues to leverage new technologies and emerging media to enhance our ‘Denny’s is a place for me’ message and grow our share of dining occasions,” Mr. Jensen said. “While our mobile app is one element, functionally we are actively testing loyalty programs and online ordering, while continually evaluating mobile ad units and their relationship to store visitation lift and in-store conversions.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York