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Burger King, Gap, Starbucks drive sales via mobile social network

Burger King, Gap, Starbucks and Universal Music Group are among the initial brands driving sales via the new Loopt Star mobile social networking rewards game.

Loopt, which calls itself a location-based social mapping service, has launched a new mobile rewards game called Loopt Star, currently available as an application for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch, that lets consumers check in to compete with friends and win real-world rewards from retailers and organizations. With Loopt Star, users play with friends and gain achievements, coupons and other brand-specified rewards for checking into specific locations.

“We started with impression-based advertising, but we evoled to the mobile equivalent of a cost-per-visit model,” said Sam Altman, cofounder/CEO of Loopt, Mountain View, CA. “Advertisers want to pay for people that actually come to their location, and they want to inspire customers to become better customers, and customers want to be rewarded for their loyalty.

“When a user checks in at a partner’s location, the brand’s logo shows up in the user’s Facebook page,” he said. “Advertisers like owning that social real estate.”

In addition to Loopt Star, Loopt has produced a suite of mobile applications including Loopt, Loopt Pulse for iPad and Loopt Mix.

Loopt products use location on mobile phones, iPad and iPod touch devices to help their users find and enjoy the friends, places and events around them right now.

The Loopt services have more than 3 million registered users and partnerships with every major United States wireless carrier.

Customizable rewards for brand loyalty
Deals available to consumers at launch include:

• The Gap is running an adults-only promotion. Consumers that check into The Gap locations two times receive an instant 25 percent discount to be used on the second visit.

• Burger King – Consumers that check in three times to any Manhattan/New York/New Jersey Burger King get a free coffee (any size) or free soda (any size) with a qualifying sandwich purchase.

• Universal Music Group – Consumers that check into any qualifying bar in the United States with two other Facebook friends get access to five free MP3s from Universal Music artists such as Rhianna, Lady Gaga and Mos Def.

• Starbucks – The person who checks into any individual Starbucks the most becomes the “Honorary Barista” of that Starbucks.

•  Stanford University – Students who download the Loopt Star application onto their iPhone or iPod touch will be able to earn a Class of 2010 graduation gift by checking in to multiple Commencement week events.

Loopt Star is available as a free download for iPhone and iPod Touch through the App Store or at

Each participating organization can offer a unique reward for fulfilling specific actions such as checking in a certain number of times, or with a specified number of Facebook friends.

Loopt Star also lets users optionally share their location with friends.

The application offers retailers a virtual loyalty card, letting them to connect directly with their customers when they are out and about, driving foot traffic and encouraging repeat visits. It offers retailers and businesses a cost-per-visit business model.

Loopt is working directly with top brands to customize all aspects of Loopt Star, from the activity needed to earn the reward, to the type of virtual or real-world reward earned.

Campaigns available at launch include can be found on the Loopt blog at, and also inside the application itself, listed in “Nearby Rewards” on the Check In screen.

Brands can use Loopt Star to create campaigns designed to deliver foot traffic, connect with customers, build a community and increase their Facebook fan base.

Customized brand campaigns can specify:

• The qualifying retail locations

• The qualifying time of day, day of week or time span

• The qualifying number of check-in times

• Whether they need to check in with friends, and the number of friends

• Which rewards are available to friends through the Facebook newsfeed (for example, “the next person to check into Joe’s Restaurant today gets free dessert” can appear on the newsfeed to all Facebook friends)

• Specific and virtual rewards, such as achievements, special titles and discount coupons. Special titles allow retailers to offer a custom “Boss” title and graphic to the person who checks in the most at an individual location.

Mr. Altman said that hyper-local advertising should be about much more than simply clicking on a banner ad—it should be about connecting with brands and getting rewarded for loyalty.

Brands want to turn their existing customers into better ones.

Mr. Altman said that Loopt Star enables brands to create customized campaigns that reach their customers in a completely targeted, interactive way that rewards the behaviors they want.

Loopt Star users can expect new campaigns and achievements to come online continuously, according to Mr. Altman.

In the Loopt
In addition to brand-specific customized rewards, Loopt Star also lets the person with the most check-ins at a specific place to become the “Boss” of that location, taking a page from competitor Foursquare’s playbook.

Leaderboards let users compete with their Facebook friends and others to win back ownership of a location.

Dozens of hidden achievements will also be available to Loopt Star game players at launch, which be won when certain check-in actions are performed.

Loopt Star claims to be the first mobile location application based purely on Facebook Connect, which adds a key social component.

Users can share their current location in real-time with all of their friends on Facebook, and alert friends via their Facebook news feed about special offers they see on Loopt Star that are available to anyone.

With its close integration into Facebook, Loopt Star lets Facebook friends stay up to date on where friends are, what they are doing and what brands they are interacting with.

“The model we started with is ‘punch 10 times, get a free sandwich,’ but mobile can do a bunch of things a physical loyalty card can’t do such as check in with friends and integrate into social networks,” Mr. Altman said. “Brands love the friend-to-friend element spreading recommendations virally, which proves that we can drive traffic to physical locations.

“Brands are saying ‘bring friends and we’ll reward all of you,’” he said. “If a location tends to be slow at certain time, brands can choose to reward consumers who check in at a certain time of day.”