your face. your discounts. your every check-in reported.

There are two common ways that people view advances in marketing technology – the kind designed to recognize, track, and record what you like, don’t like, and expect from the businesses you patronize. Most see it as either conveniently beneficial or controversially intrusive.

Facebook and Foursquare tracking have already provoked a good deal of online privacy and safety discussions, and the online privacy debate continues to grow, fueled by the advent of each new convenience marketing technology.

One new high-tech tool, Facedeals, created by Nashville based development company Red Pepper, is now in beta testing and causing quite a stir for marketers and privacy advocates alike. Facedeals is a social networking app that users may opt into through Facebook. However, although the service is slated to be 100% opt-in, critics still question the damage it may have upon already fragile user rights to privacy and the precedents it will set for other, future information scanning and tracking technologies.

how facedeals deals with your information

As stated above, Facedeals is a 100% opt-in service. Red Pepper, the app’s developer, is not (yet) officially affiliated with Facebook. The service is far from mandatory and currently operates in only a handful of beta stage approved Nashville business locations. However, once fully tested and launched, Red Pepper plans for its Facedeals app to virtually replace the Facebook check-in.

Facedeals is designed to reward customers with user incentives, and to treat businesses to automated online brand visibility, thus stimulating more store traffic and sales. The process works like this:

  1. A user signs up for Facedeals on their Facebook, giving the app permission to post when the Facedeals system checks-in their location.
  2. A user visits a Facedeals location. All Facedeals locations have a Facedeals facial scanner that reads visitors’ faces, matching them with the images already in their online Facebook profile. When it finds a Facedeal subscribee, it matches their data to their image and their current location.
  3. The app then automatically checks the user into the Facedeal location and sends that individual a deal for a discount, freebie, or other business offered incentive.

 

the era of the overshare?

Once users agree to become a part of the Facedeal sharing experience, they agree to automatically share their location with their entire network of friends. This is great news for businesses, but are the discounts enough of an incentive for users to opt-in to automated, social network tracking and sharing?

Advocates of Facedeals argue that the app makes check-ins more valuable for users, as well as businesses. “A search for businesses with active [check-in] deals in our area turned up a measly six offers. The odds we’ll ever be at one of those six spots are low…. So we set out to evolve the check-in and sweeten the deal, making both irresistible,” Red Pepper explains on their blog.

The reasoning is valid. Even with extensive research, which often proves costly, predicting what deals will and won’t draw customers proves trying for small, medium, and even large-sized businesses. Facedeals simplifies the process by searching information that allows businesses to cater to users’ already specified preferences.

However, others argue that not everyone wants their every location tracked. Stalking concerns at a minimum, not every Facebook user is likely to want their friends, family, and coworkers to be aware of their patronage choices 24/7. Mom probably doesn’t want to know how often you visit bars; your coworkers might get upset to know that you’re blowing off work for a staycation at dives around town; and on, and on, and on.

Where do you stand on the debate? Get online to (ironically) share your opinion on high-tech convenience marketing apps like these with us now.

Let us know – are tools like Facedeals on the right track? Or, do they go too far?

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