The location world is bigger than just Foursquare and Facebook. And on Black Friday, Coca-Cola is kicking off a campaign with up-and-coming location-based gaming app SCVNGR.
SCVNGR is a smartphone app that lets users earn points and rewards by completing challenges in the real world.
Coke is using the system in 10 malls nationwide, where visitors will be greeted with signs inviting them to play SCVNGR as part of the brand's "Secret Formula Challenges" initiative. Folks can earn points toward rewards by accomplishing tasks like taking photos of Coke cans. Prizes range from bottle openers to gift cards.
The move signifies that brands are looking beyond the big-name players to find partners for location-based promotions. Just this week, Disney struck a deal with Gowalla. Stickybits, a location technology for scanning product bar codes, relaunched with a raft of deals from companies like Ben & Jerry's.
Coke's choice of SCVNGR, which has 500,000 users, for its biggest foray into location services -- it had previously done a small test with Stickybits -- was no doubt facilitated by the tight relationship between Foursquare and Pepsi. Foursquare helped Pepsi construct its Loot location app, and it has linked with Safeway on a rewards system.
SCVNGR founder Seth Priebatsch said the service aims to differentiate itself from Foursquare by focusing on the gaming aspect. Its aim is "to build the game layer on top of the world," he said, adding: "You use Foursquare, Gowalla and Twitter. You do not use SCVNGR -- you play it."
To do so, SCVNGR's system goes beyond allowing users to share their location information. It lets venues set challenges for visitors in order to earn points -- from checking in to snapping a photo and various social activities. (One example from the company is a burrito shop challenging users to create an origami sculpture out of burrito wrappers.)
The Smithsonian is using SCVNGR to encourage users to explore different exhibits. At the Natural History Museum, one challenge is to find the tyrannosaurus rex and count its teeth. SCVNGR also works with retailers like CitySports and Gamestop.