Facebook has rolled out its location-based promotions service Deals to the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Users of the Facebook for iPhone and Androids apps and the mobile site can access special discounts and charity donations in exchange for a check-in in via Facebook Places that spreads a brand’s name in their stream.
Some are criticizing the low value of the initial U.K. promotions, but launch partner brands including Mazda, Starbucks and 02 are merely being conservative while they determine the return Deals can generate.
The international expansion of Deals is following a similar path as Places, which it’s built upon. The U.K. was the second country outside the U.S. to gain Places access, followed shortly by France and Italy. Facebook has so far skipped launching Deals in Canada, Japan, and Australia, which were other countries which received Places relatively early. These could be among the next countries to get Deals.
Facebook has been releasing Places and Deals in nations with a high penetration of smart phones. Having a large user base with mobile devices that can easily access the features is important to achieving a critical mass necessary to successful launch. Like many Facebook features, Places and Deals work best when friends are using them too, so Facebook needs to time the launches with when a country’s users are prepared to adopt them.
Deals has gotten off to a relatively slow start, without many businesses offering on-going promotions. Instead they’ve been offering Deals in limited quantities that are often quickly exhausted. As Places and Deals expands to more devices and countries, brands will likely expand their promotional offerings to more persuasively and consistently incentivize the cheap, high-quality exposure check-ins produce.