The world wide web knows where we wander. Well those of us that “check-in” that is.

Geography is suddenly cool. And it makes sense because we often use the web to find things – think search engines. Once we have found what we are looking for, in many cases we then hop in the car, plane or train and actually go there whether it is a holiday, a movie or a business.

Take for example Google Maps – the maps that come up at the top of Google when you type in a city or suburb. This is a great way for your customers to find your business. (Talk to us if your business isn’t coming up!) But have you heard of Four Square and Facebook Places? Both of these let people share their whereabouts with their friends so they can meet up with friends or learn about new places. Both services call it “checking-in”.

Using your mobile phone, you can check into cafes, bars, parks, shops – just about anywhere. So as a business these new apps provide an innovative geographically-relevant advertising opportunity. Imagine when someone checks into a nearby place, they see an ad for your business… that is exactly what Four Square offers.

For example, say I check in to Runaway Bay Shopping Centre… a little note might pop up saying “Nearby Special”. When I click on that, I would see an ad for a local Runaway Bay business, like a café. That business knows I am in the area and that I am more likely stop at their café for lunch having read their ad. Targeted? Yes. Relevant? Almost certainly. Clever? Definitely.

The power of this kind of advertising is undeniable. Imagine knowing which of your customers visits your retail shop the most often. To continue the café example, you could offer that person a free coffee because you have seen their photo on your business’s profile page. If you have a retail business of any kind, jump onto Four Square and check out your profile. You can see any tips that users are leaving about your business and you may be able to tell who your most frequent customer is (they will be shown as the “mayor” of your business.)

Facebook Places isn’t offering advertising yet… but no doubt once there is enough of us “checking-in” they won’t pass up the revenue opportunity!