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The Privacy Triple Play: Digital Giftcards Using Facebook Data And Geolocation

Written by Evan Schuman
May 2nd, 2012

The challenge of giftcards has always been getting customers to remember them when they’re actually near the store where they can be used. With that goal in mind, a giftcard service—working with Gap and Sephora—is trying for a marketing triple play: mobile geolocation on top of Facebook data on top of customized giftcards. When a customer is near a retailer whose giftcard he/she has, it will loudly flag that fact to the customer.

Digital giftcards, by their very nature, address part of that forget-me-a-lot problem by taking giftcards out of the dresser drawer and placing them in the almost-always-ubiquitous smartphone. That’s hardly new. But the geolocation opt-in alerts are an interesting twist, especially when a consumer is walking in a city (locally or when traveling) and has no idea that a particular retailer has a store three blocks to the right. Or when that customer enters a mall with more than 100 stores.

Given that these are indeed giftcards, the retail brands may not be familiar to that consumer. As such, it could be a very helpful heads up.

The geolocation feature from Wrapp is planned for later this year, said the vendor’s Chief Technical Officer, Andreas Ehn. The comment was made in connection with the Swedish company’s move into the U.S., which was announced Monday (April 30). Gap and Sephora are among the initial retail partners.

But the mobile move is on top of a Facebook partnership that might be pushing the privacy line. The Wrapp program enables consumers to give a giftcard to anyone on their Facebook friends list.

After signing up, the customer can choose from a pull-down list of all their Facebook friends. Once a friend is selected, Wrapp displays a list of free giftcards—such as a $20 giftcard for Sephora. But the amount of that giftcard—and whether it is offered at all from that particular retailer—is based on three pieces of information that Facebook shares with Wrapp: the selceted friend’s age, gender and location. (Presumably, the name of the friend is already being displayed, along with whatever public data is available.)

Based on all that, Wrapp offers giftcards. Partners can set any rules they want. Gap, for example, might say, “We’ll offer 22-year-old women $30 giftcards. A 40-year-old woman will get a $5 giftcard, and a 70-year-old man won’t get anything. And if they happen to be in any one of these seven cities where we are opening new stores, double the amount offered.”

The gift-giver can then choose to sweeten the amount of the giftcard with a payment card.


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One Comment | Read The Privacy Triple Play: Digital Giftcards Using Facebook Data And Geolocation

  1. Thad Peterson Says:

    This is a really interesting idea that portends a really powerful trend toward linking publicly available personal information with transaction data to deliver perfectly relevant offers in the right place at the right time.

    Privacy will be an issue forever but my guess is that the power of relevance will overwhelm consumer concerns about privacy. After all, that’s what Facebook is all about.

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