Loopt goes after check-in competitors with Loopt Star

Loopt is going check-in services like Foursquare and Gowalla with its Loopt Star iPhone application but it has two things that could help it stand out: strong Facebook integration and real rewards.

My main beef with something like Foursquare is that you have to build up your connections from scratch and most of these services are inevitably filled with tech hipsters who may not be your real friends. Loopt is utilizing Facebook Connect for its app, so the world’s largest social network will do the heavy lifting in terms of your social graph while Loopt concentrates on delivering a solid location-based service. You can still use the app without publishing to Facebook, so don’t worry about privacy too much.

Another beef with the check-in services is that I don’t really care that much about being the “mayor” or “boss” or “head honcho” of a venue unless it gets me something. Sure, there’s a little bit of fun dislodging others but I’m a grown man – I tend to only do things that make me money or make me happy. Loopt has this part locked down as it is coming out of the gates with some strong, real-world rewards. For example, if you check in to The Gap two times you receive an instant 25% discount. That’s a sizable discount and the company also has deals with Burger King, Stanford University, Universal Music Group, and more partnerships will be coming in the future.

For brands and retailers, Loopt offers a platform that is highly customizable. For example, you can adjust the reward based on location, time of day, which rewards go to the user’s Facebook stream, and other features that could help establish a stronger connection with the user. You will be able to battle other people to be the “Boss” of a location and there’s the expected leader board, as well.

“Hyper-local advertising should be about much more than simply clicking on a banner ad — it should be about connecting with brands and getting rewarded for loyalty. Brands want to turn their existing customers into better ones,” said Sam Altman, co-founder and CEO of Loopt, in a prepared statement. “Loopt Star enables brands to create customized campaigns that reach their customers in a completely targeted, interactive way that rewards the behaviors they want.”

I understand that some retailers also offer rewards for being the “mayor” in Foursquare but I’m already more impressed with the deals Loopt has secured. This will be a fun space to watch, as we all know location-based services are coming in a big way.

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