Check-ins With A Commercial Twist

Rewards given for retail visits

A new commercial check-in mobile ad product is now available to retailers. SessionM, a Boston-based digital ad firm, developed the offering for its hundreds of clients with apps, which are now able to push rewards to consumers' smartphones.

Consumers are notified of deals that can be redeemed by checking in at stores. The service works by sending messages to smartphones for brands to alert consumers about where they can buy a product, such as Leap Motion pinging users with a promotion at a nearby Best Buy. The service, called mPLACES, was built accessing Foursquare's data, which is open to developers.

Foursquare, the New York City-based social network, pioneered the check-in, encouraging people to notify friends of their whereabouts.

Foursquare has since moved beyond the check-in, and has focused its platform on discovery and exploration. Still, for developers, its free mapping data can be used in commercial applications like the one built by SessionM. Google Maps is an expensive alternative, SessionM said.

Encouraging check-ins at retailers and giving rewards for doing so proved effective during tests in November, SessionM said. The firm said that in 70 percent of test cases, users made a purchase after checking in with mPLACES.

"For brands and retailers, we’re proving we can influence consumer loyalty and shopping behavior," said Bill Clifford, chief revenue officer, in an announcement today.