I was looking at some old college stuff and came across an old Stanford directory from my undergraduate days. Aside from the heft of the book itself, I had forgotten how many local ads (coupons) there were in my college directory. There were pages and pages of coupons from local businesses who wanted to get Stanford student foot traffic in the door. I also came across an old flier for the Student Advantage card which I don’t believe is actively marketed these days. I also remember reading an old post about how Facebook did a deal with Chase to be the exclusive credit card provider/advertiser on Facebook.
I personally don’t find rewards cards very compelling, but I have been wondering if Facebook could become a real player in the local ads market. My thesis goes something like this:
1. Every college town has a bunch of businesses who rely on the local student community to keep their businesses afloat.
2. In almost every case, those businesses spend advertising dollars to reach students. Most of these offers include some opportunity to save money or get something free.
3. Students like free stuff and some portion of those coupons get used. It must be worthwhile for these advertisers because they keep printing coupons. As a student, toting around a paper coupon or some other piece of non-credit plastic is kind of a pain.
Well, I’d wager that college students don’t use paper directories very much anymore. But they sure do use Facebook. So why not create a Facebook credit card where users could “load” advertisements on their cards for future use? Then get local advertisers to run fliers or some other kind of advertisement on the site that would make it very easy for users to load those coupons on a Facebook-branded credit card. Those coupons could be loaded on the card in the background and students could have the discounts applied either at the register or in some batch fashion after the fact. Sure it would take some work, but I think the work would be worth it.
There are a lot of colleges and college towns out there. Even if you don’t go to that level of technical integration, there ought to be many opportunities for local businesses to advertise on Facebook provided the existing Microsoft relationship doesn’t preclude such activity. Anything from a happy hour to a discount to a deal would be interesting, I imagine. It seems to me like this is a rather untapped opportunity.