You’re trudging through downtown Calgary with a friend, bored out of your minds.
Suddenly, an alert comes through you phone offering free appetizers at a restaurant just down the road.
This type of real-time, geography-focused marketing is soon to be a reality, as creators of a new app called TikTok plan to expand into the local market by month’s end.
The service works as a middle-man of sorts between businesses looking to draw people and customers always up for a good deal.
Consumers sign on and decide how much information they are willing to provide TikTok — information such as gender, age and interests will help determine which deal alerts you receive.
Businesses, meanwhile, are able to specify the type of deal, a geographical radius for the offering and the type of consumer they wish to target.
“Really, it’s a win-win for everyone,” explained creator Dorian Banks. “It’s all spontaneous. It’s very short-term, they (the deals) last for anywhere from 1-12 hours.”
Where deal-of-the-day websites tend to offer services at a reduced fee through an online gift card, TikTok focuses more on offering a product or service for free, Banks said, and then relying on consumers to buy more and return in the future.
The app launched in Vancouver last month and 150 businesses have already signed on with deals being offered to 6,000 registered users.
“In Vancouver, we have already seen people come into a restaurant for a free thing but stay for a whole meal,” Banks said.
Businesses registered with TikTok can send out two general advertisements each week free of charge. Charges in $40-50 increments come into effect for those wanting to send additional ads or target specific demographics.
The app is available for both iPhone and Android users.
Promotional use of technology comes with pros and cons: Prof
Businesses will see benefit in the services offered by TikTok and similar creations, but consumers need to exercise caution when offering up personal information, says a Calgary marketing expert.
Debi Andrus, an assistant professor with the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, said some people are turned off when it comes to sharing locations and personal characteristics over fears the information will be shared with advertisers.
“We have to be very cognizant of who has our information,” she said. “We are seeing this type of web crawling happening more and more.”
TikTok founder Dorian Banks maintains that his app protects the information of consumers and only utilizes the details they are willing to share.