Facebook Ups The Ante

Advertising age is reporting that Facebook is on the verge of rolling out location-based features for users and brands as soon as soon as this month.

If the rumors are true, this could mean the end of Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, Loopt, etc. With 400+ million users, Facebook is the king of the social media kingdom and slowly but sure, it appears that they are taking over, fiefdom by fiefdom.

According to the article, the geo-based features will include the ability to check in at various locations, including retail spots and restaurants. Other features aren't clear yet, but whatever they are, Facebook has the user-base to make this gain adoption quickly. This probably rings true mostly because the overlap of Facebook users to Foursquare/Gowalla/Brightkite/Loopt users has got to be small, as location-based services are primarily used by early adopters.

The first brand to embrace the features is reported to be McDonalds, which will involve users checking in at restaurants and showing featured food items in their posts.

Just imagine the advertising and marketing opportunities that can be built around this functionality.

From a social dominance perspective, think about the head to head battle this creates between Facebook and Google for local ad money.

Social media is all about localizing content and making it relevant to a specific set of users. This location-based functionality helps marketers drill down to the region, the brand and even the product. 

Add that reality to the demographics that Facebook already pulls (age, sex, occupation, etc.) and you can't get any more targeted in terms of advertising demographics than that.

It'll be interesting how this plays out, not only with popular location-based social apps, but also how the move positions Facebook against the Goliath that is Google. 

Article first appeared on Technorati.com