Discounts offered in Facebook check-in ‘Deals’

NEW YORK (AP) – If you use Facebook to “check in” to your favorite restaurants or shops, you can now expect to see rewards and discounts from companies looking to drum up business and lure in loyal customers.

Facebook is looking to bridge online advertising with people’s offline behavior as it announced a service called “Deals.” It’s an extension of Places, the check-in feature the company unveiled this year. Rising with the explosive growth of smart phones, services based on people’s location help them find coupons, earn quirky merit badges or simply share with friends where they are.

The number of people using such services is still small – just 4 percent of the U.S. Internet population have ever used it and just 1 percent on any given day, according to a survey released Thursday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

But it’s growing, and businesses ranging from small mom-and-pop stores to national chains are starting to take notice.

Facebook said Wednesday it is launching a test version of Deals with 23 companies, including the Gap, 24 Hour Fitness, North Face and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a small theater chain that serves food and drinks along with movies.

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