The location based social networking site Foursquare, aims to launch a paid-media platform in mid-June and is pitching brands to become launch partners.
The product will let merchants promote a deal to check in at a given area through its existing merchant platform, which allows businesses to claim their Foursquare listings. When users search for local specials, they can see offers via paid ads on Foursquare. Those ads will be targeted using the same algorithms that power “explore,” which recommends establishments based on a users’ past check-ins, as well as those of friends and the wider Foursquare user base.
Launched in 2009 at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, Foursquare enables users to share their location with friends by “checking in” via a smartphone app or by text message. Points are awarded for checking in at various venues. Users can connect their Foursquare accounts to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, which can update when a check in is registered. By checking in a certain number of times, or in different locations, users can collect virtual badges. In addition, users who have checked in the most times at a certain venue will be crowned “Mayor” until someone surpasses their number. Various venues have embraced Foursquare, and offer special deals to users who are “mayors”. Foursquare became an eager partner of brands such as Pepsi, Tasti D-Lite, Bravo and Starbucks. It was a markedly different strategy from other social-media starlets like Twitter and Tumblr that steered clear of brands in their early days. The startup, which recently topped 20 million users, has been using those early partnerships as an opportunity to test and learn as it gradually maps out an ad strategy.