In the same way that a business can pay to promote one of their tweets to the top of a user's stream on Twitter, they'll soon be able to promote their location within Foursquare as well.
Check-in king Foursquare has just unveiled "Promoted Updates," which are basically the first-ever paid ads to appear on the service.
Promoted Updates are pretty straightforward. They are pay-per-click ads that will appear when Foursquare users are browsing locations in the "Explore" tab. Last month, Foursquare unveiled a huge update to their app that improved the Explore tab to include better recommendations, specials, and friend activity.
Now, when you search for "Shopping" near a location, you may see on of the Promoted Updates at the top.
As you can see, they will be clearly marked as "Promoted" and will still be able to include information like specials and recent friend activity.
Promoted Updates are currently just in a "pilot period," which includes only twenty businesses like Best Buy, Old Navy, and Walgreens to start.
“Anything that shows up [as a Promoted Update] is using all the algorithms and magic that power Explore,” Foursquare product manager Noah Weiss told VentureBeat. “We’re recommending you businesses. This isn’t a display ad for an upcoming summer movie. This is: ‘hey, we think you might really want to go to Hertz because you just landed at the airport.’”
Of course, an ad by any other name...
But Foursquare had to make a move toward monetization. And for businesses who see the possible benefit of being that top result when people use Foursquare Explore, Promoted Updates have been a long time coming.