Foursquare is in the process of monetization, albeit early in the process. Back in July, the company launched "Promoted Updates," which amounted to the first-ever ads on the app. They are pay-per-click ads that pop up as users browse locations in the explore tab. Looking at nearby locations? Why not go to this particular Lowe's, "because you've been to other locations," says the promoted update.
But the advertising on Foursquare must move above and beyond these basic promoted search results, and on to a place that tackles the real heart of what Foursquare wants to do. The focus of Foursquare's app has been moving toward discovery recently, and although promoted updates work within that narrative, targeted discounts are a way to provide something for the advertiser, the user, and for Foursquare's bottom line.
And that's the direction they're moving. To be fair, many of the promoted results that Foursquare is currently testing with certain retailers do contain deals within them. But the targeting has to be super precise, with discounts finding the exact right user at the right time. According to PandoDaily, Foursquare CEO dennis Crowley said so much at an event in New York this week. Foursquare is looking to market "specific discounts for specific customers."
And he says Foursquare is ready:
"There was no reason to do it in 2009. We had nothing to sell… Now is the appropriate time to do it, because the product’s ready.”
He also commented on their individual user strategy, and making the most out of a smaller number of users:
"You can build a big business making a lot of money off each user, not just amassing more users and showing dumb banner ads," he said.
Although Foursquare's ad product is currently in its infancy, the company wants to be able to allows businesses to target specific groups of users with discounts up to 20%, according to PandoDaily.
Foursquare has been moving "beyond the check-in" for some time now, by unveiling their explore tab and focusing on serving as a local search engine for locations. In my mind, Foursquare's biggest potential always sat as some sort of hybrid between check-ins, local search, gamification, and yes, daily-deals type discounts.
What do you think?