Foursquare: The Name Of The Game Is Location Intelligence

Foursquare is rolling out a real-time dashboard for its four-month-old Attribution reporting tool as it adds Anheuser-Busch, Peet’s Coffee, Blue Bite, Undertone, Opera Mediaworks, Clearstream, Drawbridge, and TubeMogul as partners.

Four months after launching its online–to-offline ad effectiveness product, Foursquare Attribution, the location-focused app developer has signed on several major brands and agency partners while offering clients a real-time dashboard for self-serve management.

The new mix of brands, publishers, agencies and programmatic partners that have signed on to Foursquare Attribution includes Anheuser-Busch, Peet’s Coffee, Blue Bite, Undertone, Opera Mediaworks, Clearstream, Drawbridge and TubeMogul.

A Challenge To Panels, Bid Stream Data

Intended as a stand-alone, albeit complementary, product to its year-old location marketing platform, Pinpoint, Foursquare Attribution’s use of first-party geo-data was also meant as a clearer alternative to panel-based systems and bidstream data, which is impression-based, third-party analytics via programmatic channels.

The implicit critique of panels is that they rely on a relatively small subset of self-reported ad views by consumers who are “incentivized” to say whether they saw an ad or visited a location in return for receiving a coupon or other item that can be redeemed for tangible value. The problem with third party data is that it’s difficult to separate whether someone was inside a physical location or simply nearby.

With its new real-time client dashboard, Foursquare is also promising greater immediacy for its Attribution analytics. Whereas many reporting mechanisms can still take two weeks — an eternity in today’s automated online ad campaigns — Foursquare is offering daily place-based insights.

“Foursquare’s dataset has unparalleled breadth from over 50 million monthly active users of our own consumer apps/services, as well as data from over 100,000 other partner developers like Apple, Uber, Twitter, Microsoft and Samsung,” said Foursquare President Steven Rosenblatt, in a statement. “This organic visit data, which is not incentivized, offers a clear picture of daily consumer behavior.

“Coupled with the best-in-class accuracy of our stop detection technology, we are able to provide more granular and specific insights on a daily basis into where people go, the strongest possible indicator of intent behavior,” he added.

Among the specific details Foursquare Attribution clients will have access to:

  • Daily visits to stores
  • Incremental visits
  • Lift for a campaign
  • Return on ad spend
  • Incremental revenue
  • Number of impressions
  • Number of devices reached

Analytics Validation

As for insights on audience segments, marketers can glean information on geography, age groups, gender, customer loyalty, category, chain and “taste affinities.”

Foursquare’s analytics received a degree of validation in April, when, ahead of Chipotle’s earnings, it was able to accurately predicted that the troubled casual dining chain’s sales would be down by 30 percent in Q1.

In another example Foursquare presented with this announcement, it pointed to one unidentified retailer that found that the same ads were 15 percent more effective on one publisher than another, “giving them the ability to shift media dollars to the more effective partner,” Rosenblatt said. Another client, a fast casual restaurant, found that a mobile campaign was effective and necessary for reaching their goals to attract take-out customers during major fight nights.

“Attribution has become an essential tool for marketers to understand and optimize their influence on customers,” said Brian Mandelbaum, CEO of Clearstream. “We have created an advanced platform which can target with precision and deliver quality inventory at scale – and Attribution powered by Foursquare has definitively validated the effectiveness.”

As Rosenblatt describes the “bigger picture” in online and offline advertising today, the name of the game is location intelligence.

“From time to time, people are often impressed and a little surprised that a company like Foursquare—known for building mobile apps that help people go out and fun in the real world—would also be working on business and advertising solutions like Attribution. What many don’t realize is that the underlying foundation of everything we do is the same: meaningful location intelligence,” Rosenblatt said.

“Our technology is homegrown and consumer driven,” he continued. “We have spent the past seven and a half years developing our understanding of places, when they’re open, where people go, where people want to go, what places and tastes are trending, and all kinds of other deep, data-driven and location-based insights.”

Kill The Click?

Perhaps the true test of location analytics’ value and viability is whether it can transcend clickthrough rates as the primary pricing and measurement mechanism of digital ads versus methods the look to store visits and actual sales.

“There’s been a huge demand for a company to have an always-on, non-incentivized persistent view that really has a true measure of whether an ad drove someone to a place or not,” Rosenblatt told GeoMarketing. “Brands are demanding the ability to optimize daily and then have access to lookback windows. We provide a two-day to 30-day lookback window. Tools like Foursquare Attribution is going to move us from the ‘click’ and finally get us out of a click-based economy and into what does real-world measurement act like online as well as offline. This is all about connecting the online and offline world.”


About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.