Foursquare Unveils Places API, Expands Location Data Services To Startup Apps And SMBs

"Places API for Start-Ups, which opens our industry-leading technology to small- to medium-sized companies with commercial use cases, at an affordable price point," says Foursquare VP Peter Krasniqi.

It’s long past the point since startups and SMBs expect access to the same level of data and location intelligence that enterprises routinely have, so Foursquare is opening up its API further to capture that demand for online-to-offline analytics.

Over the past three years, Foursquare has concentrated heavily on repositioning itself from a consumer-facing “social check-in” app developer to a platform company creating a range of location-based enterprise solutions for major brands, agencies, and tech companies.

The introduction of Foursquare’s “Places API for Start-Ups” is aimed specifically towards start-ups and SMBs, with the promise that “they can leverage our location data in their apps and services without paying the same price as our enterprise partners,” says Peter Krasniqi, VP, Global Sales Strategy & Operations.

The Places API product is positioned between Foursquare’s Enterprise tier for large-scale players and its free tiers for non-commercial developers.

“Places API for Start-Ups, which opens our industry-leading technology to small- to medium-sized companies with commercial use cases, at an affordable price point,”  Krasniqi says.

In terms of “affordability,” developers from mid-sized companies can access 900 categories and 80 place-based attributes to promote the contextual relevance and local content of their business starting at $599-per-month, though that price will also depend on the amount of usage.

Additionally, Foursquare will continue to offer free access to its API for non-commercial partners that make fewer than 100,000 daily API calls.

Some of the capabilities Places API is providing to the middle tier of partners Foursquare is hoping to land include:

  • Integrating Foursquare’s global venue database, which is based on 12 billion check-ins. Brands signing up for Places API can add photos, tips, and reviews to provide users with a complete picture of a destination.
  • Layer in location search, details on venues, and location sharing, connecting your product to what’s happening in the real-world.
  • Add “unlimited” descriptive place attributes to promote Digital Knowledge Management, which means that not only can you enrich an app experience by adding in more than 105M places around the globe, each can be described with specific details, such as “live music” or “accepts credit cards.”
  • Harness the power of Foursquare’s Snap-to-Place technology to accurately identify where your users are located in real time, create magical contextual experiences, and provide relevant recommendations to your users.

“This means that an entire new network of apps and services can now benefit from Foursquare’s innovative location tech: whether that’s awareness and insights into places nearby; details on more than 105M coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and the like; photos; and more,” Krasniqi says.

Capturing Local Demand

The move comes as other location tech players expand services geared toward SMBs and smaller entities.

For example, last month Waze Local emerged out of beta,  which represented the opening up of its advertising platform to SMBs as the Google-owned, crowdsourced driving navigation app sought to capture the growing digital marketing spending at the neighborhood-level.

For example, in March 2017, Foursquare expanded the use of its location analytics outside of its own two apps, the eponymous flagship which promotes “discovery” and its Swarm check-in app. Foursquare struck licensing deals for its Pilgrim SDK to platforms that want to use the same tools to promote discovery within their branded apps.

It’s the ability to connect digital marketing to in-store attribution and traffic that has helped Foursquare continue to bring in new business while raising its own profile as a data insights provider. It’s struck notable deals powering the location data of digital publishers like Pandora and Snapchat along with advertisers like tequila brand Patron, as well as powering location services for Apple, Uber, Twitter, Snap, Samsung, Microsoft, and others.

Lining Up Launch Partners

Foursquare has lined up a number of smaller, hyperlocal partners with the launch of Places API, including:

  • Gyroscope, the life tracking app that helps you keep a log of everything from weight loss to productivity
  • Camera Eats First, an app that helps users search for individual dishes, not just restaurant names
  • Spendee, an app that helps consumers analyze their income and spending, we’re providing access to our POI database so users can more easily identify their transactions
  • Slice, an app that supports 9,000+ independent pizzerias by allowing consumers to order online from their favorite local shops

Gyroscope has been using Places API to help users keep a map of everywhere they go.

“Many of our users rely on Gyroscope to track their travels all around the world, and the Foursquare database has been perfect for letting them capture the details of all the places they’ve been,” said Anand Sharma, founder, Gyroscope. “The high quality of the metadata, place names and categories lets us develop a great in-app experience, and offer more analytics on top of that history, which we hadn’t been able to do before.”

For Slice, its plan is to use Foursquare ratings data to as a clearer guide for its users when trying to find the best spot to order pizza from. “Foursquare has spent years developing a one-of-a-kind rating system that is trusted by millions of users for its accuracy and reliability, which is why Foursquare is the obvious right partner,” said Kenny Herman, EVP of strategy for Slice.

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.