The Late-Night Eating Wars: College Edition

Back-to-college is in full swing and Foursquare and Mapbox are showing the most popular places students are gravitating to after midnight.

While quick service restaurant chains continue to battle it out over “all-day breakfast” menus, around colleges, the main food fight among national and local outlets is centered on late-night dining.

Foursquare is offering its marketers and consumers a look at where the most visited eateries are during the post-midnight hour by 17-to-25-years-old in the vicinity of colleges and university locations.

The location discovery app’s Late-Night College Eats features a portal that lets anyone search for restaurants near 58 schools, including the top 50 colleges as ranked by US News and World Report as well as those listed in the Princeton Review.

“To identify the most popular late-night spots, we looked at where people age 17–25 visited near specific college campuses by selecting a radius around the school based on location (the radius around a city school is larger than that of a college town that has a more centralized campus),” writes Foursquare editor Sarah Spagnolo in a blog post on Medium. “Visits include both implicit visits from Foursquare and check-ins from Swarm. Only venues with a minimum qualifying number of visits within the last academic calendar year were included, and no more than 10 venues were included per school (some schools have fewer).”

Foursquare’s data could be particularly helpful to smaller, independent shops catering to students, as most attribution specialists tend to look more broadly at the national chains.

For example, location marketplace xAd recently noted that Jack In The Box’s promotion of its not-very-subtle “Munchie Meal” was helping it outpace McDonald’s, Burger King, and others during the late shift.

Still, Foursquare’s Late-Night College Eats portal, which includes a map created with street diagram design subscription service Mapbox, offers all marketers important clues about how to target their mobile ads, Steven Rosenblatt, Foursquare’s president, tells GeoMarketing.

“Our interactive map isn’t just a fun way for college students to see which spots made the cut, but serves as a tool for marketers to understand what types of venues are resonating with 17-25 year-olds after midnight,” Rosenblatt says. “Marketers can use our map to determine local competition and devise advertising strategies to win over these late night consumers.”

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.