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Foursquare’s New Location Analytics Part of the Attribution Revolution

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Not long ago Foursquare was written off by many as an also-ran. However the company’s pivot to location intelligence and audience targeting has revived its fortunes. And yesterday Foursquare introduced a new product for marketers called “Attribution.”

Attribution measures the impact of digital and traditional advertising on foot traffic and store visits. Foursquare President Stephen Rosenblatt announced the new product in a blog post yesterday about Super Bowl advertisers and the offline impact of their ads.

Many other companies, including Google, Facebook, PlaceIQ, Placed, xAd, YP, Factual, NinthDecimal, ThinkNear and others are measuring offline/location visits. Methodologies and accuracy levels vary somewhat but at 30,000 feet differentiating this growing list of companies is challenging.

Foursquare says its Attribution product is different for two primary reasons. Here’s the company’s verbatim statement:

  • Unparalleled Scale and Accuracy: Foursquare’s proprietary Pilgrim technology senses when phones in our foot
    traffic panel enter any of our 65 million locations, gathering over 1 billion place visits each month.
  • Rigorous and Real-Time Analysis: Our first-party data is measured with a refined control/exposed methodology so partners can make adjustments mid-campaign. Reports can be generated daily

The basis of Foursquare’s claim to having greater scale and better accuracy is tied directly to its two apps. Foursquare asserts that its app-based data are more accurate than its competitors, many of which rely on third party ad requests and dubious location data (get any of Foursquare’s competitors on the phone and they’ll dispute that).

The paradox of Foursquare’s evolution is that even as the continued vitality of the company’s apps are essential to its success as a location intelligence and advertising platform, the new model takes pressure off the consumer-facing side of Foursquare’s business.

When it was competing directly with Yelp and Google in local search and seeking to sell ads to SMBs it was fighting an extremely challenging uphill battle. Now that it doesn’t need to sell SMB advertising it can take a more relaxed and long-term approach to evolving its consumer business and app experiences. It can even take bolder risks and develop new apps.

As a result, the company now has a longer runway that makes a sale/acquisition unnecessary or less necessary. Indeed, the company probably has a renewed shot at going public if it should ultimately chooses to do so.

At LSA16, you’ll hear Facebook, Google, Foursquare, xAd and YP discuss online-to-offline analytics and what they mean for the market. We’re in the midst of an attribution revolution that all parties in the local ecosystem need to understand. If you haven’t yet registered for LSA16, click here.

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