Foursquare Rolls Out the First-ever Promotion Products for Merchants

Foursquare has launched its first paid advertising service for merchants, the ‘Promoted Updates.’ While other popular social media have been offering similar products for some time—Twitter since last December and Google+ since November, Foursquare stayed free from ads.

Photo: the Fousquare Explore feature with promoted updates,

Last week, the check-in platform launched an option for brands to show off their special offerings to their ‘best customers’ when they are close to their store location when they’re nearby. ‘Best customers’ who are people that check in frequently can get discounts. This week businesses can already target the messages to all users. The brands that are currently testing the service are Gap, Old Navy, Hilton, JC Penney, Best Buy and Walgreens, as well as some smaller businesses.

The rest of 1 million merchants registered on Foursquare will be able to advertise next month, according to Ad Age. The pricing is not publicly unveiled yet, thought it’s known that enterprises will be charged on a cost-per-action model and not by impression volume.

Not all Foursquare users will see an ad if they open Explore. Noah Weiss, the Foursquare product manager who oversees merchant-facing tools told Ad Age that “Promoted Updates are still being served to users based on relevancy”. 

«We think about these as Google search ads for real world places, so the relevancy is really important,» explained Weiss.

‘Promoted Updates’ is a good chance for brands to reach their customers who miss its ads in other media. For example, Macy’s will be testing the service offering national Labor Day specialties targeting mostly female millennials.

The number of the Foursquare users is not small—it’s 20 million but the company doesn’t unveil how many of them are actively using the Explore feature, through which the new promotion service is available. Explore feature help people decide where to go based on their location offering the near-by venues and stores. Foursquare only says that “use of Explore has more than doubled since the redesign went live.”