Foursquare is now going public about its moves over the past year to sell its location data and deliver ads across the web and on mobile devices.
Foursquare is selling the ads directly via its 30-person national sales team, buying on the ad exchanges via Turn and then selling to brands and agencies on a CPM basis and pocketing the difference.
Foursquare’s location data — captured by check-ins at restaurants, gyms, grocery stores, movie theaters and on and on — allows it to retarget ads to tailored audience segments based on their interests when they are browsing other mobile apps and websites. The Turn ad exchange includes network partners such as Facebook Exchange, OpenX, AdMeld and DoubleClick.
Rosenblatt tells AdAge that Foursquare’s location data should set it apart in programmatic buying. “Everyone’s got the same commoditized data sources,” he said. “[They're] getting the same data from Acxiom and Experian and the same publishers over and over, and I think there’s some fatigue in the market.”
He makes a good point. The question some are asking is whether Foursquare has the scale needed to make programmatic sustainable. Because, for now at least, the location data is based on check-ins only. Scale is dependent on active users. Foursquare claimed to have 45 million registered users in December 2013, but has not shared active user numbers.