Foursquare has reportedly decided to make its data available to third parties for ad targeting purposes. This news follows last week’s announcement that the company received access to $41 million more in new funding.
This announcement came as something of a surprise to many who believed that Foursquare had essentially stalled.
AdAge reported that Foursquare location and behavioral data (e.g., Check-ins) would be made available to ad exchanges and third-party ad networks for additional “context” and ad-targeting purposes. The article quotes CEO Dennis Crowley saying that the company is seeking to become “the location layer for the Internet.”
Foursquare has more than 30 million users globally and one million businesses using its merchant platform. The company also reported more than 3.5 billion check-ins.
In offering its check-in and location data to the broader Internet, the company would join a number of other data providers that make available similar information (though not check-ins). Indeed, location data is readily available to ad networks and exchanges; however, the precision or accuracy of that data is often in question.
The ability to connect ad exposures online to in-store check-ins or simple “presence” would also be highly valuable data. Foursquare, with some effort, might be able to get involved in those sorts of analytics on behalf of brands and retailers. The company could also get involved with “real world retargeting,” not unlike FBX, but closer to the point of sale.
Making its data available to ad exchanges will not be enough to “move the needle” for Foursquare. In addition, the company will need to develop a more compelling offering for SMBs, which is tough, and attract more national-local ad dollars (retailers, franchises, multi-location businesses).
Certainly, all of that is within the realm of possibility.