[Interview] Foursquare, Two Years Later. What Has Changed and Why.

Home  /  Géolocalisation  /  [Interview] Foursquare, Two Years Later. What Has Changed and Why.

[Interview] Foursquare, Two Years Later. What Has Changed and Why.

Foursquare has been making the headlines…

$50M investment…

Data, the holy grail…

Microsoft in the picture

Swarm, the new saviour

Long time fan of location-based marketing, I went to the source to decrypt and analyze.  Aaron Strout, Managing Director at W2O Group (named Digital & Specialist Agency of the Year) and location-based marketing expert, tells all. Let’s understand the changes that have come into play since our last chat in 2012 and the rationale behind Foursquare’s decisions, both from the advertiser and the consumer standpoint. 


Hi Aaron, Nice of you to offer your insight on a topic that we’re both passionate about.

First off, how would you say the location marketing landscape has changed in the last couple of years?

AS – Location is becoming a more passive activity and more ubiquitous. Just look at Facebook wanting to know user location through statuses and photos, tracking them without user intervention.

When we talked about the potential for businesses back in 2012, you mentioned large groups who were tapping into the power of data that location apps provide, groups such as AMEX and Starbucks.  Has much changed since? Are we seeing a rise in businesses of all sizes deploying location strategies?

AS – Yes and no. Yes, many tap into Foursquare for its data potential. No, for engaging with customers directly on the location app. The reason being, I think, is that Foursquare had yet to provide proper training to businesses and this had an adverse effect on check-ins. [Excerpt from 2012 interview: If you don’t promote your brand offering on Foursquare, customers have no good reason to check-in. ]

The landscape has changed and Foursquare is adapting. Why? It’s all about the data. [They] have more data than any other app, other then Google and Facebook. As Google is making money on connecting people searching for things with advertisers who want to be discovered, Foursquare is aiming to do just that: advertising to consumers a ton more [Recent expansion: from 2 to 6 ad products], investing in paid media and more infrastructure. The strategy is no longer check-in reliant. 

 It’s all about the data… Foursquare is 1M power users, 40M tips and 70M venues.

As Foursquare reinvents paid media based on location data and 50% of mobile users show local intent…are advertisers adapting?  

AS -The use of paid media is what gives marketers skill, and its use is changing.  Take paid Facebook or paid Twitter for instance, it puts the burden on advertisers (and marketers) on making content interesting. They’re starting Set of round 3D transport pointersto understand the importance of mobile. 40% of Youtube watching is on mobile device.  Advertisers are realizing people are spending more time on devices. More traditional users are using tablets and are digesting new content, a lot of commerce transits on tablets. Marketers are starting  to ship their paid efforts in there but they need the ability to be relevant to gain watch time and sharing. They are making more digestible content in the mobile space. Marketers can start to get better at localized marketing on you tube – nuancing  with the analytics and creating multiple versions of the same. You need a team that can do a number of permutations – 10-20 versions to outline enough similarities among the audiences.

Advertisers are making more digestible content in the mobile space.

On May 15, Foursquare launched Swarm, an app that let’s you see who of your friends are out nearby and who wants to hang out later, without having to check-in. Why the Launch of Swarm? 

AS – Foursquare did not want to cut out their base.  Swarm wants to keep the 1M Foursquare active users engaged, to facilitate ongoing data creation (new places, new reviews, keeping places active) and to continue to be relevant to these folks, while not interrupting the gaming experience.

What does Foursquare do with this data?

AS –  They inform advertisers who want discrete cuts on what users do, where they go. They have additional info no one else can provide. The more targeted the data, the more powerful you are.

In closing, more has happened in 10 months than in 5 years. Foursquare is slowly letting go of the check-in feature, Microsoft now has stakes in the company…Is Foursquare showing signs of fatigue?

AS: [Foursquare] is reinventing itself. They’re either going to make it or break it. If they can successfully pivot to this paid advertising model, they’ll be around for a long time.

Thank you, Aaron. Always a pleasure. Let’s not wait two years until our next update!

Everyone,  please let us know what you think. Anything you wish to ad or another perspective to share? Right here in the comment box. Thanks.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.