With 1.5 million businesses claiming their locations on Foursquare, the site has always given marketers the ability to connect with their customers when they were actually in the store. Now, small businesses owners can run ads across the Foursquare network thanks to the introduction of their self-serve ad platform.
Having introduced ads earlier this summer with a smaller group of beta testers, today’s widespread opening follows a pattern of other “niche” social networks like Pinterest and Instagram who both announced ads on their sites in recent weeks.
So how do Foursquare ads work?
Create your ad.
Foursquare ads give you the option to create your own message and upload a photo, or to use a tip from one of your patrons. Promoting tips can be great if your particular region is especially connected to Foursquare and has a lot of active users.
Pay for actions.
You only pay if someone acts on your ad – either by tapping to see your business details or by checking in at your business. Currently there’s a $50 minimum ad spend (but right now American Express is offering a free $50 credit for new ads).
Set and launch.
Foursquare doesn’t offer targeting like Facebook and Twitter, instead are served based on two factors: whether a person is near your business, and if they are likely to become a customer.
Monitor and optimize.
Foursquare has an analytics dashboard where can monitor how many people have viewed their ad, how many have tapped on it, and how many actually came into their store afterwards.
You’re probably asking yourself right about now “Nick, if there’s no targeting for ads, how does Foursquare know who is likely to become my customer?”
According to the Foursquare site, they’re using the check-in data gathered from their millions of check-ins Foursquare believes they know if someone is likely to become a customer based on where they’ve checked in previously or because they’re searching for something related to your business (for instance, ‘pizza’ if you’re a pizza parlor).
Historically Foursquare experimented with different forms of advertising by leveraging larger brands to create unique experiences on the site, including check-in deals, sponsored badges, customizable brand pages and exclusive events like Pepsi Max’s Big Boi Golden Ticket campaign at SXSW. This widespread introduction of Foursquare display ads establishes a true advertising platform to rival sites like Twitter and Facebook who have aggressively pushing mobile ad products to marketers of all shapes and sizes.
I for one am a big fan of Foursquare and believe that it will continue to maintain a place as a discovery engine for people looking for new places to explore o the go. The addition of ads can now help smart marketers figure out great ways to make their messaging stand out while people are literally standing outside.