Foursquare Will Tell Businesses When Their Ads Bring You Into An Actual Store

Foursquare announced a new product today that should help brick-and-mortar advertisers measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.

The company has already been expanding the ad side of the business, for example launching new ad targeting product last year and recently bringing on CEO Jeff Glueck to grow its enterprise tools.

Now, with Attribution Powered by Foursquare, the company is making its data available to advertisers even if they don’t run campaigns in the Foursquare or Swarm apps. Naturally, that data is focused on location — that may be Foursquare’s big selling point compared to Facebook and Twitter, which have also been working to expand their ad capabilities beyond their own properties.

President Steven Rosenblatt said the company has created a representative sample of about 1.3 million people (out of its total of 50 million active users) who have opted in to constantly share their location data with Foursquare. So his team can find users in the panel who have seen an ad, examine their behavior, then compare it to a similar group of users who didn’t see the ad. That, in turn, allows Foursquare to extrapolate how much the ad resulted in a “lift” in store visits.

Foursquare Sample Report

And while you might wonder whether Foursquare users would make a good stand-in for the population as a whole, Rosenblatt said the company has built a panel that’s similar to the broader US consumer base in terms of age, gender and location (though it’s a bit weaker when it comes to people under 18 and over 55 years old). Plus, he argued there’s “no one even close” in terms of the size of their panel, particularly when it comes to measuring user behavior directly — for example he noted that Nielsen measures just 40,000 households.

In an early test, Flipboard said that by using this technology, it was able show an advertiser that their campaign resulted in a 12 percent incremental lift. Other launch partners include Brown-Forman (makers of Jack Daniel’s), TGI Fridays and ad-tech companies Drawbridge and Adelphic.

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Mall of America Place Shapes from Foursquare on Vimeo.

To show off the technology, Foursquare measured the effectiveness of Super Bowl ads. Apparently the big winner was Red Lobster — which wasn’t even an advertiser but saw a 12 percent lift in store traffic, thanks to being featured by Beyoncé.

Rosenblatt also noted that Foursquare can provide this data to advertisers on a daily basis, rather than making them wait for weeks, and that the company has years of location data that it can use to determine whether or not you’re really in a given location. As for privacy, he emphasized that these users have opted in to share their data, and that it’s all aggregated and anonymized.

Asked how these products fit into Foursquare’s consumer strategy, Rosenblatt replied, “The consumer apps are the foundation of everything we ultimately do. We will continue to use our technology and the incredible location intelligence we have to enhance those experiences. They go hand-in-hand — they really do.”