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Will brands latch on to post check-in foursquare ads?

July 23, 2013

"Toys" R Us within the foursquare app

Toys “R” Us and Diageo are among a handful of brands that are testing a new mobile ad format from foursquare that doles out ads to consumers after they check-in to locations in a move by the social media application to separate itself from its competitors.

Foursquare has actively tried to position itself as more than a check-in service of late as the mobile check-in craze continues to slow down. Foursquare has stiff competition in the location-based space, but by focusing on a location that consumers are already at, the company could see some positive reactions from brands with the new ad units.

“Brand advertisers look for relevant eyeballs and mobile apps attract a very large number of eyeballs that can be easily segmented for relevance today,” said Mahi de Silva, CEO of Opera Mediaworks, San Mateo, CA.

“Foursquare has an audience that is young, social and impressionable,” he said. “The post-check-in experience is an opportunity for a brand to get a highly tailored message to that consumer when they are just about to begin a consumptive experience. To the extent that foursquare allows brands to target and tailor the ad experience, and have some assurance around relevancy and engagement, brands are likely to find it very appealing.”

Mobile targeting
Foursquare has rolled out a series of new ad units that serve consumers an ad based on similar locations nearby to where they check-in.

For instance, Diageo’s Captain Morgan is targeting bars and restaurants to send consumers an ad that reminds them to order a drink made with the liquor.

Additionally, Toys “R” Us is pinpointing parks, such as New York’s Prospect Park, with ads that are linked to mobile coupons.

One offer gave consumers a promo code for 20 percent off that could be used in-store or online on July 4. The coupon was good until July 6.

The Toys “R” Us offer

Once a consumer receives one of these ads, they can either redeem it on the spot or save it for later via the notifications tab within the foursquare app. If users choose to save the offer, it is also emailed to them.

The new ad units are a bigger part of foursquare’s ongoing initiatives to leverage its trove of data on users for marketers to create contextually-relevant mobile ads.

Foursquare and its competitors have lost traction in the past few years as the mobile check-in craze dies down, and the company has been restructuring the mobile app to focus less on simply check-ins.

Compared to foursquare’s other efforts, the post check-in ad is interesting because it lets marketers match up locations with brands in a more relevant way. Savvy marketers could connect the dots between places to lure consumers into stores with relevant deals that are curated to them.

Brands will not be able to trigger ads at competitors’ locations though.

Additionally, brands that tap into products that are only available at a specific location will benefit from the ads.

Take a movie theater, for example. Serving up an ad for a concession offer would give consumers a way to directly act and redeem a coupon that is relevant to their location.

This hyperlocal scope could give foursquare a significant advantage in location-based marketing going forward, according to Mr. Silva.

“Foursquare and their functional competitors have an unique value proposition because they can allow advertisers to hone-in on specific types of businesses , and if they allow it, down to a specific place of business and purchase intent,” Mr. Silva said.

“If you are, for example, an adult beverage brand, you can get a highly targeted audience to try to engage,” he said.

Check-in to mobile
Foursquare’s new ads also point to the multiple ways that brands are leveraging check-ins across different mobile mediums to connect with consumers.

Standalone check-in apps are another option for brands looking to tie together mobile and location.

However, using a check-in feature within a branded app still has challenges with getting consumers to download and keep a mobile app.

Despite the growth in location-based efforts, the offers should still only play a part of a retailer’s overall mobile initiatives.

“Location will only be one aspect of what brand marketers use,” said Matt Witt, executive vice president and director of digital integration at TRIS3CT, Chicago.

“Other information will be included with day-parting and the myriad of other forms of information available,” he said. “Brands may be able to make some assumptions the more location-based platforms evolve.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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