For many, the original promise of location-based marketing was to serve up advertisements for a particular store—say a sandwich chain—when someone was near the physical location. Now, that same sandwich chain owner can not only choose to serve ads to people in the area, they can build consumer segments based on historic visit data. For example, they can run ads to groups of people who frequent particular competitive sandwich shops, or sandwich shops in general. Or if they have new healthy menu offerings, they can target people who regularly visit gyms, health food stores or smoothie shops.
The above scenario that just played out is part of the evolution of data-infused, location-based marketing and intelligence as explained by Michael Rosen, vice president of sales for Foursquare, who joined AListDaily to detail the importance of using data to identify and capture on consumers’ real-time offline purchase intent and convert that into additional revenue.
“Location is the cookie of the real world, and as a location intelligence company, Foursquare has a unique first-party consumer dataset that marketers can leverage to better understand and reach potential customers,” Rosen says. “We’re firm believers that where you go is the best indicator of who you are. By incorporating location data, marketers are developing new strategies around learnings that were previously unavailable.”
Foursquare’s location data company launched in 2009 as an app that had the interests of consumers intertwined in their DNA—check-in at the local coffee shop. Now you’re at the gym. Then the diner, and the bar, and so forth.
During its formative years, they used GPS and other location signals to collect a treasure trove of data, and because they had intel on consumer interests and specific businesses, leadership started to reposition the company as a location intelligence enterprise offering a new tool for the disposal of marketers across a gamut of industries.
The transition took some time, but they’re now seeing results from the repositioning. Last year was Foursquare’s biggest revenue-generating year to date with a 74 percent year-over-year growth in income.
“Understanding foot traffic doesn’t need to be a mystery for marketers anymore and it’s a huge game changer on the measurement side,” Rosen says. “Now marketers can understand the entire consumer journey from ad exposure, to foot traffic measurement to purchase data.”
A study last year by Forbes Insights indicated that location-based marketing is becoming essential for brands to remain competitive. Yes, long gone are the days of just search and social. Consumer patterns and needs now need to be met in real-time by using relevant and contextual messaging.
Rosen says that location intelligence bridges the gap between online and offline by informing marketers about media mix and measurement models at every step—from content creation to targeting to measurement, all based on where people go in the real world.
According to a Location Based Marketing Association report from March, over 50 percent of companies are currently using location-based data to target their customers, and 25 percent of marketing budgets are allocated to location-based marketing.
The next step in the evolving process came in March when Foursquare partnered with brands like Taco Bell, Lowe’s, H&M and Equinox, among others, to provide them with deep analytics based around real-world foot traffic—think of the tool as a living, breathing Google Analytics-like data-spitting organism that aims at eliminating blind spots in marketers’ metrics.
“Not all data is created equal and marketers at Fortune 500 companies need to consider what data they’re using, and where it is derived from. But when it comes to location data, any major company with a physical footprint can no longer afford to overlook the capabilities and opportunities that location intelligence can open up for them,” Rosen says. “I think the biggest challenge is that some companies think location should be a ‘check-the-box’ strategy, but I’d like to challenge marketers to go beyond the idea of just location data and instead use location to make deep, meaningful business decisions that can result in better outcomes.”
In addition to working with over 100,000 developers for their Places database and API, as well as 150 million devices for their media business via Pinpoint by Foursquare, the company is piling up partnerships with the likes of Snapchat to fine-tune specific location-based advertising. Rosen says they don’t get data back from all of their partners, which also include Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Twitter, Uber, among others, but some help them improve their machine learning and understanding of venues and place shapes to further train and strengthen their database.
“In the past, marketers had to wait months to get data back on whether or not their ad campaigns were successful, but at that point, it was too late for them to course correct if something wasn’t resonating,” Rosen says. “Being able to measure brick-and-mortar foot traffic results of digital ads offers a much quicker turnaround and allows marketers to change their campaigns and strategies while their ads are still running. That’s been tremendous for driving business results and we’ve seen it time and again with our media and attribution partners spanning QSR, retail, auto, entertainment and more.”
Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan