Foursquare Debuts Pinpoint, Ad Platform For Place-Based Targeting

FourSquare bordersCalling all advertisers who want to target based on where people have visited: Foursquare is expanding its location targeting from its 55 million users to anyone with a smartphone. On Tuesday, it launched a programmatic ad platform called Pinpoint, designed to leverage the location data from its partner app ecosystem.

While Foursquare previously let advertisers target its users via the Foursquare Audience Network, Pinpoint lets advertisers target non-Foursquare users.

Foursquare’s app partners transmit their users’ location data (provided those users opted into the app’s terms and conditions). Foursquare, which has a business directory in its database, will translate that location into an actual place, add it to its anonymous ad identifier, segment it and execute the media buy.

Plenty of other mobile companies use location data, but CRO Steven Rosenblatt touts the supremacy of Foursquare’s location mapping, which links GPS coordinates to Madison Square Garden or a corner restaurant.

“We have 65 million places all over the world and have created these unique shapes for each individual place, based on the way the phones use the world,” he said.

Marketers could use Foursquare’s location data to conquest or target based on inferences derived from a user’s location history.

There’s also an ability to target across platforms, depending on the technological capabilities of the partner DSP. Foursquare is working with a number of technology partners, including Drawbridge, Turn and Google.

The kicker will be Foursquare’s “Place Attribution Report,” which allows advertisers to see if someone who was served an ad visited the brand’s restaurant or store.

Launch partners include Olive Garden, FedEx, Coors Light, AT&T, Jaguar Land Rover and Samsung Galaxy.

Advertisers who want to buy using Foursquare’s segments will go through Foursquare, which leverages its place-based insights to come up with segments. It could look at the location history for people who visited a restaurant chain, for example, to find out if the eaters there tend to frequent other types of restaurants or venues.

The Pinpoint model is “a managed service with programmatic elements,” Rosenblatt said. Additionally, Foursquare is creating a private marketplace featuring premium content partners for advertisers who want brand-safe inventory.

While Foursquare users know their location data is being tracked, the average smartphone user may not. To alleviate privacy concerns, Foursquare will not allow brands to do real-time targeting based on location. It’s also why Foursquare is creating aggregate segments (“business travelers”) vs. targeting on the individual user basis.

It’s hoping that this location data, tied to meaningful locations, will speed up brands’ shift to mobile. “We believe the same way search unlocked dollars to desktop, location will unlock dollars to mobile,” Rosenblatt said.

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