With New Attribution Product, Foursquare Will Report On Retail Visits

foursquareattribphotoA new attribution product from Foursquare will demonstrate in-store lift for media campaigns by linking ad exposures to likely retail conversions.

Foursquare President Steven Rosenblatt called attribution “the holy grail of consumer advertising,” and said the product is a key step in the company’s long-term evolution from a consumer app to a data and intelligence shop.

The offering draws on location data from a group of 1.3 million core users of Foursquare-owned check-in app Swarm who opted into the program. Most are unaware that they’re a part of a monetized service group, according to Rosenblatt, but opt in because there’s an improved experience when Foursquare can gather data and personalize offers.

Whenever a user checks into a location or remains there for more than five minutes, Foursquare records that user’s location and data. The time delay helps it exclude people who go by a store but don’t stop inside. Foursquare’s customers can then match the location data set to their media buys through partnerships with cross-device vendors such as Adelphic and Drawbridge.

Publisher and agency customers will pay either a $0.50 CPM or a monthly subscription fee to use the product.

The mobile location data firm Placed announced a similar product earlier this month. Placed’s service uses a network of roughly 800,000 users who have opted in via a network of partner apps, using small cash payments or other incentives to build members.

Offerings such as these represent an important step forward in connecting digital to retail, according to Christine Cook, head of ad partnerships at the media app Flipboard, a pilot partner in Foursquare’s program. She noted that historically retailers wishing to gauge digital impacts on in-store traffic had to hope shoppers would fill out surveys that come with their receipts.

Although Foursquare can offer scale, the precision and robustness of its data set is a work in progress. Nielsen’s TV panel consists of some 40,000 monitored homes, but it’s an audience curated to reflect the whole US population.

Foursquare, like Nielsen, uses anonymized data, but unlike Nielsen it only provides clients with data around age, gender and location. The company is working with Acxiom to overlay that data with things like ethnicity, consumer history and salary level, which will add more value for ad buyers.

The attribution push comes during a significant transition for Foursquare. Last month, the company named a new CEO and raised a funding round that reduced its valuation by about half.

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