I am pretty pessimistic about Foursquare’s future as a standalone service, I think I’ve made it clear last week when I discussed about the company’s new Local Updates feature. This week, Foursquare presenting another new feature, but this time an ad product which strikes as very promising.
The location-based social networking service introduces a new ad product called Promoted Updates which suppose to provide businesses the possibility to surface more prominently their special offers (or any other type of promotional update) in the app’s Explore tab.
The Promoted Updates ad product it’s kinda like a hybrid between Google’s search ads and Twitter’s Promoted Tweets- It brings relevant sponsored “results” according to the user’s search query (special offer from Pizzeria Mozza if you search for “pizza” for example) and it also using the Explore’s algorithms to “suggest” Promoted Updates based on the user’s history, friends, check-ins, time and of course localization.
The design of each Promoted Update looks natural and it blends seamlessly with the Explore tab stream (except for a “Promoted” disclosing label) which would likely to offer a quality experience for users. This is probably the best compliment an ad product can receive because it actually can contribute to the service’s usability, a thing that shouldn’t take for granted.
This type of social advertising already proved to be working fantastically for Twitter with Promoted Tweets and for Facebook with Sponsored Stories. Users have a high rate of engagement with those sorts of promotional posts even when they know they’re in fact ads, which normally reduces enthusiasm by nature, so there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work for Foursquare as well.
Foursquare are saying that they’ll see how those Promoted Updates are performing on the upcoming months with 20 pilot partners which includes Gap, Hilton, jcpenney, Lowe’s, Old Navy and Walgreens. If you are a business owner and you want to receive more details about this new ad program, fill out the form here.
As for me and my dark sight on Foursquare’s future, even though I’ve been impressed that Promoted Updates is a great advertising product, I still haven’t changed my mind. The way I sees things, the ads are suppose to be driven by the service and not the other way around. Unfortunately, not always companies thinks so too.