Foursquare has announced its long-awaited business model, telling the Wall Street Journal that it will begin offering personalized coupons to its users. “We are building software that’s able to drive new customers and repeat visitors to local business,” co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley says. The coupons are an upcoming feature and vendors will pay to have their business and the deals featured on Foursquare.
It’s the means to an end that all the app’s users should have seen coming. The deluge of unprofitable yet insanely popular social applications out there is staggering, and Foursquare doesn’t intend to be one of them. The site managed to jump all over the crossroads of social, local, and mobile when the genre first started to emerge some three years ago and has continue to iterate new versions to keep up with the SoLoMo evolution.
And part of that is revenue. Foursquare has been the Mecca for local for years now and is home to billions of check-ins – and that powerful information is going to drive its coupon efforts. The check-ins will allow users to redeem available deals from vendors who have signed up with Foursquare for the service.
From a user perspective, it’s all good news: if you’re already a Foursquare user, then you’re all for being rewarded for your check-in. It’s a system that’s already begun, with check-in loyalty being monitored by businesses using the app. The likely backlash will come from those who feel their Foursquare experience is being driven by local retailers that are willing to use the new coupon service instead of other factors – like previous check-ins, or places your friends like.
But it shouldn’t take long for the collective Foursquare community to get beyond this. Venue’s have had the ability to create deals for awhile now, and the redesigned approach will really just offer promoted placement to the available local discounts. For all intents and purposes, it’s the latest iteration of the deals system Foursquare has had for some time.
Foursquare is quickly becoming a veteran in the social sphere, and to see it gently introducing a means to revenue makes complete sense. And it’s time that the company starts diving into the mountain of location data it’s amassed to keep evolving its product. “One of the biggest growth areas for us as a company is hiring data-science folks to come in and start making sense of the two billion check-ins. They is really the secret sauce,” as Crowley puts it.