While the usefulness of the location sharing app Foursquare may be dubious, one thing is certain: the company has so far lacked a real revenue source.
So it’s not at all surprising (and in fact a bit heartening) to learn that Foursquare is checking in to a new venture: coupons. Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley made the announcement in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Appearing in a July update of the Foursquare app, the coupons will take the form of personalized offers from local vendors, who will pay Foursquare for their placement.
The move, on the whole, makes sense. Foursquare, on the retailer end, has always been all about encouraging consumers to make repeat visits, a highly-desired thing for pretty much any business.
The plan, however, isn’t the first of its kind. Last year Foursquare announced that it was working with American Express to offer discounts to cardholders when they checked into the locations of participating merchants.
But the company’s new plans are a bit more ambitious. With personalized coupons, it appears that Foursquare is finally nearing the point where it can monetize all the data its been collecting over the past three years. Foursquare’s 20 million users have checked in two billion times, so the company is clearly in possession of a lot of information.
But Foursquare faces some real hurdles, not the least of which is that most people are still not crazy about the idea of location sharing as a whole. That, Crowley hopes, may get better with time.
“People are still warming to the idea of location sharing. We are inventing this category, or really pushing it forward,” he told WSJ.
Crowley himself ”lost his mobile couponing virginity” way back in 2008, before Foursquare was even launched. At the time the Crowely noted one of the biggest problems with the concept. “Mobile couponing isn’t a bad idea (I’m actually seeing it in a lot of mobile biz plans these days), its just so hard to execute because of a venue’s employees (the people behind the bar, cash register or counter),” he wrote on Flickr.
With Foursquare’s latest efforts, Crowley may have just found a way around that.
Photo via Flickr: MissMessie, Dennis Crowley
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