Foursquare is finally offering paid promotions to small businesses — not just fast-food giants

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Foursquare is finally giving small businesses what they’ve always wanted: a way to promote themselves to users of the social network.

Foursquare is testing paid promotions with businesses in New York City, letting them target people based on location, tastes, or, most notably, their check-in histories, AdAge reports. With the feature, small businesses can now advertise their locations with photos or glowing user reviews. These promoted listings will appear in Foursquare users’ feeds or on the “Explore nearby” section of the Foursquare app.

The move is a key, if slightly overdue, one for Foursquare, which has been under increasing scrutiny as it tries to prove to the world that it’s a sustainable business with real growth potential. While the program is only open to a few businesses right now, Foursquare plans to expand it further later this summer.

The move is also important because it may finally help Foursquare solve is user intent problem, which I wrote about in exhaustive detail back in April. Here’s the gist: When someone’s using Foursquare, they’re typically not looking for a local KFC or Taco Bell, and yet, so far, only those sorts of large chains have been able to take advantage of Foursquare’s promoted venue program. This latest expansion finally changes that, and gives Foursquare users a way to discover new places that are actually relevant to them.

The move also ties into another one of Foursquare’s rumored revenue grabs: its own ad product, which would allow advertisers to use its data to target ads on external ad networks. As with the promoted venues, Foursquare’s argument is that the better it can leverage all of that check-in data it’s sitting on, the more money is going to be able to make.


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