Cost Per Check-in: Has Foursquare Initiated A New Ad Model?
However where Twitter falls short in approaching this market themselves, it's just slightly behind the curve in offering the right kind of geolocation component. This left the door wide open for Foursquare to strike deals with franchised brands like Tasti D-Lite and their "young, hip Pecan Preline Crunchy customers," as Ethan Lyon describes them. In my previous blog, titled, "Tasti D-Lite Loyalty Program Needs Geolocation To Sell Product," I detailed how Twitter did not address tweets that needed to target followers based on location. For instance, when a Twitter user tweets out a deal he has just received from this dessert company, it will be sent to one's entire following, instead of a distinct grouping within one's geographic radius.
On the flip side, when this same communication is sent out to one's followers on Foursquare, it can be limited to a 3-4 block territory. This allows those users and their Foursquare followers to benefit from a special deal or coupon offering within a short walking distance.
To this end, according to an Ad Age report, Foursquare is planning its first-time 'paid' services for three tiers of businesses: small, privately owned stores and restaurants, brands with retail chains, such as Tasti D-Lite and at its highest level - huge, multinational marketers such as Pepsi.
This is where 'Cost Per Check-In' might play a role. While checking into a Tasti D-Lite shop today, a user might be awarded a coupon from the Tennessee-based chain. This is the service Foursquare calls "Specials Nearby." However, it doesn't take a rocket science to think about the possibilities if Foursquare were to charge for each check-in, or number of check-ins after a certain quota is reached. The analytics are already built into the system, and it is certainly showing Tasti D-Lite that it can drive traffic.
So why haven't they done so?
The fine line that Foursquare treads at this point in time is to determine whether it can consistently grow - whether that growth will be moderate or exponential - but more importantly, if it can maintain its 'cool' appeal. According to David Berkowitz, director emerging media at digital agency 360i, "The X-factor appeal of Foursquare is in its social currency." As long as that appeal can sustain the long-haul, I think monetization is right around the corner. And I also think that a greater collaboration deal with Twitter is imminent. A joint deal between these two social networking entities make a lot of sense and would synergistically provide the users of both camps, more bang for the buck, then if they were to choose to compete with one another.
As I've stated previously, 2010 is the year of "geolocation." And geo-tagging is what is going to finally capture that illusive dollar revenue that Twitter and Foursquare have not been able to capture for themselves, - but instead have provided for its partners. By mid-year, I see a paradigm shift when they harness the "hand that feeds" and start taking a piece of that pie (or Pecan Praline) for themselves.
'Cost Per Check-in' could be the first step in that lucrative direction!