How Foursquare Is Turning Your Check-Ins Into Ad Revenue

Check in at a bar on Foursquare, and maybe it will serve you up a vodka ad.

Check in at a bar on Foursquare, and maybe it will serve you up a vodka ad.

We never really understood the idea behind Foursquare. Then again we’ve never felt the need to broadcast our whereabouts to the rest of the world. Regardless, there are still plenty of people checking in at stores, bars, restaurants, and anywhere else you could imagine. But what’s in it for Foursquare?

Obviously, the company needs to make money somehow. And the most logical way of doing that would be to share your location information with advertisers.

The folks at Valleywag got their hands on an internal Foursquare document about two location-based ad products the company is pushing to buyers.

1. Check-in Retargeting

Similar to the Drawbridge/Expedia test we wrote about earlier today, Foursquare is trying to go beyond the borders of its app. It takes user check-in data, combines that with data known about the user’s on- and offline buying behavior (thanks to data brokers like Acxiom, and Datalogix, both of which also happen to be under investigation by the FTC)

Using all this info, Foursquare says it can provide full profiles of users and put them into categories like Mobile Mass Market Mom — “Head of Household Procurement & Family CFO” — defined as a female between 25 to 54 years of age who has checked in at a school, park, or kid’s movie in the last 180 days.

2. Post Check-In Ads
This one is more immediate. You check in at a certain bar, and Foursquare serves you up an ad for a certain type of vodka. Check in at a Chicago Cubs game, maybe you’ll get an ad for a good therapist.

The whole slideshow is embedded below, but what’s more important is how to opt out of some of this crap.

First, just stop using Foursquare, or checking in places on Facebook. If you don’t provide these companies with information, they can’t sell it to anyone. But if you can’t give up the unparalleled thrill of checking in at your local Dairy Queen, there are other ways to opt out from the big data brokers.

For instance, Acxiom’s website includes info on its opt-out procedure and policies, and the Datalogix privacy page has a form for opting out — it’s in the “Choice” section.

Earlier this year the folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation created this helpful post about opting out of Facebook’s most recent tracking nonsense.

Foursquare's Plan to Woo Advertisers