Foursquare Leverages Location for Attribution - eMarketer

Newsletters Sign-Up

Plans & Pricing

Does My Company Subscribe?

Foursquare Leverages Location for Attribution

December 7, 2016 | Marketing

Chris Rorie
Director, Research and Analytics

Brick-and-mortar attribution can often be a black box for marketers—it’s hard enough to determine whether a digital channel drove a consumer to a retail location, let alone which specific channel delivered the most impact. Foursquare is working to change that with Attribution Powered by Foursquare, a new product from the location social app that measures ad effectiveness based on foot traffic, and provides attribution insight based on the actions that ads drive at specific locations. Chris Rorie, director of research and analytics at Foursquare, spoke with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about how the tool works and what makes it unique.

eMarketer: How does your new attribution product link digital and in-store engagement?

Chris Rorie: We launched attribution as a standalone product to measure foot traffic and deliver holistic insight on campaigns to marketers. We’re looking at digital ads run by different publishers, not just ads run in our apps, and measuring their effectiveness based on foot traffic data that we’re getting from all of our apps.

eMarketer: What are the challenges associated with location-based attribution?

Rorie: It’s not incredibly challenging because we have a large user base with first-party location data that’s persistently tracked in the background. We understand where people go in the real world with a high degree of accuracy, so all it takes is applying basic stats and methodology to our control lists. The challenge for most brands is to build a strong [lookalike] group that resembles the exposed control group [and advertise to them].

“People are aware that we’re listening all the time to where they are, and they’re fine with that.”

eMarketer: Do users have to opt in before advertisers gain access to their location data?

Rorie: Whenever anybody uses Foursquare or Swarm, they’re accepting the terms and conditions that allow us to use the location data they share with us. Most users are happy to share it because it makes the app experience better for them. When they go into a new neighborhood we’ll say, “Hey, we see you’re in SoHo and we know you like coffee, so check out this new coffee shop.” People are aware that we’re listening all the time to where they are, and they’re fine with that.

eMarketer: What makes Foursquare’s attribution product better or different than products from other players?

Rorie: The biggest differentiator is visit accuracy. We have over 9 billion explicit check-ins to date. Most other players in this space just don’t have that kind of explicit check-in data. Our lack of statistical bias is important as well. Our user base is completely nonincentivized. Other companies incentivize, meaning they’ll give away a $5 reward card for a check-in.

Incentives result in a lower-income audience, which is not fully representative of the real world. Finally, our ability to crunch and process data in real time sets us apart. We recently launched a real-time dashboard that our clients’ agency partners and publishers can log in to to see their performance updated in real time.

“Incentives result in a lower-income audience, which is not fully representative of the real world.”

eMarketer: Have any brands tested out this tool already?

Rorie: We’ve kicked off partnerships with over 55 different companies, including Anheuser-Busch, TGI Friday’s, Peet’s Coffee and a number of different ad tech vendors, publishers and programmatic vendors.

eMarketer: Have you experimented with connecting this attribution tool to TV?

Rorie: There is obviously a very big market in TV. Right now, we’re a very accurate digital cross-device solution. We can tag digital media occurring across apps, the mobile web, desktop, tablet, display and video. Connected TVs do come up, and we’re actively exploring ways to offer attribution services there as well.

Go beyond the articles

eMarketer PRO customers get quick and easy access to the exact data and analysis they need to make critical business decisions:


  • Go beyond the articles:

    eMarketer Products

    You've never experienced research like this.

  • Hear from our clients:

    Customer Stories

    Nearly all Fortune 500 companies rely on us.

  • Want to learn more?

    Contact Us

    Inquire about corporate subscriptions today.