Foursquare has partnered with Voice Media Group, the publishers of alternative newspapers like the Village Voice and LA Weekly, to power its listings for local theaters, bars, and restaurants, and events. Today, the companies announced a strategic data syndication partnership that spans fifty categories in eleven markets, starting with cities like New York and Los Angeles.
It was in these cities that Voice Media Group had first worked with Foursquare on badges for its readers, who for years have picked up dog-eared copies of printed newspapers left on the tables of coffee shops and bars to plan their weekends. “We were local before local was cool,” said Voice Media Group CEO Scott Tobias. On choosing to partner with a mobile and online check-in service, he said, “it’s not a real pivot at all.”
Foursquare awards badges and even honorary mayorships to its community of 30 million people who use their phones to “check in” when they reach their destination or leave a tip for someone else, effectively making good on their plans.
VMG will syndicate its popular “Best Of” content on Foursquare and create new badges built around those check-ins. The publisher will also include Foursquare’s trending data, tips, and mayoral statistics on its Voice Places site, which is a local review and recommendation engine for the desktop.
“At Foursquare, we are always looking to help people make the most of where they are and we love to work with partners that can help provide relevant and interesting local content,” said a Foursquare representative. “With their roster of great alternative newspapers, Voice Media Group has a ton of expertise in cities across the US that will help make Foursquare even smarter.”
In partnering with VMG, Foursquare’s smarts will be slightly edgier than those of competing service Google Maps. Google purchased the restaurant review site ZAGAT in September 2011, enhancing its system of user-generated reviews with an authoritative culinary voice. In August of 2012, the company added travel reviews to the mix with the purchase of Frommer’s travel guides for $25 million.
Other publishers that use Foursquare to leave editorial recommendations for their readers include Lucky, Time Out NY, and AskMen. “Publishers and trusted brands use Foursquare to extend their reach and remind people of their expertise when it is most useful,” Foursquare’s spokesperson said.
Even in an era of user-generated reviews on Foursquare and competing services like Yelp, professional content “has remained important and will always be important,” said Tobias.
In addition to New York and Los Angeles, the data partnership will extend to Denver, CO; Phoenix, AZ; Houston, TX; Dallas, TX; St. Louis, MO; Miami, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Broward/Palm Beach, FL; and Orange County, CA.