Foursquare Unleashes Location Data Dashboard for Retailers and Brands

‘Google analytics for the real world’

Taco Bell, H&M and TGI Fridays are testing Foursquare's new data tool. Foursquare
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During Chipotle’s E.coli and norovirus outbreaks last year, Foursquare accurately predicted before its earning call that the chain’s same-store sales dropped based on foot traffic data. Now it’s opening up its data spigot of similar stats to marketers.

For the past six months or so, Foursquare has quietly been working with brands including Taco Bell, TGI Fridays, H&M and Equinox to test a tool dubbed Foursquare Analytics that packages all of the company’s foot traffic data into a web dashboard that includes 93 million mapped locations. With Foursquare Analytics, the company is primarily targeting marketers’ in-house analysts and strategists that dissect patterns in foot traffic for brands.

Foursquare’s demographic-based data breaks down what times of day and how often people go to a store. The insights can then be filtered to show how they stack up to competitors or industry averages. Those stats can then be used to gleam how many of a retailer’s shoppers are loyal and help determine how much someone spends to some degree, if a retailer has a hunch that they want to prove.

“We figure it as Google Analytics but for the real world,” said Mike Harkey, vp of business development at Foursquare. “The analysts, the strategists can go in and really chase up their own questions—they might have a thesis for something that’s happening in the market.”

Take T.J. Maxx, for example. T.J. Maxx is not a client, but Foursquare studied the retailer’s foot traffic to show how its tool functions. Per Foursquare, 5 percent of T.J. Maxx’s shoppers visit roughly every other week and 80 percent went to the store at least twice in the past year. High-frequency shoppers drove 40 percent of the chain’s foot traffic in February, up from 30 percent in 2016.

When asked if Foursquare is pitching Foursquare Analytics to agencies, Harkey said, “Today our primary focus is on clients direct—we want to understand the questions that they’re trying to answer and walking through how they can access that through the dashboard. Over time, you could certainly imagine us developing a version that would make sense for agencies as well.”

Foursquare Analytics fits into a bigger narrative for the firm as its business moves from a consumer-facing app to a business-to-business data player. Earlier this month, Foursquare launched a SDK to power location data within branded apps, and late last year, it inked a deal with Nielsen to track digital ads that drive in-store sales, leaving some to wonder if the company could be an acquisition target for a big marketing cloud company.

Meanwhile, the world of location data seems particularly lucrative for companies that once focused on mobile advertising. Last week, xAd started using a new pricing model called cost per visit and claims that like Foursquare, it’s moving into data forecasting that predicts where and when people are most likely to visit a store.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.