The news recently broke that Foursquare is forming agreements to start charging search engines such as Google and Bing for their geographic location data. Instantly various news sources launched stories seeking to satisfy user curiosities by positing what these information transactions might lead to in the future. Among the many educated guesses were enhanced real-time search, social mapping, and more strongly developed mobile search. I would add one more: more strongly targeted traditional advertising and marketing media.
Internet analysts and emerging media connoisseurs may write disproportionately more about innovative new technologies, but if you ask the advertising and marketing executives of the world if they have abandoned traditional media as part of their integrated campaigns, the answer would be a resounding “no.” The data that Foursquare will provide is a solid reinforcement of retaining those traditional marketing strategies. What we physically see and interact with outside of the realm of our computer and television screens still matters.
Still, it might surprise most people to learn that the data they generate by using Foursquare’s geo-location technology will be used to determine what shows up on their local billboards. Yes, you heard right– billboard. Even if, admittedly, these days that billboard might be digital and therefore closer to a television than the enormous printed posters the term still conjures.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Geo-location data brings the internet back to the earth by collecting information on where you were when you saw what. With apps like Foursquare, suddenly it’s not who you are, but where you are and when that matters most again. That means that physical advertising efforts such as billboards can be even better data-driven and targeted to the interests of local populations.
How do you feel about these types of emerging social media and GPS-oriented advertising ventures that will know where you go, where you shop, and where you eat? Do you think of this type of geographically-targeted advertising as convenience, or as an invasion of privacy?