Former Apple iAd sales director Steven Rosenblatt has been assisting Foursquare with ad products development since January when he left the tech giant, ClickZ has learned. His role with the geo-social app may shed some light not only into why Foursquare is ready to launch a paid search/discovery platform next month, but also into what its ads may look like.
"Steven has been working closely with our internal monetization team as an advisor," Erin Gleason, Foursquare rep, told ClickZ via an email, adding that the relationship began several months ago.
Rob Reed, CEO of local-social marketing provider MomentFeed, said Rosenblatt (pictured above) could be a big asset to Foursquare because specials on the app platform "are also full-screen smart phone experiences, not unlike iAds, and there is plenty of room to innovate with scannable barcodes, dynamic targeting, and point-of-sale integration… Foursquare can drive sales, and that's ultimately what marketers want."
Especially multi-location companies like Walgreens, which has been among the biggest retail businesses testing Foursquare. Adam Kmiec, social media director for the brand, briefly praised three-year-old Foursquare for bringing in an industry veteran. Rosenblatt was an ad sales exec for mobile ad net Quattro Wireless (a 2010 Apple acquisition) and Maxim Digital.
"We remain impressed with Foursquare's commitment to talent," Kmiec said.
Foursquare hopes to launch paid ads in June. Merchants will be able to promote check-in deals on the platform when users search for local specials, employing the same algorithms currently used on the app's "Explore" tab.
Up until this development, Foursquare mobile app searches have produced organic results. The same has been true when users tap "Explore" and then hit a "Specials" button before seeing local merchant specials on Foursquare, as well as syndicated deals from Groupon, LivingSocial, Gilt City, ScoutMob, etc. When the ads platform launches, sponsored results will begin appearing in both cases.
Foursquare isn't just using Rosenblatt's input. It is also collaborating with past brand partners to create the paid ads platform. During the last two years, it has worked with names like Walgreens, Pepsi, Dunkin' Donuts, Whole Foods, and Radio Shack.
Foursquare Looks to Increase Revenue and Scale
From a longer view, it's the latest business-minded step for Foursquare, which has at least 15 million users and aspires to be a local marketing platform worldwide. Last August, the three-year-old company released a free-to-use self-service platform for business pages. The pages product is available to marketers in 11 languages.
The paid ads development isn't necessarily unchartered territory for the geo-social brand. Nine months ago, ClickZ learned Foursquare was selling custom badges to brands on its platform starting at $75,000. And it's mobile distribution deal with the aforementioned daily deals players was unveiled in August 2011. It's been assumed by industry watchers Foursquare has been getting a sales cut for converted referrals it dishes out to Groupon, LivingSocial, and others.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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