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Mobile location-based social network and gaming service Foursquare has been generated a bit of buzz lately, especially amongst the early adopter crowd. In just under a year, it has amassed a user base of 300,000, and with deals like the one it recently signed with television network Bravo, some believe Foursquare may be ready to hit the mainstream.
That's good news for the company and its investors, but as Foursquare starts exploring the commercial opportunities that come with popularity, it may find that maintaining the 'cool' factor and maximizing commercial opportunities at the same time is a difficult thing to do.
Twitter is over three years old and many people still don't get it. Just last week, The NewYorker's George Packer called it “crack for media addicts.” But will real-time oversharing services make it into the mainstream?
At The Future of Space and Time talk during Social Media Week in New York on Wednesday, panelists from the tech world noted that conditioning larger audiences to share their real-time info and location will be necessary for such technologies to truly take off.
And for advertisers, this could be the key to actually serving those relevant ads everyone's always talking about.
As television audiences shrink, the networks are suddenly very interested in partnerships that bridge the digital divide. That might help explain why a big brand like Bravo TV would announce a partnership with a tiny startup like Foursquare today. And it might just work.
Starting this week, Foursquare will start awarding its users with badges that have Bravo themes when they visit over 500 locations associated with the network. The announcement is just one of many partnerships Foursquare has been quickly announcing, and it is just the kind of thing that networks need to do if they want to connect their television audiences with digital and real world products.
For marketers working in mobile, talk about cellphones being on the verge of breaking out can feel more than a bit repetitive. At least that's the way Brian Levin of Useful Networks put it at the Location Awareness panel at Ad:Tech today.
"I feel a little like Bill Murray in 'Groundhog's Day.' I was on this panel last year."
Despite all the technological progress and increased user adoption that mobile phones have experience in the past few years, they still occupy only a small percentage of most marketing budgets.
Amid all of the promise held out in the future of mobile, how is the market actually going to break out? The panelists at Ad:Tech's panel on location werein agreement on a few things (besides the Corona's that were served on stage to celebrate impending happy hour).
A lot of it will rely on users self-reporting their data.
What do startups strapped for cash — and time — do when they want to expand their brand into new places? In the case of Foursquare, they're letting their users do it for them.
The location-based messaging service, begun by Naveen Selvadurai and Dennis Crowley in New York City, has been getting a lot of positive press lately. (I've written previously about the company here.)
But keeping up with all of that attention is a different story. While many online companies can easily push their web presence globally, Foursquare is currently only available in 22 cities. The technology is capable of working anywhere, but making it useful takes work on the ground. And in Vancouver, users are willing to put in those hours themselves. Starting on September 9, Foursquare is launching in the Canadian city. With a little help from the city's residents. And marketing firm 6S. If it goes well, this could greatly expand the company's reach. And show how a little positive word of mouth can go global.
The increased adoption of smartphones is making location-based business ideas very popular right now. One player in the space — Foursquare — has gotten attention this week for its ability to help advertisers turn location data into dollars.
Foursquare is a location-based social networking app. I'm a user — and friend of the creators Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai. This week I found myself in the middle of Foursquare's business potential after I had dinner at Supper with my friend Michael Galpert.
We "checked in" on Foursquare and an hour later, his friend Charlie asked what he should order there. We recommended the spinach gnocchi.* Charlie took our advice. And then wrote about the potential of Foursquare for advertisers on his blog.
Charlie O'Donnell is also the CEO of Path101, an advice service that helps people figure out what's next in their careers. His post, "Why Yelp (...and Every Single Retail Establishment) Should Support Foursquare," caught the eye of TechCrunch and Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures.
Foursquare currently doesn't have any ads, but I caught up with O'Donnell to see why he thinks the app has so much potential for advertisers and why Yelp should be all over it right now.