Foursquare to add personalized offers to app in July

by Phil Hornshaw

Location-based check-in app Foursquare lets users interact with their friends, review businesses and give tips on what food to eat at restaurants, but its real goal is to have businesses pay it to recommend their goods and services to you, the user. To do that, the developer is planning to add a new layer of special deals to its app this summer: personalized offers.

As GigaOM reports, Foursquare intends to allow merchants to pay to push special offers through the app, and those offers are going to be available through the app’s “Explore” feature. The idea will be that when users discover new businesses, merchants will be able to present them with Foursquare-exclusive offers. Foursquare already provides offers from various businesses, but in a different way that doesn’t charge merchants; the personalized offers will be more specific and focused, from the sounds of things.

While Foursquare has developed a big user base of 20 million users by turning visiting various businesses and locations into a bit of a social game, it doesn’t really have a good means of turning that base into something that can help it earn money. Adding personalized offers and charging for them will help it leverage its user base to the benefit of everyone, and start actually earning something. Foursquare also announced earlier this month that it would allow businesses to pay $10 to be “instantly” verified, rather than requiring them to mail in information in order to be verified within foursquare’s app.

The idea, it seems, is that foursquare is going to build out the features of its app and community in order to make them more useful and enticing, both to businesses and to users. On the user side, deals will encourage people to use Foursquare and send them to new places; for business owners, Foursquare will become a better and better way to get the word out about their businesses. And Foursquare will take its cut from the merchants on the offers provided to its users.

But Foursquare has been giving its service away for free to merchants up to now, so it’s likely that to convert to a paid model, the company will need to offer new services to make it more attractive. Personal offers are a big step in that direction, and it sounds like more is planned as well.

Look for personalized offers to start popping up in Foursquare starting in July, along with a redesign for the app on both Android and Apple’s iOS platform. We’ll keep an ear to the ground about what else Foursquare might have planned for this summer, as well.

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