Mobile can lead shoppers to your store, but will they shop there?
Remember Foursquare? It was a big deal in the early days of smartphones and location-based social services. The app allowed users to check in to specific places, doled out virtual badges and designated certain people as mayors for multiple check-ins.
But times have changed - and so has Foursquare. In 2014, the company launched Swarm, which took over the social aspects of the service, while Foursquare itself focused on local search. The company also has commercial relationships with the likes of Evernote, Uber, Flickr, Jawbone and Microsoft, providing them with location-based services and data. And over 100,000 other developers use its Places database and API.
Last April, things got more interesting with the launch of Pinpoint, an ad platform that allows brands to target consumers based on the locations they've visited.
And now the company has just launched a tool that allows marketers track whether exposure to advertising drives any change in behaviour - specifically any visits to retail outlets.
They gave it the snappy name Attribution Powered by Foursquare. I can't quite decide whether to just call it attribution, or go down the acronym route beloved by marketers and call it APF. Either way, it promises to measure real traffic to bricks and mortar locations, rather than clicks to websites.
"Our goal is to measure how advertisers actually drive people into physical stores," says Foursquare president Steven Rosenblatt.
"It's is an exciting new capability, and seamlessly complements our other offerings.
"There has always been an incredible need to understand measurement - and yet there hasn't been a tool to solve the online-to-offline measurement challenge - until now," Rosenblatt says.
"Historically, these insights came weeks after a campaign was completed; often in the form of surveys. Today, Attribution empowers partners to make better use of their marketing dollars in real time.
"Advertisers now have new insights into their audiences, a quantifiable understanding of what's working, and business intelligence to help them determine how they can immediately adjust and optimise their spend."
So how does it work?
Well, it uses a panel of 1.3 million Foursquare and Swarm app users, who are representative of the US population, aged 18-55, approximately half male and half female. On average, members of the panel make around five visits per day to various places of interest.
The digital and physical worlds are linked via a pixel in any digital ad unit.
Foursquare can then measure the incremental lift in footfall by examining the difference in behaviour between those who were served the ad and those who weren't and extrapolating outwards.
Attribution Powered by Foursquare has been in the pipeline for several months according to Rosenblatt.
"We have run about a dozen pilot tests with marketers/agencies, publishers and programmatic partners including Brown-Forman, TGI Fridays, Flipboard, Drawbridge and Adelphic," he says.
"As an example of a successful test, recently Flipboard used Attribution to measure the performance of an ad campaign that it ran for a major international retail brand.
Through this test, Flipboard was able to demonstrate that the brand's ads drove 12pc incremental lift in visits to retail locations within a week."
Attribution Powered by Foursquare is a smart attempt to create another revenue stream for Foursquare's user data. Piggybacking on other advertising efforts to offer results to increasingly data hungry marketers makes perfect sense.
But the smartest retailers already see the mobile device as a game changer at every step along a consumers' path to purchase.
The US retail giant, Target, for example, calls mobile the "front door to the store" in recognition of the importance of mobile for its business. A whopping 98pc of Target's customers shop digitally, and 75pc of them start their experience on a mobile device.
And smartphones aren't just capable of measuring how consumers move from research to reaching out to retail outlets. They're also changing their behaviour once they enter the shops too.
The Google/Ipsos 'Consumers in the Micro-Moment' study from last year found that 82pc of shoppers said they consult their phones on purchases they're about to make in a shop.
But it's not all good news for retailers. Smartphones can lose sales as well as secure them.
Another Google survey from last year found that around 25pc of shoppers claim to have changed their minds while in a queue for the checkout after further research on what they're about to buy or an alternative.
So while smartphones allow the likes of Foursquare to measure the success of marketing in terms of footfall, they also a facilitate flightier consumers changing their minds and walking straight back out of the shops
Sunday Indo Business