Foursquare-Factual Merger Sets Up Location Data Alternative to Google and Facebook

Dennis Schaal, Skift
Foursquare-Factual Merger Sets Up Location Data Alternative to Google and Facebook

Foursquare, a pioneer in consumer check-ins a decade ago that pivoted into location data services for ad targeting, is merging with a competitor, Factual.

The tie-up — the terms of which was not disclosed — pairs two already strong players in location data advertising services, and strengthens them as an alternative to Google and Facebook as a provider of these mobile-based services.

New York-based Foursquare and Los Angeles-headquartered Factual, both founded a little more than a decade ago, had collectively raised nearly $500 million in venture capital funding, according to Crunchbase.

The current coronavirus pandemic aside, Cree Lawson, the founder and CEO of a location intelligence platform for travel, Arrivalist, said “there never has been a better time to target media based on people’s location history.”

That’s because three strong players in location-based data, Foursquare, Placed, and Factual, will now operate under one roof with a goal of integrating their services.

“Factual’s location software helps marketers hone in on customer segments, for instance, people who have visited certain car dealerships in the last 30 days,” the Wall Street Journal reported, adding that it supplements the location data and software that Foursquare already offered to businesses.

Foursquare acquired Placed a little less than a year ago, strengthening the merged companies’ ability to target ads based on foot traffic, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Following Foursquare’s acquisition of Placed last year and upon the integration with Factual, together we’ll offer customers a united product portfolio, providing the best in highly scalable audiences, offline attribution, point of interest (POI) data and developer tools that will enable companies to tap into data and insights that optimize their marketing and business decisions,” Foursquare CEO David Shim wrote in an announcement.

The merged companies will operate under the Foursquare brand, Shim will stay on as CEO, and Factual founder and CEO Gil Elbaz joins the Foursquare board.

Shim said the combined companies generate $150 million in revenue from more than 20 markets globally, and have a client roster that includes “Microsoft, Uber, Samsung, Snap, Twitter, and more than half of the Fortune 100.”

Alternative to Google and Facebook

Lawson of Arrivalist, which uses location data to measure visitation and isn’t in the ad targeting business, noted that Foursquare’s strengths are among restaurants, retail, real estate, and automotive customers. Subway restaurants is a leading client.

But Lawson said Foursquare data could be used by big hotel chains such as Marriott, for example, to enhance their experiences business by serving ads to people who had been to a spa in the past 30 days.

Foursquare has been pushing the limits in offering location-based ad targeting services, and is more aggressive than Google and Facebook, which offer services with some parallels but from behind the “wall garden” of their auctions, Lawson said.

Google and Facebook didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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