Foursquare lets businesses boost their profiles in search

The check-in social network launches self-serve ads, which let small businesses around the world pay to rank their profiles higher in user search results.

Foursquare

Forget McDonald's and Macy's, small businesses can now pay Foursquare to make their ads appear higher in search results.

Foursquare announced Tuesday that it was rolling out self-serve ads for small businesses, with the goal of letting users discover new locales they normally wouldn't know about. The way it works is businesses pay a little extra for the self-serve ads and then their profiles are ranked higher in user search results.

"The idea behind these new ads is simple -- connect people looking for somewhere to go with businesses that want to drive traffic to their stores," Foursquare wrote in a blog post. "Foursquare is the best way for those businesses to reach nearby customers."

Foursquare says that 1.4 million small businesses around the world use the check-in social network and they would have to pay only the extra money when people actually visited their Foursquare listing or checked-in at the business.

Over the past year, Foursquare has been working to become more of a local search engine than just a check-in social network. Last October, it launched its new Web site , which is open to nonmembers and has a prominent search box. The company has also been in the process of adding more-specific information to its listings, like when a place is open, prices, and ratings.

The company has also been working to find new ways to generate revenue through advertising. Besides the self-serve ads, Foursquare also recently began showing users targeted ads after they check in at specific locations. The revenue-generating initiative comes a year after the company started allowing merchants to promote their updates to members for a fee.

Currently, only a few thousand local businesses can sign up for the self-serve ads; but in the coming months Foursquare plans to roll it out to more businesses.

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