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.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

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.