Services & Software

Foursquare partners with Gnip to sell check-in stream

The arrangement lets marketers and researchers buy access to each and every check-in as it happens.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Foursquare is now selling unfettered access to its real-time stream of check-ins through Gnip, a popular reseller of social-media data.

The companies announced the partnership Thursday in separate blog posts that celebrate the possibilities for "data nerds" who can now use Foursquare's data pool for their cool research products. But advertisers and marketers are obviously desired buyers.

"Retailers will be able to study the results of local advertising campaigns," Gnip Product Manager Steve Perella said. "Financial analysts will have another valuable data point to forecast Black Friday sales. Real estate development groups will be able to better understand where they should develop new locations."

Foursquare, which is currently positioning itself to consumers as a local search app, counts 35 million registered users and more than 4 billion check-ins. The startup's data will be anonymized when it's passed on to buyers, meaning those who purchase access to the real-time stream will get location, time, date, and gender for all check-ins, but nothing else, a Foursquare representative said.

Both companies avoided the subject of fees in their public announcements, but CNET has confirmed that Gnip will charge for access to Foursquare's fire hose, and Foursquare will get a percentage of sales. Foursquare and Gnip representatives declined to share the specific financial terms of the relationship or the pricing structure, but buyers will have a choice between the full fire-hose product or a filtered version.

The partnership comes as 4-year-old Foursquare figures out how best to profit from its service. The company first started selling its version of ads, called Promoted Updates, nearly a year ago, but it has yet to bring in a substantial amount of revenue from the offering. Now flush with $41 million in debt funding, Foursquare seems ready to ramp up on sales efforts with new ad types reportedly coming later this year.