Foursquare to sell check-in data for ad targeting, says report

The newly labeled "local search" company may no longer talk about check-ins, but it would still like to profit by them.

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
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Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley at SXSW Interactive in Austin. Jennifer Van Grove/CNET

Foursquare may be looking to monetize its business and settle up outstanding debts with an aggressive new game plan: selling the data buried behind 3.5 billion check-ins to help advertisers target their advertisements.

The company, which has shifted from check-ins to local search to compete with Yelp, is shopping around a product designed to let advertisers more finely target the ads they purchase through ad exchanges, using Foursquare's location and behavioral data, according to a report in Ad Age.

Ad Age cited "executives familiar with the situation," but Foursquare declined to confirm the existence of the product. "Foursquare is always looking at ways that could make our data more useful for advertisers and partners, while respecting the privacy of our user's information," the company said in a statement shared with CNET.

Such a product, however, would match CEO Dennis Crowley's continued statements about the unperceived value of his company's data.

Foursquare, with $41 million in debt financing to think about, is now under immense pressure to grow revenue at a much faster clip. Last year, the company collected roughly $2 million in revenue, according to multiple reports.

The service has 33 million consumer users and 1.3 million business users, according to Crowley, though little is known about the active status of these members.