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Is Foursquare’s Credit Card Deal Too Little Too Late?

Foursquare Burger King Offer VISABe honest, how many of you REALLY use Foursquare?

Yesterday, AdAge reported on a new program being rolled out by the company with Visa and MasterCard that mirrors a program they have had in place for a while with American Express.

Looking to unlock a new revenue stream, Foursquare is announcing new partnerships with Visa and MasterCard that will let credit and debit card holders claim discounts at participating retailers.

The deal is essentially replicating what the company has had in place for going on two years with American Express, a program that enables people to “sync” their credit cards with Foursquare to claim discounts that appear as credits on their statements simply by checking in to a participating location.

Ironically, the first program that is rolling out will be with Burger King. While it may look like this is some kind of response to BK’s social media woes of late, it’s not. You can’t throw a program like this together in a week. This is just an interesting timing quirk, that’s all.

What was most intriguing about the article, though, was the assessment of Foursquare as a business. Let’s just say it’s not very flattering.

“This is going to be a pretty core part of our revenue model going forward,” [product manager Noah Weiss] said.

Foursquare’s assertion of a promising new revenue stream comes at a time when enthusiasm for the four-year-old startup among marketers and investors alike appears to be waning as user growth slows and its ad product — promoted “updates” from merchants — sees slow adoption. The Wall Street Journal reported in November that the company was looking to raise another $50 million and was having a tough time winning over investors.

As marketers it’s important to look at the long term viability of platforms that you invest time and resources in, correct? If Foursquare is showing signs of slowing down, especially in the wake of Facebook Nearby and Facebook’s Graph Search and Google Offers and (insert big competitor here), one has to wonder if this is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Heck, if investors are wary of throwing any more money at Foursquare should you be just as concerned as a marketer?

What are your thoughts?

  • http://aboutfoursquare.com/ Chris Thompson

    Is this deal with Visa and Mastercard going to “save” Foursquare? No. Will it bring in a little bit of cash in the short term? Sure.

    It seems a lot of the tech elite have moved on from Foursquare, so a lot of the hype has died down, but I still see LOTS of people who are checking in. It’s becoming a much more mainstream service, and thus carries value for marketers.

    In my eyes, Foursquare’s money troubles are tied more to the Facebook IPO fiasco than they are to any failings at Foursquare. The company was valued very highly before the Facebook IPO, but as investors realized what a debacle that was, it became very difficult for them to raise money at the same valuation. I have no doubt they’ll do a down round and move on.

  • http://www.sociallyengagedmarketing.com/ Charity Zierten

    With the decline in Groupon use (and value) and Facebook’s renewed commitment to the concept of check-ins, this may be the perfect timing for Foursquare to attempt a comeback. I only use Foursquare when I travel or when I’m looking for a deal on my dinner. I think Yelp has the review market cornered, but I do read reviews on Foursquare.

    The fact that Foursquare chose Burger King to launch this says quite a bit, namely that piggy-backing on the marketing efforts of Burger King will definitely increase Foursquare’s reach and use of their app, especially if there are POP displays at checkout and drive-thru.