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The Battle for the Ad Dollars – Foursquare vs Twitter

Is it bet­ter to adver­tise on Twit­ter or Foursquare? Can 20 mil­lion users be more valu­able than 500 mil­lion? Twit­ter and Foursquare offer very dif­fer­ent envi­ron­ments yet they are two of the newest and most vibrant adver­tis­ing pro­grams in the mar­ket­place.

With the launch of the new Foursquare ad pro­gram a rival­ry has start­ed between the kings of loca­tion pro­mo­tion, and the giants of micro-blog­ging. As the online ad mar­ket expands at rapid pace Foursquare have put a stake in the ground and entered the fray with paid-for ads they term ‘pro­mot­ed updates’.

This lat­est announce­ment comes as creep­ing resent­ment mounts around the so-called increas­ing com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of social media, but grow­ing com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion sure­ly equals increas­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for those seek­ing dig­i­tal media jobs and social media jobs.

A Step in The Right Direction?

Pro­mot­ed updates or pro­mot­ed tweets, what­ev­er your poi­son, it seems that social media adver­tis­ing has tak­en a leap for­wards. Or back­wards depend­ing on your point of view, as this is the sec­ond com­merce-relat­ed devel­op­ment at Foursquare Tow­ers in the space of a week.

Cur­rent­ly boast­ing more than 20million users and around one mil­lion mer­chants, the launch of Foursquare’s pro­mot­ed updates comes on the back of ‘local updates’, which enable retail­ers to send details of pro­mo­tions and offers to poten­tial cus­tomers by location.

Just as Foursquare is offer­ing adver­tis­ers the option to drill down in the guts of its user demo­graph­ics and adver­tise ‘organ­i­cal­ly’ depend­ing on pref­er­ence, loca­tion, gen­der and age; so Twit­ter has also announced its own ‘tar­get­ed tweets’, which allow mar­keters to tar­get spe­cif­ic groups.

Pro­mot­ed tweets do already offer this fea­ture of course, but using that ser­vice means the mar­keter would have to send a tweet to all of their fol­low­ers. Tar­get­ed tweets allow audi­ence break­down into sub­sets such as loca­tion, device and application.

Who’s Already On Board?

Per­haps the most inter­est­ing thing about the whole com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion debate for those seek­ing jobs in the media is see­ing which com­pa­nies are keen to get involved with these lat­est devel­op­ments. Those join­ing forces with Foursquare and their pro­mot­ed updates include Mario Batali Restau­rants, Old Navy, Best Buy, Hertz, Hilton Hotels and J.C. Pen­ney, while Twit­ter counts British Air­ways, Coca Cola, The Wash­ing­ton Post co. and Wendy’s among its tar­get­ed tweets fans.

If it’s a bat­tle of the brands, then the lit­tle blue bird wins hands down with its raft of glob­al mega-cor­po­ra­tions. Just hav­ing Coca Cola on board would be enough to swing it for most, plus Twit­ter have already rolled out the tar­get­ed tweet ser­vice out glob­al­ly, while Foursquare seem con­tent with a share of the US mar­ket for now – albeit a big tasty share.

The stats make for some pret­ty inter­est­ing read­ing too – of its 140million active users, 79% fol­low brands in order to get exclu­sive con­tent, and dur­ing the Super Bowl 20% of com­mer­cials includ­ed a hash­tag, plus the company’s work­force has grown to fifty times its orig­i­nal size in just four years. Foursquare on the oth­er hand has 100 employ­ees, 20million users and has, in three years, gen­er­at­ed 2billion check-ins so it still has a way to go to catch up to the bird.

Such devel­op­ments must mean great things for any­one eye­ing up a career in the sec­tor. As adver­tis­ing becomes more sophis­ti­cat­ed, so knowl­edge­able mar­keters must take their place at the fore­front of this increas­ing­ly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket to help adver­tis­ers get the best return for their money.


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