The location-based social networking service Foursquare is thought to be working on the implementation of paid search ads which will be accessible by its millions of users.
Foursquare allows people to check in at almost any location and, if its plans go ahead, people will be presented with ads for local deals whenever they mark their location.
Given that more than 20 billion individual check-ins have been registered by its 20 million strong user base since it launched, this could create a substantial market and help to drive sales for those businesses that decide to become involved.
It seems that, in the short term at least, this type of location-based advertising will only be made available to users in the US, wherein users have been enthusiastic in embracing Foursquare as a service.
To this end, it is thought that Foursquare will be partnering with a number of major brands including Pepsi and Dunkin Donuts, both of which it has previously leveraged in order to monetise the free service that it currently offers.
The good news for firms based in the UK and Europe is that Foursquare's ad ambitions are not limited to its native US. Spokesperson Omid Ashtari told EConsultancy that the company was working extensively with businesses on an international basis to ensure that any future developments are not limited to America.
The UK's Foursquare user base is the largest outside of the US, which suggests that implementing a similar paid search ad system here would be rewarding for the company as well as any advertising partners.
Although Foursquare is a global force in the mobile market, it relies heavily upon offering highly local features which are unique to locations rather than homogeneous and thus less engaging. It seems likely that its users will value the option to receive offers in the form of location-based ads each time they check in, with the potential for significant offer-based savings.
Individual marketers will benefit because it will be easy to track the paid search ads' transition into tangible revenue. The customer is likely to walk straight into the place of business just minutes after viewing the promotional material, as they redeem the offer in question.
Despite competition from Facebook and other location-based services, Foursquare has remained an important force in this space. Its users value the service it provides and the wider location-marketing sector has without doubt benefited from its operations. If everything goes to plan, this latest feature will become an important contributor to future campaigns.