Remember Foursquare? The once heralded ‘next king of social media’ is looking to expand on its base of 55 million users. Instead of relying on check-ins and games, the company has relaunched its core product as a mobile discovery tool. And it’s relying on commuters in Chicago and New York to see its ads and get back on the app.

The advertising blitz, both on social media streams and subway/metro lines is taking a decidedly foodie approach. The campaign is a thinly-veiled hit at Yelp and UrbanSpoon. It makes sense, a nice chunk of mobile discovery centers around what you are going to eat that day. Everyone is looking for that hidden gem of a food spot.

Jeff Glueck, COO of the Foursquare, explained the ads in a statement. “The ads really go after the idea that we all have different tastes and different friends. We shouldn’t always get the same recommendations. The local and travel guides of today could be much better with personalization. So the copy will again and again say, ‘The new Foursquare learns what you like and leads you to places you love.'”

Sounds like a plea to get the app on your phone. The company promos will focus on around 10 percent of the commuter trains in NYC and Chicago. The company has failed to capitalize on its initial growth spurt, and has been passed by in favor of other mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Viber. Now the company wants to position the Foursquare as an app that everyone can use.

Not just content with commuter train advertising, the company is turning to Facebook and Twitter for app-install ads. After those start to run, the company will push pre-roll ads via AdColony on a variety of publisher sites.

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App Unbundling

In what has been a trend of social media apps, Foursquare has reported that their app unbundling was a success. You’ve seen it with Facebook as they have stripped out functionality from the core app and spun them into standalone apps. Take Messenger for example.

Foursquare did the same thing, creating Swarm as the check-in app. Doing so saw an uptick in usage and users. The company reported a 54 percent jump in users for August when compared to August 2013. Glueck said the stats proved the company was right in making that move.

“A third of our users are using just Foursquare, one-third are only using Swarm, and a third are using both apps every 30 days. We really feel this confirms and validates our assumptions going into the unbundling.”

With the new advertising campaigns, and the food-focused approach, maybe we will see Foursquare takeoff and truly be that next social media company. Time will tell, and it has a lot more competition these days.

For those of us not in NYC and Chicago, here are the ads commuters will be seeing.

foursquare advertising

foursquare advertising

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