User “Migratory Habits” Data From Foursquare, Gowalla Prove Valuable For Mobile Marketing

User "Migratory Habits" Data From Foursquare, Gowalla Prove ValuableGeo-social startups like Gowalla and Foursquare have made the act of “checking in” surprisingly popular for a growing number of users.  It’s popularity has helped the aforementioned startups compile an ever-growing mound of data related to its user’s so-called “migratory habits,” which could be an integral aspect in the future of mobile advertising.

CNBC published a good article dissecting the concept surrounding geo-social apps like Gowalla and Foursquare trying to determine what the appeal for consumers is, what effects it has on mobile advertising, and whether the concept will gain traction outside the tech-savvy confines of Silicon Valley.  While several aspects are uncertain, one thing’s for sure- these startups are compiling a unique set of data that will be valuable in the very near future.

Acquisitions in the mobile-ad space are hot and heavy right now, with every major player from Google to Apple and Microsoft ready to make a move to strengthen their position in the race to the top.  As the big guns try to capitalize on the smart phone explosion with mobile ads that target people where they congregate, startups compiling a trove of data about users’ migratory habits could make attractive acquisition targets.  At one point in January, a Foursquare user was checking into a location every second, the company said.

Businesses lucky enough to be positioned in neighborhoods with high usage of apps like Gowalla, Foursquare and even Yelp, can utilize innovative methods to interact with their customers by doing things like offering free drinks or food to the user who checks in most frequently on Foursquare, for example, but therein lies the problem.  This so-called “geo-social” explosion that we keep hearing about is centered in a very small number of areas- restrained to the likes of Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York and Chicago just to name a few.  Outside these select areas, it’s a relatively unknown concept.

Until the apps are available on a wide variety of phones and awareness of the concept spreads to the masses, it will remain popular to a select group of early-adopters, but it won’t be long until the concept inevitably goes mainstream like social networking in general did only a short while ago.  When it does, it will provide mobile advertisers with an entirely new form of user-targeting data- something that’s not so easy to come by these days.  Either way, it should get interesting.