There are a ton of branding and marketing opportunities and we’re approached by people all the time — sponsored badges, sponsored mayorships, etc.,” Crowley told me. “What [co-founder] Naveen [Selvadurai] and I feel really good about is building two things at once — things that make it easier/more fun for our users explore the city (tips, finding friends, badges) and things that make it easier for venues to reach out to their most loyal/vocal/early-adopter users. For example, it would cost $5 for a restaurant to give my brother a free dessert for being mayor, but with Foursquare linked to Twitter (read word-of-mouth), that $5 could go a long way towards driving people to that venue. The local ad market has long been underserved — and that means one thing to a lot of companies (e.g., finding nearby doctors and dentists and lawyers and lawn care, etc.) but something different to us (cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars).
Great piece in AdAge by Alli Mooney on the future of foursquare and local businesses.