Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Dear Foursquare and LivingSocial: Thanks for the Ad! (Seriously, Thanks for the Ad.)

Dear LivingSocial and Foursquare,


I tend to be a griper, not a praiser. And I’ve griped about you guys in particular before. So I just want to make sure I’m fair about this, and slap you both on the back: You just sent me a daily deal I think I want, right to my iPhone.

Why bother to note this? Because, while location services — like Foursquare — and daily-deal distributors — like LivingSocial — are supposed to do this all the time, they never do. Instead, the daily-deal guys just tell me about discounted Brazilian Honey Waxes, and the location guys don’t really do much at all — they just let me tell my friends I’m having tacos for dinner. Again.

(See? Griping.)

But look what you guys just did: You took data from Foursquare, which let you know that I like to get expensive cheese and meat and beer from Stinky, an expensive cheese-and-meat-and-beer store right by my place. And you sent me a daily deal, via Foursquare, for … Stinky.

I didn’t have to check any boxes in advance. And I don’t have any problems with you guys using the Foursquare data to target me. Because if I did, why would I bother checking in with Foursquare, anyway?

I’m not sure I’m going to actually pony up — I’ll have to do the math on my annual cheese budget. And if I were going to gripe, I’d say that asking me to sign up for LivingSocial to actually purchase the deal is a hoop you guys should leave out if you can. Better to win my trust first, then ask me to sign up for more, right?

Anyway, back to praise: I have no idea about the mechanics involved here, but in my mind, it’s not crazily difficult. LivingSocial (newly flush with cash) matches its available deals against Foursquare’s database of check-ins, and, voilà. Of course, if it were that easy, we would have seen a lot of it by now, right?

My colleague Tricia Duryee, our e-commerce expert, assures me that all of you guys, from Groupon to Google, are struggling to get your heads around this stuff. This seems like a very promising start. Please keep it up.

[Image: Shutterstock/Kalmatsuy Tatyana]

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald