Influencing the auto buying journey with offline & online signals

Online Interest Audience

At Foursquare, offline behavior is central to everything we do – we understand how people move around the world, track changes in foot traffic over time, and help brands capitalize on those behavioral trends.

We know that online behavior can be an incredibly powerful supplement to location data – expanding reach, unlocking new types of audiences and understanding phases of the buyer journey previously difficult to reach with location alone, ultimately improving performance. That’s why we’ve announced a new feature to Audience powered by Factual – online interest targeting.

Amplifying Automotive Marketing

One key industry that benefits from online interest data is automotive. Online interest data unlocks insights into new phases of the automotive purchase funnel. Savvy auto marketers can extend targeting beyond just those who have been seen at specific auto dealerships or auto body shops, reaching consumers who have been observed engaging with car-related content online, such as reviews, ratings, and more.

Let’s take a closer look at how location data and online interest data can drive better business results, from awareness, to consideration, to decision-making.


  • At the top of the funnel, we have consumers who have expressed interest in shopping for vehicles via their online behaviors, such as shares, searches, comments and likes. This audience can include a wide swath of people with varying lifestyles and life stages. For example, our data shows these users may be be:
  • young professionals who spend their days at tech startups (+11%), coworking spaces (+14%), meeting rooms (+12%), business centers (+12%) and conferences (28%)
  • non-office workers who frequent factories (+13%), distribution centers (+10%), military bases (+24%), and fire stations (+7%)
  • suburban moms who spend their days shuttling the kids from gymnastics gyms (+11%) to indoor play areas (+7%), zoos (+10%), and Chuck E. Cheeses (+32%)
  • cost-conscious empty nesters who dine out at Red Lobster (+20%), Golden Corral (+40%), Applebee’s (+23%) and T.G.I.Friday’s (+25%)
  • affluent jetsetters who visit ski lodges (+20%), speakeasies (+12%), jazz clubs (+12%) and travel lounges (+12%)

By layering location data on top of online interest data, savvy auto marketers can hone in on the right in-market auto intender (consumers who are likely to be interested in a new or used vehicle). A brand introducing a new luxury SUV may want to drive awareness amongst affluent parents, whereas a more affordable sedan model might be better suited to young professionals. Combining online and offline data enables auto brands to know both that someone is in-market, and that they’re in the target audience for your vehicle.


Taking their next step in their car buying journey, consumers start to compare specs, rates and reviews of different vehicles online.

Analyzing these users’ offline behaviors, we’ve uncovered that these researchers may be parents of young kids, wanting to ensure they have the best vehicle for their growing family – they’re more likely to visit preschools (+39%), gymnastics gyms (+32%), daycares (+30%), kid stores like Carter’s (+90%), and soccer fields (+13%). They may be professionals doing their due diligence, also likely to visit corporate cafeterias (+97%) and convention centers (+20%).

Location data indicates these consumers may be currently using different modes of transportation aside from driving, more likely to visit train stations (+19%) like Amtrak (+23%). They may be frequent travelers looking to travel more by car, frequenting rental car locations (+33%) like Avis and Hertz. Perhaps they appreciate value in all aspects of their lives and want to make sure they’re getting the best value possible, as they enjoy shopping for clothing at outlet stores (+22%) and affordable retailers like Burlington (+36%) and Kohl’s (+26%).

These shoppers may be first-time car buyers eager to make the right decision – they’re more likely to visit college bookstores (+53%), college cafeterias (+29%), college academic buildings (+26%), college stadiums (+20%), and college theaters (+20%).

Interestingly, these consumers are also more likely to be sports fans, visiting hockey arenas (+68%), sports bars (+35%) and baseball stadiums (+12%).


At the bottom of the funnel, we have consumers who are ready to make their purchasing decision at the dealership.

They may not have their minds made up quite yet – did you know that approximately 46% of people who visit auto dealerships visit more than one dealership? However, dealership visitors are certainly much closer to making their purchase decision than consumers who’ve only done online research. And if even they don’t purchase that day, 70-80% of auto dealership visitors report they would consider buying a car from that dealership in the future, according to a survey of consumers in Foursquare’s always-on panel in June 2020.

Dealership visitors are most likely to be going through other life changes that may be inspiring them to purchase or lease a new or used vehicle. For example, they’re more likely than the average consumer to visit a variety of places associated with new home ownership – construction & landscaping, home services & repairs, hardware stores, carpet stores, lighting stores, mattress stores, storage facilities, kitchen supply stores, furniture stores, post offices and garden centers. They show an affinity for brands like Lowe’s, Sherwin Williams, The Home Depot, and Menards.

They’re also likely making financial arrangements for a major purchase, visiting financial and legal services like banks and credit unions before heading to the dealership.

Location data indicates these car buyers may be in dire need of a new vehicle, more likely to also visit auto workshops like Advanced Auto Parts, Discount Tires, NAPA Auto Parts, AutoNation and Pep Boys Auto, as well as rental car locations like Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

Perhaps less expected, auto dealerships visitors are more likely to visit outdoor supply stores like Cabela’s, sporting goods stores and golf courses. They’re also more likely to enjoy a celebratory meal after their purchase at a steakhouse like Longhorn Steakhouse, or with a special meal at home after grocery shopping at Wegmans or The Fresh Market.

The Takeaway?

Online interest data unlocks new phases of the purchase funnel, enabling data-driven marketers to extend targeting beyond just those who have visited a given category or chain, reaching consumers who have been observed engaging with relevant content online, such as reviews, ratings, and more.

Editor’s Note: Foursquare analyzes foot traffic patterns from more than 13 million Americans that make up our always-on panel. All data is either anonymized, pseudonymized or aggregated, and is normalized against U.S. Census data to remove age, gender and geographical bias. For this analysis, Foursquare looked at data from April – June 2020. Survey data mentioned above is derived from a survey of consumers in Foursquare’s always-on panel, delivered via owned and operated mobile apps (Panel App, Frequent Flyer and Give 2 Charity) in 2020.

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