By Lisa Ciangiulli, Optism Team, Jul 27, 2012
For almost 60 years, there was a symbiotic relationship between consumers and marketers over the amount of advertising flashed on TV screens, radio and newspapers. Consumers got free or subsidized content and marketers got huge market shares in order to push their wares. The slow decline of these traditional media outlets, caused by the advent of the Internet, DVRs, satellite radio and mobile phones, has marketers scrambling for new ways to target audiences on these new platforms.
No where are the stakes bigger than mobile and mobile location. Mobile already has the highest penetration of consumers and most people have them with them 24/7. We know that consumers are highly protective of their phones and feel that mobile ads are an invasion of their personal space.
Marketers are seeking the mobile Holy Grail; the oft-repeated scenario of a consumer walking by a Starbucks while their phone beeps to alert them to a Starbucks coupon.
Meanwhile, an opposing force is gaining power. Consumers are busy declining mobile app tracking when they download new apps and turning off their existing apps which have their location.
Consumers are now more aware of how marketers are tracking them and their location.
Over at Mobilegroove, mobile rock star Joy Liuzzo tackles the concept of location awareness in her article entitled, Location Data Use & Misuse; How Marketers Must Approach Mobile Sentient Consumers. Ms. Liuzzo defines “mobile sentient” as consumers who are “aware of precisely how public their private device and behavior has become and the extent to which third-parties have visibility into it.”
There is strong evidence that marketers have become more daring in their exploitation of a mobile user’s rights and that consumers have become increasingly fed up with the practice. Ms. Liuzzo mentions a number of mobile privacy lawsuits; including a class action lawsuit against Path, Twitter, Apple, Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla, LinkedIn, Rovio (Angry Birds), Chillingo and Electronic Arts filed in March in a court in Texas. It was found that these companies were routinely accessing a user’s mobile address book and transferring it to their servers – without the user’s knowledge or permission. Not disclosing this practice to the user was a violation of their rights. Meanwhile in New Jersey, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit last month against an educational game maker who was collecting information from children and transferring it to a 3rd party company. In a Harris Interactive survey commissioned by TRUSTe, 42% of US smartphone users identify “mobile privacy” and “security” as top concerns, while 94% identify online privacy as an important issue.
The danger for marketers is that making repeated privacy violations will result in consumers turning off location access for all apps. This would be unfortunate, denying the marketer the opportunity to deliver relevant, opted-in offers in real-time (something only mobile can do) and reducing the potential value to the consumers.