A few weeks ago, we dove into the great location-sharing debate. Negative perception is the common theme, but in further examining why location data is shared and what’s done with it, the bottom line is intended to benefit both businesses and consumers while reducing mass-marketing noise.
But now it’s getting even more controversial – security researchers say that iPhones are “quietly sharing the location data of tens of millions of mobile devices” with third-party data companies that in turn, monetize that data. This sounds invasive.
How exactly is this happening? Simply put, many apps on your phone have code embedded that can detect and send precise location and identifiable data to aggregate in a data cloud on a constant basis. That data is formulated into valuable segmentations and attributes, which data companies, marketers and brands use to better engage with their audiences.
Recent articles suggest that this data is not being used in the way that apps are telling their users it is. The privacy sharing option is easily glossed over with the perceived double-edge sword – seemingly if you don’t agree to terms, you can’t use the app. Some companies are losing credibility as they’re being perceived as legally unaccountable for their claims/practices and self-regulation. If negative consumer repercussions did occur as a result of this data sharing, they were not explicitly mentioned. Some noted “problems” seen as a result of this user data debate include:
- Data firms, agencies and/or brands pay app developers to collect this data and grow their databases.
- Location-based data companies are relying on “self-regulation” of privacy policies.
- Smart-phone users are seemingly becoming fearful – as if being watched – and personal information is “quietly sent off to some entity who they do not know and do not have any desire to do business with.”
We’d like to dive into these issues further to address concerns, educate audiences and restore confidence in mobile users that you can own the power of your data.
Issue 1: Monetizing App Developers
This is painted in a negative light, and we get it. But, let’s look a bit deeper. Why do apps exist?
A well-designed mobile app is faster than a website. Apps generally store local data on mobile devices versus web servers. This helps apps deliver better consumer experiences by storing preferences and “smartly” communicating with users. As a result, we as consumers get instant gratification such as customized gaming, personalized shopping, instant directions, recommendations, and reviews. And we’ve been programmed to expect instant gratification with free, perfectly running apps that make our lives easier.
But there’s a lot that goes into building a well-designed mobile app. Coding, integrations, building on multiple platforms, version updates – and that doesn’t even start to skim the surface of content. Good apps aren’t created overnight. Companies pay billions of dollars to make apps, as significant development work is required. App developers who fund their own, do so in hopes of building a profit through purchases, upgrades or even mobile advertising. (And, note that they’d prefer not to rely on mobile advertising because it can detract from their consumer’s experience).
Ultimately, app developers need to make money! Here’s a scenario: if your personal assistant wasn’t compensated, the quality of service likely wouldn’t be sustainably top-notch for long. Monetizing app developers can allow them to constantly improve their apps and increase user satisfaction. That means, the app is better, and consumers are benefiting.
Issue 2: Location data companies and apps are “self-regulating” privacy sharing
In this digital era, we’re constantly evolving the way we deliver and receive data. Placing an ad in a publication is no longer the recommended strategy. Overall impressions don’t really matter as much as getting through to your target audience. Consumers are constantly inundated with communications and information, and it’s the evolution of contextual targeting enabled by machine learning and AI that cuts through the noise and delivers what consumers find valuable. As marketing and advertising strategies evolve, so does everything pertaining to the inputs that drive them. This includes data.
Brands historically have relied on third-party data. First-party data is also, of course, valuable, as it comes directly from the source and alleviates privacy concerns. For example, you frequently visit and purchase from a specific retailer site, and now that retailer has an idea about your likes to better serve you going forward. But third-party data comes from aggregators. It’s a compilation of various first-party data at a much larger volume that can be categorized, segmented and publicly available. This is the data that is seemingly feared because there’s a lack of transparency in the data sources. And because of that perception, data collectors and aggregators are also advancing with the times and creating policies and procedures that respect user’s choice to share data. Third party data is valuable because of its contextual capabilities. For example, brands can use this to deeply connect with their audiences through relevant marketing, but the consumer wants transparency into how this deep connection evolved.
Issue 3: The perceived “fear of being followed”
Sure, this can be all twisted to sound negative, and lately collecting mobile user data has been made out to sound worse than it is. While attributes and behaviors can tie into an IP address or your type of mobile device, it is anonymous. You’re sharing anonymous data that doesn’t hunt you down. It’s intended to give you something personalized and relevant. And if that annoys or scares you, there are increasing regulations to ensure you are aware of this and can easily opt out.
When it comes to fully understanding content and context, app publishers are the most plugged-in to the right data. The app publisher’s data drives the deep contextual targeting that drives agencies, brands and marketers to develop the right strategies to ultimately drive the most relevant content delivery. As a result, the end users see a brand’s message that is most in line with their interests.
How LOCALLY is changing this landscape
At LOCALLY we respect user’s privacy and developed a model that puts the user in the driver’s seat. We believe in the democratization of consumer device data. Your data is valuable and it’s yours. If you decide to share location data, we compensate you for doing so. Furthermore, our solutions are compliant with data regulations and built on blockchain technology – providing transparency, integrity and sovereignty so users know exactly what they’re sharing and what’s being transacted. Those who’ve been left out of the consumer data equation are now invited to participate with app publishers, maintain control and reap the rewards.
Follow us to learn more about data-sharing, democratization of data, and taking control of how your information is used.
Report: Location Data Monetization in iOS Apps https://guardianapp.com/ios-app-location-report-sep2018.html
Dozens of popular iPhone apps caught sending user location data to monetization firms https://techcrunch.com/2018/09/07/a-dozen-popular-iphone-apps-caught-quietly-sending-user-locations-to-monetization-firms/