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Location Based Marketing: How Much Loss of Privacy will Consumers be Willing to Tolerate?

Image credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock
  Location-based marketing provides advertisers the ability to connect with consumers through their mobile devices based on location. While the technology and the marketing practice is not new, the practice of location-based marketing has, until now, been tempered by concerns over personal data collection and sharing. Consumers who receive ad messages while walking or driving past an advertiser’s location often tell of an uneasy sense of having their movements watched or monitored. A sense of paranoia is heightened and initial experiences with the practice leave many with a “creepy feeling”. But a recent survey by RIS News and global research and advisory firm IHL Group indicates that 58% of retailers in North America say that they plan to invest in proximity or location-based marketing in 2019. The report indicated that 85% of the high performing respondents to the survey view performance-based location tracking as very important to their marketing strategy. However, concerns about the trafficking and sharing of personal location data remains a large concern amongst consumers and many marketers. In an early 2019 survey, 59% of respondents said overreaching concerns about consumer privacy was one of the three leading factors that prevented them from implementing location-based initiatives. Going forward, responsible companies will avoid connecting with audiences around personally sensitive locations and adapt and evolve to new federal and state legislation. Adhering to three basic fundamental elements: regulation, a proliferation of new data sources, and attribution will be critical to a successful location-based marketing campaign. Restaurants, grocery vendors, sponsors of special events, automobile sellers and seasonal brands can benefit the most from geotargeting campaigns. What is next for location-based marketing? The rollout of 5G will create massive sources of highly accurate location data, coupled with billions of new sensors being deployed in every device imaginable. The utilization of geographical tracking and mapping apps like Waze is allowing for marketers to not only see where consumer targets are currently located, but also where they are going. The team at Waze refers to this newest solution as “destination-based marketing.” Waze will use driver navigation data to help advertisers anticipate where consumers are going and ultimately attempt to influence decision-making through mobile marketing. “Destination-based marketing is about driving people to a store, curbside, drive thru. It is about getting them there. It is about impacting people on the go. Location-based marketing is about the consumer’s current geographic location, not their next one,” says Suzie Reider, managing director of Waze Ads. “Waze Ads is shifting to destination-based marketing as a newer industry term to describe the next step beyond location-based marketing, which is more common in the industry at the moment.” Ultimately, geographically-based marketing utilization and success will be determined by consumers’ concerns about the free market trading of their data and the diminishing effect it has on personal privacy. Consumers beware! Sellers are watching. They now know where you live and where you are, and soon will be able to predict, with accuracy, where you are going next. Scary?