Location-based advertising grows up
Shooting the mobile messenger
Analysis Mobile advertising is huge, and only getting bigger; but can advertisers gather information without appearing creepy ... and should they bother when customers are so willing to share?
Last month O2 started delivering adverts to opted-in customers based on their location - supplementing information volunteered by customers with that harvested by the network infrastructure. But O2 is far from alone in deciding that asking nicely won't get them all the data they need, even if some of the competition just think O2 isn't asking nicely enough.
These days a plethora of location services are tracking, recording and compiling people's location information – along with their sex, age and address – all in the interest of providing targeted advertising. The companies behind the services are adamant that this is what end users desperately want, while quaking at the danger of being labelled the next Phorm.
Back in 2004, Morgan Kaufmann published Location Based Services, a book which remarkably (by today’s standards) makes no reference to advertising at all. But back in 2004 it was thought that users would pay for services rather than expecting everything for free... Turns out that the company was wrong: users would much prefer to be battered with a continuous stream of advertising than pay for stuff.
However, on the phone screen every pixel counts, so placement companies are vying to provide the most accurately-targeted advertising platform.
Most high profile of the companies involved has been Blyk, who at one point tried to fund an entire Mobile Virtual Network through targeted advertising; customers got free calls, data and texts in exchange for viewing advertisements delivered over MMS and SMS. Blyk didn't make it as an MNVO, in the UK at least, but the company now provides the engine behind Orange Bright Stuff: the opt-in consumer offering that is sold to advertisers as Orange Shots.
Blyk reckons it can make a dollar a month out of those who opt in, and with 300,000 Orange customers opted in before the Bright Stuff brand has really been promoted, that adds up to a lot of money. But unlike the Blyk's MVNO, it is not free calls or cheap offers that bribe users to sign up, but (according to Blyk) exclusive content provided by advertisers who appreciate the 25 per cent response rate that Blyk is able to promise.
That rate, which includes those who click on a link or call a number, is so high thanks to the targeting information Blyk gathers from users as part of the sign-up process. According to Blyk, the user's home address is by far the most valuable thing collected, much more valuable than the next best thing, sex, which ranks just above age, with the rest far below.
Not that the rest is worthless. Bright Stuff includes an interface allowing users to tag things in which they're interested. In return they get even-better targeted advertisements. That might sound strange - customers taking the time to share their interests with advertisers, but this is a generation used to sharing their innermost thoughts with the world, and to whom advertising is a fact of life, so if you're going to be "advertised at" anyway, you might as well take the time to make sure those adverts are pertinent.
This is good news for Blyk as it has no other source of customer data, unlike its competitors. O2 More, for example, recently started adding the users’ current location to the mix. O2 More is O2's equivalent to Orange Bright Stuff, but can now use automatically-gathered information (the customers' location) to help target ads.
Operators already know where every customer is, but have until now refrained from using that data for advertising: even Blyk told us its users thought the idea was creepy. But those who opt in to O2 More can expect to have adverts delivered to their phone based on where there are, as well as who they are.
Can't help feeling....
...that this seeming rabid desire to give away your personal details to pretty much anyone who asks is all going to come crashing down some day soon. Not quite sure how; maybe some mass blackmailing or a MASSIVE bank fraud or something, but I'm betting it will...
At the very least, I'm sure there will be millions of people waking up one day (probably the same day) and finding that they really wish they had been more careful.
My personal information is mine, not yours, not theirs, it's mine all mine. Until i open my big mouth that's the way it will always be. Any attempt at changing that without me opening my my big mouth will make me rich, and bankrupt whoever else is involved.
The E.U may make idiotic and comical decisions but in the field of data protection their rules are on the ball. Break those rules and i will squash them like a bug.
snakes belly anyone?
"click on a link advertising a car and you'll get more car adverts, ignore all shoe-related ads and they'll stop arriving"
I hope that means I dont get any advertising by not clicking on any served up links.
Advertisers are amongst the lowest of the low in my eyes, and often responsible for the shallow consumer society we are forced to live in these days.