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BizReport : Mobile Marketing : April 14, 2011

Consumer interest in LBS low, social networkers most likely users

Location-based apps - everyone is talking about them but is anyone actually using them? Not really, according to new research from digital marketing agency White Horse, because no-one is too sure what they're actually for or whether they're safe to use.

by Helen Leggatt

Facebook-Places-Logo.pngAccording to White Horse, if location-based apps were more widely understood and valued by consumers they would be more popular. However, as it stands, more than 60% of smartphone users still aren't using location-based services.

Most of the non-users who do know something about this type of app are either "not interested" (56%) or "have concerns" about them (24%).

What's holding them back? According to Will Reese Ph.D, cultural anthropologist and Director of the Digital Futures Group at White Horse, most consumers have privacy concerns, have difficulty understanding the benefits of location-based services, or believe the apps are redundant to how they already communicate.

Consumers scratch their heads at the thought of why anyone would care what restaurant they are eating in, or worry that broadcasting their location is a safety issue. Clearly there needs to be more communication as to the value of exchanging information about their location and how that information is collected and used.

White Horse's findings show a strong link between social media use and location-based service use. Those who are heavy users of sites such as Facebook are young, active social network users and are more likely to take advantage of services such as Facebook Places.

In fact, White Horse suggests that location-based services are an extension to social networking.

"To think that users will adopt a branded geolocation app that is unmoored from existing social experiences is not realistic," says the report titled "Lost in Geolocation: Why Consumers Haven't Bought It and How Marketers Can Fix It".

"Instead, the approach we recommend is to mine existing networks for rich insight about customer behaviors and needs, and use this information to generate ideas for appropriate location-based experiences."

Earlier this year Microsoft came up with similar findings regarding privacy concerns and social networking correlation. Their research also revealed that half of respondents would be more comfortable using location-based services if they were given the ability to manage who sees their data.

Tags: geolocation, location-based services, mobile apps, mobile marketing, smartphone, social networks

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