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BizReport : Mobile Marketing : May 02, 2011

Why privacy is a big issue for mobile consumers

Sixty percent of smartphone users aren't opting-in or turning on location based services from their mobile phones. This is an issue for both local and national businesses in the mobile space, because the ability to target a consumer based on location is likely to push a more engaged consumer into their store or restaurant.

by Kristina Knight

In part two of my chat with Eric Anderson and Will Reese of White Horse, they tell us why privacy is such a core issue for consumers.

Kristina: "One recent study found that consumers are very concerned about mobile privacy, and that many believe they are being tracked mobility when they really aren't, so privacy policies and education are obviously important in mobile. What else can advertisers do at this point to correctly inform consumers about ad/tracking policies?"

Eric Anderson, VP of Marketing, White Horse: "Consumers' concerns about privacy could best be described as vague unease, rather than specific objections to specific practices, and that's actually harder for marketers to deal with. I do think we need to change the way we communicate with consumers about how we use their data. I'd be interested in seeing an app maker take a very proactive stance on this, by prompting the consumer to go through a series of screens, each with clear, simple copy and helpful illustrations, and requiring explicit opt-in to each facet of data usage before the app can be used. I have a hunch that this approach would actually net very few opt-outs and far greater trust.

Ad targeting has bigger problems because we can't have that conversation with consumers in the context of the ad itself - if we could get that level of engagement with display ads, what a wonderful world it would be. Part of the that advertisers use ad targeting so poorly that consumers are more annoyed by the ads than they should or would be. Consumers would actually like to see ads that are more relevant to them, but not the same ones ad nauseam (pun unintended)."

Will Reese, Director of Digital Futures Group, White Horse: "Keep in mind, too, that privacy concerns are not about how much we share; they are about how we share it. I've taken to referring to Danah Boyd (Microsoft researcher) whose observational research is required reading for anyone interested in privacy. Boyd argues that a successful balance of privacy and publicity arises from giving people control over their choices. According to the survey we're discussing here, users and non-users alike are confused about basic things like who has their information, how long they can keep it, and what happens when it's supposed to have been deleted. They feel out of control. We believe this is holding geolocation back. It will progress faster when brands can get on board to develop better experiences. For that to happen, consumer experience managers will need to feel confident that a general audience will be able to understand the trade-offs and to control what happens when checking in."

You can read the first half of my interview with White Horse here.

Tags: local advertising, location based services, mobile marketing, smartphones

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