Is location tracking really necessary for mobile advertising?

by Andrew Roach on February 4, 2014

As our smartphones have developed over the past few years, technologies such as Wi-Fi and NFC have enabled mobile devices to grow into multi-purpose objects that can carry out any job.

Over time, these services have become fine-tuned to such a point that the exact location of a user can be pinpointed in seconds allowing them to explore new items just around the corner.

Although this might seem convenient, businesses are starting to exploit the opening by using location-based information to send adverts to mobile users in that area.

Even though the purpose is to sell products, there are concerns over the security and the wy users are targeted. With that in mind, have companies gone one step too far in reaching out to mobile users?

It’s a matter which is still a grey area for many in the communications industry but while the purpose is clear to users, the way the information is collected is still rather discreet.

More often than not, the information is collected via sensors placed in the mall or doorway which automatically picks up on the Wi-Fi signal generated by a mobile device.

Once it detects the device, each individual signal is then stored by a central server which can then send over advertisements and other offers to users nearby.

On the whole part, the information that is stored is generally anonymous and kept to one side but more and more companies are starting to look for more details in what they collect.

Some companies, such as Viasense or Turnstyle, are starting to analyse the data in terms of social and generic data in a bid to try and pinpoint the right market much more directly.

This is quite a cause for concern as this data could disclose information that can identify a particular user putting their personal privacy at risk.

Many of the location tracking companies have declared that no-one but them have access to the data but last week’s hack attack on Bell showed just easily server information can be exploited and posted on the web.

The matter is something that both the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and mobile watchdog have been monitoring so far with no-one having acted to bring tougher conditions on those collecting the data.

It’s likely that regulating bodies won’t act on the matter for the moment unless an incident such as a targeted hack forces them to bring in new regulation.

This means that location based advertising is here to stay for the moment but firms collecting the data will need to stay vigilant to protect mobile users at any cost.

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Written by: Andrew Roach www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube

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