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Location-based data mining...

posted Nov 8, 2010, 3:38 PM by Mark Harrison
As we discussed in class last week, location-based marketing is an emerging social media application that promises interesting value to marketers. Consumers submit another layer of data about themselves (in this case, where/when they are geographically) in exchange for some promotion from a merchant. On the surface, this exchange isn't that different from what see in TV/media: in exchange for your attention/time spent viewing advertisements, you gain access to media content.

However, in location-based applications, there is a more implicit tradeoff that consumers may not fully understand. By sharing geo-data with marketers, they are opening up a new layer of data about their lives that can be used for many purposes. Hailey already mentioned in class the "Please Rob Me" site that demonstrates how easily geo-data can be exploited, but if we assume a certain level of security within applications, my concern would be how these applications might resell geo-data to marketing intelligence firms. Behavioral profiling is a big part of marketing, but to what extent are consumers aware of the implicit tradeoff they are making when using location-based services? To some extent, this problem exists in search engines and browsers as well, but I think people have become more aware of it, and to some extent privacy concerns hamper certain policies and tactics (ie, Facebook's Beacon). It seems to me that location-based services may be opening up a pretty big gray area when it comes to profiling and targeting.

-Mark Harrison

Some more background on LBS marketing applications: