Who’s Watching You?


By Distinguished Professor Robert M. Donnelly




Unbeknownst to many, where they’ve been and where they’re going is being tracked to determine what they are going to do next. Their smart devices are functioning to transmit their travels from place to place so that marketers can capture their behaviour and consumption patterns to formulate target promotions specifically attractive to their psychographic profiles.


Smart phones have become ubiquitous and technology more accurate, and along with it an industry tracking people’s daily activities has developed that now represents a $21 Billion location targeting business. More than 75 different companies capture precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news, weather, and other information. These companies also sell, use, or analyse the data to cater to advertisers, retail outlets, and even hedge funds seeking insights into consumer behaviour.


The mobile location industry began as a way to customise apps and target ads for nearby businesses, but it has now morphed into a data collection and analysis machine. Retailers now look to these tracking companies to tell them about their own customers and competitors.

Marketers are looking at this tracking data to understand who a consumer is, based on where they’ve been and where they are going, in order to influence what they are going to do next. For example, one company caters to personal injury lawyers developing ad campaigns targeting people anonymously in hospital emergency waiting rooms.


Target advertising is by far the most common use of all tracking data being collected. Facebook and Google dominate the mobile market, and also lead in location based advertising. Both companies collect data from their own apps to personalise their services, sell targeted ads across the internet and track whether the ads lead to sales at brick and mortar stores. Google receive s precise location information from its apps for a variety of other uses.


As technology continues to evolve your smart devices like your iPhone and smart watch will begin talking to you through Siri targeting you via voice. Likewise, with more and more new cars being equipped with Amazon’s Alexa and Echo technology, your car will also begin explaining the latest promotions targeted specifically to you as you drive. They will also be enabled to let you purchase whatever they are promoting via voice commands, as well.


In the not too distant future you may become bombarded day and night with voice messages at home, in your car, in the office, and wherever you are walking. Obviously, you will have to be able to turn these messages off, or store them for listening at a later time, or else your entire day may become a flurry of conversations between you and all your smart devices.


As you have already begun to notice more and more people are walking around with ear buds talking to others through their smart phones as they move through their daily routines.


Robert M. Donnelly, a Distinguished Professor at Rushmore, is an author, educator, and brand builder. His book: Personal Brand Building for Life. is available on Amazon.

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