October 22, 2014

Make it All Opt-in and Stop Worrying So Much

The Center for Digital Democracy sure thinks that Google is up to no good with Android. Because a specific business model has not been defined by Google yet, they are playing the assumption game. They are assuming that Google plans to make Android the tool for which they start rolling out location-based advertising. This is by no means a surprise, nor is it that big of a deal.* Isn’t this one of the very first things people started talking about when Google announced the OHA? Free phones, free rate plans, and all the location based stuff you could stomach?

“Google’s Android is a sleeping giant,” he says. “People don’t really understand what’s about to emerge: A new kind of data collection and advertising, with huge implications for privacy. – Jeffrey Chester, founder of Center for Digital Democracy

You know what? My computer collects little bits of information on me already. And you know what else? I get ads on my screen for stuff based on my location. Although not precise to streets or intersections, I know that my IP is giving me away when I visit certain sites. I would have opted into those ads, nor was I ever given an opportunity to opt out. Heaven forbid I get some ads to department or grocery stores to save me money.

One scenario I can see ads like these helping me out would be a restaurant. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to dinner and forgotten the coupon on the counter at home. I would actually love it if I got within a block of the building and it prompted me with a promo code for half off a dinner. National chains could benefit greatly from something like this. Imagine all Papa Johns locations letting you know about free breadsticks with a large pizza. Maybe you weren’t decided on dinner yet, but since you asked to subscribe to their alerts, now you have coupons.

From an marketing perspective I would love to get involved in location-based advertising. If it’s handled at all like AdWords is, you can monitor how effective certain campaigns are. Was it the flat-dollar rate or percentage off ad that performed better? You’d also be able to go in and make changes to your ads in a matter of seconds. Think of all the money you waste with print campaigns that never get read or the big billboard that nobody drives by. Location based ads would only show up if someone is there. Like today’s web advertising, you only pay per impressions and clicks.

I think that if you make this opt-in rather than opt-out, you should be okay. It would put the burden on the advertisers by making them vie for your attention. If you have a good enough deal, people will come. Don’t flood me with today’s drink of the day. Instead, let me know I can save half off my specialty coffee if I come in and show you my code. It’s not like you are going to have hundreds of people coming in every day.

In today’s economy, I would be willing to go with deep discounts to attract new customers. Even if these ads expanded beyond the scope of Android handsets, I’d want to help grow my clientele. It will be some time before this type of advertising grows to compete with the likes of newspaper and radio, but I believe it could prove to be more beneficial.

I realize that I might have over-simplified this whole thing, but I can’t help thinking that this is much ado over nothing. How about around 10 years ago when everybody was afraid to order things over the internet or do online banking? Remember all of the privacy concerns then?

While it’s not as basic as subscribing to alerts like RSS or Twitter, but I can’t imagine the ideas being much different. “May we add you to our location based advertising list?” might be something you hear from your clerk at Barnes & Nobles before too long. We’re probably not that far off from the day where your able to go to Target’s website and subscribe to geo-alerts.

You Tell Us
How do you feel about location-based advertising? Are you for or against it? How would you go about suggesting it gets worked out? Did you expect it to happen anyways?

*To me.