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.

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  1. It honestly sounds like FUD to me. I fear some people think Google is becomming the next Microsoft (at least from a BORG perspective), but I’m not that worried. Google is allowed to do whatever they want with their platform and if location-based advertisements become too much of a PIA, than no-one will buy Android phones and the platform will crash and burn. Personally, I think Android is a sleeping giant in the sense that it will become one of the biggest players in not just the mobile/smart phone arena, but also in the Netbook (micro laptop) arena.

  2. I could care less IF AND ONLY IF it is opt-in or I can opt-out by paying a fee. Otherwise, my support/advocacy of Android would cease to exist and would actually hate it more than Apple’s closed system. I just despise 99.9% of advertising.

  3. I see it like this.

    When people I know visit Boston they tell me about places they went to visit that I never new existed before even though I drive by them everyday.

    The problem isn’t that i don’t care about all the things there are to see in Boston, it’s that I am unaware of the opportunities and things around me. LBS-Advertising is a solution to this problem.

    See, unfortunately “marketing” has taken on a bad name for some reason when in reality marketing is just a form of communication. LBS-Advertising is purely an advanced form of communication. I can’t wait for the day I never miss another nearby scenic view, a historical site, a one-time-only sale on something nearby that I was going to purchase anyways, a new restaurant, a friend I haven’t see in years who is nearby. LBS and LBS advertising are a blessing that is going to improve our daily lives tremendously.

    And if you don’t like it, don’t use it. It’s that simple

  4. I like the idea a lot actually. Also, and this is in response to what Mike S said, would a travel type program also be of interest? Like, lets say your friends visited Boston, they could blog about it, and if you were connected to the blog when you went there it would give you their reviews and thoughts. This would allow you to make decisions off people you trust (your friends) and either experience something that they have been raving about since they got back, or avoid a disaster that they had. So, if you had 5 friends go to Boston, when you were there you would have lots of options of things to do if you didnt already have an itenirary. IDK, maybe i didnt explain it well, but its just a thought!

  5. The cat is already out of the bag, various sites already have location based advertising. Usually something like meet girls in . People worry about privacy way to much when they shouldn’t (advertising) and why to little when they should (credit cards, ss#, etc.)

  6. People keep saying that there is no business model around Android…. Can’t they see what is right in front of their faces?

    1) What is the default home page and search engine for windows mobile? MSN (up to M$)
    2) What is the default home page for Iphone? Apple (up to Apple)
    3) What is the default for BlackBury? I do know (Up to Danger)
    4) Android? Google (Up to Google)

    Their revenue is based squarely on people using their search engine and clicking on sponsored adds. Every android handset is another browser pointed at Google. END OF STORY.

    Since I like the Google search engine, I for one am good with that.

    Plus, Android is open source. HTC or other phone makers do not have to include all Google software if Google comes up with something offensive.

  7. I thought Google was pretty clear about why they invested in Android (and Chrome, too). By making a mobile OS built around iPhone-class web browsing and giving it away for free, they are going to speed up the adoption of mobile web browsing.

    When people use the internet, Google makes money. That’s pretty much the position they are in. If they provide ways for people to be surfing the web more frequently, then their bottom line is going to increase. It’s in their best interest to get these advanced capabilities out to the people as quickly as possible. They don’t need to make money on the phones when they are going to be making money indirectly through people just doing more browsing.

  8. @PMax What if in addition to allowing you to write a blog about your visit to Boston you could add pictures so that your friends could know what they were looking for when they came across it?

    That app actually exists already for Android! It’s called BreadCrumz and was one of the winners of the Android developers challenge ( (

    The app Locale is also primed to do location based advertising. It currently can mute your device when you get in proximity of some location. They could easily expand it to do the same thing with advertising (plus these kids are from MIT, so this should be as easy for them as mixing Kool-Aid –

    I have no problem getting email ads from stores/sites I’ve allowed to send. But getting hammered then being told it will continue unless I opt out is infuriating. I hope LBS takes off.

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