Most of us now live at the slightly queasy intersection of consumerism and surveillance.
The dozens of apps on our phones, most of them free, aren’t just serving up information and entertainment. Many are able to ascertain our whereabouts based on the phone’s GPS and can then sell that geolocation data to digital marketers. Unlike traditional print or television ads, location-based marketing has the benefit of knowing where we are, whom we’re with, and whether their ads are working.
Geotargeted mobile marketing is one of the fastest growing forms of advertising — and one of the most controversial. It has arisen in part because, as more of us use streaming and on-demand viewing services, we’re watching far fewer television ads. And because so many of us carry our smartphones at all times, digital marketers have seized the opportunity to gather and sell data on where we are, what we do — and what we might want to buy. In 2017, marketers spent $17.1 billion on geotargeted mobile ads, and the research firm BIA Advisory Services forecasts that number will more than double to $38.7 billion by 2022.
Or, as Rick Ducey, a digital strategy adviser with BIA Advisory Services put it in a recent study: “Where you go is who you are.”