Consumers are generally aware of the latest tech product roll-outs—for example, recently announced devices from Apple or Android—but may not be as familiar with such finer points as location data policy. As a result, many mobile users may not realize that both Apple and Google have recently made subtle tweaks to their own stated policies. This has implications for the consumer, but also for the advertiser; in today’s post, we’ll be focusing on this latter point.
Policy Changes at Apple, Google
First, it’s important to briefly summarize these policy changes. Apple has launched a new initiative to let users know when apps are requesting their location data, via a blue bar found at the top of the screen. Google is taking a different approach; Android devices will be limited in how often they can request location data. Instead of requesting data every few minutes, Android devices will now request data just a few times per hour.
Trending Toward Transparency
These policy changes differ in their approach but are alike in their intention—namely, to provide users with greater transparency and control. This is certainly laudable, and any effort to increase transparency in the tech industry—or in advertising—is noble. Consumers have every right to know when their location data is being requested, and how often. Apple and Google are trying to address this need, albeit in different ways.
As for the implication for marketers, the main takeaway is that passive gleaning of location data is being phased out. Apps that need to gather location data more frequently will need to be brought to the foreground.
Note that the impact of these policy changes may not be equal between Android and Apple. On the whole, Android’s changes are more minor, while Apple’s changes seek to ensure that the user fully understands data sharing and has a choice in how often it happens.
The Impact on Marketing
Of course, it remains to be seen exactly how these changes will impact marketers. For now, we predict that the changes will be significant. For one thing, location data must be used wisely—and with real benefit/value offered to the end user. With mobile users increasingly aware of these data collections, it’s more important than ever that they see some reason for their information to be harvested. It’s incumbent on advertisers/app developers to provide this.
What’s more, these data policy changes underscore an important trend in advertising—a trend toward greater clarity and transparency. Users value their privacy, and want to know that they can entrust it to their tech companies and app developers. There is a need to earn trust, and being upfront about data use—as Apple and Google are both attempting to do—is a smart way to go about it.
Now the ball is in the court of advertisers and app developers who use that data. Will we find ways to do our job without requiring so much personal data collection—or will we be bolder in asserting the benefits that data collection can bring?
The Next Steps
Right now, those seem like the primary options before us. As for more immediate applications, advertisers need to study up on the specifics of these policy changes; and, to make sure they are aware of just how much location data they are using and where it’s coming from.
We’re always happy to talk with our clients about when and how we use location data, as well as any broader concerns about the state of online advertising. Reach out to the enCOMPASS team at your convenience.
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