INDUSTRY DYNAMIC
Is the iBeacon party over before it even starts?

    

      An upcoming Federal Trade Commission workshop on geolocation targeting is a reflection of the concern specifically around the growing practice of leveraging mobile to track in-store users via Bluetooth Low Energy technology such as Apple’s iBeacon, Wi-Fi and other solutions. Potentially adding more fuel to the fire is one privacy advocate’s allegations that some marketers are tracking in-store users in order to make stocking decisions based on income and/or race.

 

“Geolocation is integrated into this growing analysis of communities and neighborhoods that is made possible by geolocation,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, Washington.

 

 

“In addition to the convenience of knowing what’s in a store, companies may decide to offer certain products that are more expensive to certain people, to discriminate against certain people because of their income or race,” he said.

 

“The growth of hyperlocal targeting needs to be investigated because of its potential harm as well as acknowledging its benefits. I think the business model is 'Let’s collect as much data as you can' and that is what the commission is going to try to pull the reins on.”

 

Growing concern

Smartphones enable users’ precise location to be determined, down to the longitude and latitude. Until recently, consumers and even brands had a fuzzy understanding of what the implications of this are.

 

This started to change last year as the number of allegations and revelations grew around how consumer data is being used.

 

 

FTC workshop

The FTC is holding a workshop on Feb. 19 to take a closer look at such geolocation tracking. Specifically, the workshop will focus on the practice of retailers and third parties tracking in-store shoppers from their mobile phones.

 

Such in-store tracking has been put forward as an important new area of mobile marketing, especially with the advent of Apple’s iBeacon and other similar technology. This is because these devices are relatively easy and inexpensive for retailers to install, enabling them to push out offers to shoppers based on the aisle they are in.

 

In addition to retailers, the technology is quickly catching on among sports leagues and concert organizers for use in outdoor venues where engaging with attendees had previously been a challenge.

 

However, some marketers are watching what is transpiring around geolocation data and are getting concerned.

 

 

From MobileMarketer

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