Study: Mobile Users More Willing to Share Location Than Browsing History

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Business Man with MegaphoneWhen it comes to mobile marketing, consumers are more willing to share the places they go in the real-world with brands than the websites they visit, according to a new study conducted by Millward Brown. The research, which surveyed 1,572 consumers who have downloaded a mobile app in the past year, found that 43% of respondents were willing to share their location with companies, compared to just 10% who said they would share their browser history.

Sponsored by mobile messaging company mBlox, the study takes a look at consumers’ evolving attitudes toward marketing messaging on mobile devices, particularly the means and methods through which brands reach consumers on in mobile. The study places emphasis on the growing role that push messaging — either through SMS or in app notifications — is set play in the mobile marketing mix. When it comes to distributing offers, for instance, the research found that consumers not only preferred push messaging to other forms of mobile marketing, but that it was also substantially more persuasive than banner advertising or email marketing.

Location plays a big role in that as well. Of the 43% of consumers who indicated they preferred receiving offers through SMS, more than half of the respondents said they would prefer a message that was targeted based on their location. The study also found that mobile users are most likely share location with brands in order to receive relevant offers or information or requested alerts.

The findings underscore the growing role of mobile as a channel for brands to keep existing customers engaged. In fact, the research found that the act of downloading an app indicates a sort of opening of conversation with a brand, particularly when it comes to push messaging. According to the study, four out of five respondents said that downloading a brand’s app on their mobile device also meant they would be open to receiving location-based text or push notifications from that same company. And while marketers have long mined users’ website history through cookies to target ads (often roiling privacy advocates), consumers want an explicit opt-in option on mobile. The study found that nine of every ten respondents believed they should have the option to “opt-in” before a company contacts them.

For brands with apps, notifications can play key role in keeping users engaged, says  Stacy Adams, VP of marketing at mBlox: “When mobile apps first became a viable channel, and marketers went out and built applications, there was no real awareness of how difficult it would be to keep people engaged.” Events firm LiveNation, for instance, uses push messaging to notify users who have downloaded the LiveNation app about upcoming shows nearby.

Obviously, the survey plays to mBlox’s strengths, but given the data quality and privacy issues in the mobile display ecosystems, push messaging, particularly via mobile apps, offers brands a much clearer use-case for location-targeting. Instead of relying on complex data targeting and audience abstraction to find necessary scale, brands can use much straightforward targeting and analytics to engage their existing customers at the right time and the right place.

Steven Jacobs is Street Fight’s deputy editor.