Give Placed Your Location, and the Company Will Give You Frequent Flyer Miles

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Location analytics firm Placed today is launching a new app that allows consumers to share their location data in exchange for frequent flyer miles. The Frequent Flyer app, with its explicit value exchange for consumers, has the potential to show how effective mobile ads can be in driving in-store purchases.

To make the app work, Placed bought airline miles from several big airlines and will “pay” app users who provide their location data. Many apps already collect and sell user location data, but Frequent Flier is different in its transparency: “For Placed, privacy has been one of our key tenets from the beginning,” David Shim, founder and CEO of Placed, told Street Fight. “We’re being transparent with consumers about what data we’re measuring from them.”

One of the participating airlines – there are at least four – has about 100 million frequent flyer program members, the airline spokesperson said, meaning Placed will be getting data from a huge variety of willingly forthcoming consumers in billions of locations around the world. Users make the choice to opt-in to Frequent Flyer, knowing that their data is being collected by it. They will receive surveys based on places they have visited, and accrue more airline miles for each response. Users can earn up to 100 airline miles a month with Frequent Flyer.

“We want to be transparent right up front, because brands want to be able to say that this is highest quality data available,” Shim said. “When we create aggregated insights and analysis, we can go back and say, ‘How did we get this data?’ There are other methods of gathering this data that are not as transparent. We didn’t want to build a business based on opt out, we wanted to build a business based on opt-in.”

There are no ads or targeting in the Frequent Flyer app, and to sign up there is a double-opt-in process that makes the value exchange unmistakable. For consumers, the app is completely about getting them extra airline miles. For brands, the app is about what those consumers want.

“Say you’re listening to Pandora or Spotify,” Shim said. “You hear a radio ad, and if that advertiser is working with Placed we’re able to tag that ad and map it to any users who are using our apps.”

The analytics firm already has one of the largest proprietary location databases in the world. With this growing core of information, Placed can measure ad exposure to pinpoint who was exposed to mobile ads, target location at scale, and provide actionable insights into consumer behavior.

“Location data is what connects the digital world with the physical world, enabling Placed to measure the impact of advertising on offline behaviors including store visits,” said Shim. “Placed’s approach is one that is focused on privacy first both for consumers and our partners, which benefits everyone in the short and long term.”

Placed previously developed two location data sharing apps, Give2Charity and Panel App, which operate in the same transparent way – informing consumers about what data is being collected and giving them a reason to provide it. Placed’s audience generates more than two billion first party location data points every day, and they’re playing the long game with the Frequent Flyer app.

“So far the feedback has been really strong, and it’s because airline miles are something that accrue over time,” Shim said. “It’s not about instant gratification. It’s an investment of time, and we want to do that same thing. It’s about the longevity of the user, where they see extended value over an extended period of time.”

“We’re trying to give consumers back the power,” he said. “Hey, it’s your data. You should be one who benefits from it.”

April Nowicki is a Street Fight contributor.