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Brands Are Getting More Transparent About Data Collection

Recent data privacy regulations have forced app publishers and brands to provide clear descriptions on how and what location data they collect, but many have already embraced transparency.

Transparency lets brands make the case to consumers for collecting their data. “You've got to change the language so it's much more clear as to what the consumer gets in return, and then what data is collected and where it is getting used, or how it is getting used,” said Brian Czarny, CMO of Factual, who was interviewed for our latest report, “Location Intelligence 2020: Privacy Concerns Start to Squeeze the Supply of Mobile Location Data.”

In an April 2019 Factual survey conducted by the University of Southern California (USC), more than half of US smartphone users said they would be willing to share their location if they understood the benefits. Only 18% of respondents said that they would be unwilling to share data under this scenario.

Some apps and brands have a more straightforward case for asking for location data. “If it's a transport or shopping app, we do advise to always speak about an experience that the user will [be able to have],” said Pascal Ehrsam, CMO of contextual location marketing company Herow.

For Jersey Mike’s Subs, that means clearly laying the case for data collection. “With our new app, we created an additional screen that explains why we want [a user's] location data, not just like the standard iOS screen,” said Kelly McGee, director of digital marketing for the sandwich chain. “We took that extra step to ensure that they knew exactly why, not that we just wanted to track their data for any reason. … We want our customers to be aware of how we're using their data. We're very transparent about that.”

The case for collecting data for better advertising is harder to make, but it’s possible by highlighting the chance for more tailored offers or of getting the service for free. Whether consumers will opt in to these services in large numbers over the long run remains to be seen.

“People will need to understand that they will have ads anyway, but the only question they need to answer is: Will they allow the ads to be relevant to them in a certain context and that includes location, or would they prefer any ad because they want to keep pretty much all their data to themselves?” said Stan Coignard, co-founder and Americas CEO of S4M.

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