The State of Location Intelligence: A Conversation with Gravy Analytics

One of the foundational topics in the world of local media & commerce is location intelligence. In short, this is the art and science of ingesting place data and user movement, then utilizing that data to deliver (and track/attribute) relevant content. Of course, this has gained new meaning in the privacy-first era.

So where are we in that journey? We got the chance to catch up with Gravy Analytics – one of the leading players in Location Intelligence – to tackle that question. The company recently released a report that surveyed U.S. consumers (n=1,000) on their current temperature on location sharing.

CEO Jeff White weighs in on big topics like how brands can form effective location strategies. What’s different in location intelligence today versus ten years ago? How does gen-z think about location? And what are the dynamics around the “value exchange” in getting people to opt-in to share location?

Below is our interview with White, as well as some top survey findings.

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Data Dive

According to the report…

– 73 percent of survey respondents indicated that they share their location information to improve app functionality (e.g., navigation, weather, news, or local discovery).

– 39 percent share location to download and use apps for free

– 23 percent share location to receive relevant ads and promotions.

– 73 percent want their aggregated and anonymized location data to be used to improve emergency response management during natural disasters.

– 45 percent want their location data to be used to improve the quality of key public services like public transportation.

– 31 percent “love” or “like” the fact that their location information is used to target or personalize information for them in an app or on a website,

– Top reasons for this sentiment are receiving offers and promotions for relevant products (71%), seeing ads for relevant products (56%), and getting a more personalized customer experience (52%).

– 68 percent are concerned about data privacy and protection.

– 62 percent are concerned about data being traceable to them as an individual

– 54 percent are at least somewhat comfortable with aggregated and anonymized location data collection and are confident that it cannot be traced back to them as an individual.

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In Context

Going behind the numbers, what are the top strategic takeaways? Here’s our interview with White…

Starting generally, if there’s one overall high-level takeaway that synthesizes the many survey findings, what would that “headline” be?

Perhaps the biggest takeaway we saw from our survey results is that consumers are open to companies using their location data if it leads to personal or societal benefits, but concerns about data privacy and protection are still top of mind for many consumers.

Despite these encouraging findings [SEE FIGURES ABOVE], data breaches and data being traced back to them as individuals were top concerns for respondents. It’s clear that although consumers are generally receptive to the advantages that location data can provide to improve their lives and society at large, more work needs to be done in the industry to educate the public on how this information is used and how data is secured.

Going deeper, the “value exchange” for users opting in to share data has always been a key theme in mobile marketing. What do these survey sentiments say in terms of the current environment, and any advice for mobile publishers or marketers in terms of what they need to do to boost opt-ins?

Through our survey results, we learned that 31% of consumers “love” or “like” it when companies use their location information to target or personalize information for them in an app or on a website. While this number could stand to increase in the future, the good news is that when asked to explain why they love/like it, respondents indicated that their top reasons were key marketing and advertising-related benefits, such as receiving offers and promotions for the products or experiences that interest them (71%), seeing ads for things they want to buy or activities they want to participate in (56%), and getting a more personalized customer experience relevant to their interests and lifestyle (52%).

To improve opt-in rates, mobile app publishers and marketers should actively promote to consumers the benefits of sharing location data. These benefits could include a more personalized experience within the app or the opportunity to receive more relevant offers.

How do those sentiments differ from the past? Are younger generations more (or less) privacy-sensitive in terms of being digital natives?

Our survey found that 74% of consumers aged 18-34 love, like, or are indifferent to companies using location data to target ads to them, but when looking at respondents aged 35 and above, this number decreases to 63%. This suggests that younger consumers are more open to location data being used for targeted advertising than older consumers.

However, when asked if they are concerned that the location information that they’ve shared could be traced back to them as individuals, 72% of respondents in the 18-34 age range answered “yes,” compared to only 57% of those aged 35 and above, suggesting that younger consumers may also be more privacy sensitive. It’s possible that younger people, having grown up with computers, smart phones, and the internet, are more aware of the potential risks and consequences of sharing personal data online.

How is all of the above impacted by greater transparency at the OS level for location tracking? Do apps and advertisers have to work harder to get that opt-in?

Greater transparency at the operating system level can positively impact how app publishers and advertisers collect location data. For instance, increased transparency can make it easier for users to understand and control how their location data is being collected and used. Additionally, greater transparency at the OS level can help ensure that app developers and advertisers are complying with laws and regulations related to data privacy and protection. These things can strengthen user trust and make it easier for consumers to opt in to sharing their location information. Overall, greater transparency at the OS level can be beneficial for users, app developers, and advertisers alike, as it can help to build trust and ensure that location data is being collected responsibly.

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