Yeah, go figure! After months of NSA scandals and a solid year of media and stock bashing of the once shiny Apple brand, both entities retained consumer trust more than all other major digital media brands when it came to mobile privacy, according to mobile research firm uSamp.
The company polled 850 mobile users about what kinds of data they are willing to share on mobile apps, the companies they trust and the general level of concern they have about mobile privacy. It turns out that 32% of respondents said they trusted Apple most with their personal data, followed by the U.S. government (29%), followed far behind by Google (16%), Facebook (10%), Microsoft (9%) and Twitter (4%).
Overall, consumers seemed a bit less frantic about mobile privacy than watchdogs, regulators and journalists who cover the issue. Only 17% said they were “very concerned” about mobile apps accessing their personal information. Moreover, 30% voiced “slight concern,” and the majority (53%) were either neutral on the issue or “not at all concerned.” Very few of those surveyed have taken strong action on this issue, with only 4% writing their congressmen and 4% having switched service providers. Indeed, only 8% of app users say they actually changed their app settings, changed a password or turned off GPS because of privacy concerns.
Which is not to say that consumers are wholly complacent in their behaviors, but that they have developed digital reflexes around the kinds of data they even allow into the digital sphere. For instance, 86% of respondents said they will not share their credit card or bank information with an app. Likewise, 64% will not reveal medical information and 56% will not share their home address. Location-sharing seems to be a lower bar, however, with only 35% saying they will not share this data.
For many mobile marketers, geolocation remains the most common and valuable targeting in the mobile portfolio. According to a survey of its own ad campaigns, mobile ad company xAds found 90% using some form of geotargeting in Q2 2013, an increase of 30% just from the previous quarter. Also growing in popularity is the use of location to persuade consumers to an alternate brand when they are in a stone’s throw of the competition. xAds also found that 30% of campaigns were doing some kind of geo-conquesting. The tactic is especially strong in the categories of restaurants, retail, financial services, travel and gas/convenience stores.
Geo-conquesting can take two forms. An ad can target a person while he or she is in a location with a nearby competitor, or a history of a user’s visits to a group of locations can be used to identify them as a good target for certain brands.
Location data is also being used increasingly to establish attribution. Precise location-based information about a user can be tied to the mobile ads to which they were exposed. That ad-exposed user’s subsequent behavior can be associated with visits to a precise location to establish the ad’s effectiveness in driving store traffic.
Mobile devices have often been considered a kind of third rail when it comes to digital privacy. Many of us presumed that whatever complacency about privacy and tracking consumers showed online,
the mobile device’s ability to track such personal movement information would trigger heightened concerns about privacy and control. And in some measure it has. Surveys of consumer attitudes
seem to be all over the map when it comes to registering privacy concerns, so it is still unclear how much mobility will trigger deeper concerns. A survey from privacy-related products company Truste
earlier this month found that 92% of respondents claimed they will not share location information with mobile publishers, which is a far cry from the 35% that uSamp found in its survey.
Different questions, different survey contexts and tones? Hard to say at this point which statistic is closer to the truth. Attitudes toward privacy are themselves situational. They are triggered by events, heightened by the context of the questions and surrounding concerns. Perhaps the key question or marketers is not how much will consumers bear but what developers, marketers and publishers can do to earn consumer trust.