Commentary

The Emergence of Always-On App Aids Suitable Value Exchange

Supported by OS-provided location services and expanded permissions, as well as by the emergence of artificial intelligence-based “background” services like Siri, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa, 2016 marks the inflection point for branded apps seeking “Always-On” permission.

The goal is to access user location and motion patterns in order to better understand, anticipate and serve changing customer interests and needs.

In addition to apps and services you would expect to seek Always On tracking (Facebook, Google/Waze, Inrix Traffic, Weather apps), we have recently seen the launch of updated apps with “background services” or “always on” capabilities from Uber, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Redfin, Farmers Insurance and Bank of America.

Fitness chain Orange Theory requests the permission in order to let subscribers know when they are near a location and/or have a scheduled workout. Even recipe app Epicurious uses it to help users “find seasonal ingredients and available offers nearby.”

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All are taking advantage of OS location settings that permit users to determine one of three permissions: Never—While Using---Always.

These permissions can be managed in the privacy section of iOS and Android. Brands can also establish privacy settings within their company’s apps to enable easier management by consumers.

Answering WIFM? Overcoming Hurdles To Opt-In, And Implementing Best Practices

Many brands have sought to implement location and a variety of proximity marketing services. Most have offered few compelling reasons within, or adjacent to, the mobile app experience for many of their users to opt in.

Also, clumsy location access tools, whether from third-party vendors or provided by the OSes (like the iOS Significant Location Change capability) have impacted battery life and user experience once permission has been granted.

Ultimately, most brands have failed, to date, to answer most consumers’ simple “WIFM” question: “What’s in it for me?”

But things are changing rapidly. Brands are now aligning permissions with valued behaviors and opportunities; they are timing the presentation of permissions in a more sophisticated and natural manner. Rather than ask immediately upon app install, they wait until the desired action is triggered and then provide the permission.

This has a clear positive effect on opt-in behaviors.

Finally, app developers are learning that location and motion data relative to physical locations can lie at the core of their app and loyalty experience, not on the periphery as a bolt-on. They see the opportunity to update mobile wallets within host apps with offers when users trip a lease line, or to provide timely reminders and rewards when a user drives past their store or branch.

Or an affiliate partner for the tenth time that week, or to surface deep features buried in bank or insurance apps, like tracking Vehicle Identification Numbers when shopping for a used car or getting an instant insurance quote.

Next Phase Of Omni-Channel Engagement: Blending Real-time Virtual, Physical Data

Smartphones are generating billions of unused signals that, when properly accessed, classified, and acted upon provide a compelling new opportunity to understand, anticipate, and serve customers’ needs across both virtual and physical properties, and in near real-time.

This is new terrain for marketers and consumers alike, but those who navigate it successfully will gain a dramatically deeper level of engagement with favored brands who know how and when to ask, and are consistent in delivering value.
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