Smartphone Tracking & Mobile Advertising

Posted April 26, 2011 by admin @ 3:27 pm

Smartphones are quickly becoming commonplace gadgets these days. From corporate tycoons to tech obsessed teens, almost everyone owns or wants to purchase these amazing devices. The popularity of Smartphones probably won’t suffer despite the recent barrage of outrage over location based data collection. It seems that Google and Apple both track their respective consumers’ every move. While some feigned surprise over the revelation, this information shouldn’t really shock anyone.

A considerable amount of location stats stem from user generated interaction, such as mapping applications, search queries, restaurant recommendations, and the like. Of course, thousands of Smartphone users willingly reveal their exact GPS coordinates on Facebook Places and Foursquare, or simply post their whereabouts on Twitter. Perhaps consumers see a distinction between these behaviors and Apple’s. According to reports, Apple and Google maintain massive servers that stockpile user locations as frequently as every couple of seconds. Apple takes things a step further by creating files for individual iPhone users and storing detailed documentation of their movements without encrypting the data. This strikes privacy advocates as downright Orwellian, but both corporations gather these figures for advertising purposes and to improve the quality of their services. Companies need to know what’s going in order to deliver geo-targeted, relevant ads. Otherwise people would be stuck with ads that add no value to their lives. The logs also provide insight into dropped calls, internal/mechanical problems, and connection speed. Besides, what’s the harm in Apple knowing where you went throughout the day? Most people’s activities would be rather mundane, too monotonous to attract any interest. There’s no need to be suspicious, unless you’re doing something illegal or immoral.

Those bothered by the digital record keeping should probably read their mobile privacy policies in the future, preferably before joining a network. Apple released a public statement on this matter in June of 2010 and Google followed its lead shortly thereafter in December of 2010. Both companies should be lauded for their commitment to transparency, not criticized for their customers’ neglect. Additionally, it’s very easy to disable location tracking features on Smartphones. Manage the phone’s tracking capabilities through the settings menu. If you’re having trouble finding your way around, consult the owner’s manual or visit the manufacturer’s website for assistance. There are underground programs you can run that delete all the tracking data on your iPhone and computer for the truly paranoid.

UPDATE: Two plaintiffs in Florida just filed a class action lawsuit against Apple for iPhone tracking.

Filed under: Company Headlines

Super Sized Advertising

Posted April 25, 2011 by admin @ 5:17 pm

Documentary film maker Morgan Spurlock tackled the mother of all fast food giants in his 2004 film, Super Size Me. In his third cinematic foray, Spurlock explores product placement and the prevalence of advertising in American society. Spurlock explains that he decided to delve into this topic because most consumers don’t seem to realize the pervasiveness of standard marketing practices. He cites television shows and other forms of entertainment as examples of subtle product placement. Many consumers don’t seem to grasp that nothing appears on screen by accident; every camera shot is choreographed to maximize revenue for corporate sponsors.

In order to drive the point home, Spurlock obtains the project’s funding from a host of well known brands, including Jet Blue, Ban deodorant, Mini Cooper, and Pom Wonderful. The plot follows him as he meets and mingles with various company executives in an attempt to reveal what goes on behind the scenes. In exchange for meals, accommodations, air travel, and other expenses paid, Spurlock turns himself into a walking promotional tool. A few so called alternative brands, 7th Generation cleaning products for instance, hop on the bandwagon as well. For the purpose of establishing a contrast, Spurlock travels to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The city deemed outdoor advertising, such as billboards, flyers, etc., cultural pollution. Surveying the ad-free urban landscape effectively illustrates the ubiquitousness of contemporary commercialism.

The film opens nationwide on Friday, April 29th, though on limited engagement. Obviously, Spurlock aims for comedic overkill, but there’s no harm in promoting transparency in the advertising industry. For instance, he reveals the amount of funding necessary to reach the big screen along with the negotiations that deliver financial backing. The information presented in the film likely won’t alter consumer behavior in the long run. Spurlock is really selling awareness, and marketing professionals should be able to at least laugh at themselves. As an executive pointed out on camera, Spurlock’s pitch reveals a profound sense of respect for the audience. No one pulls the wool over anyone else’s eyes, and notorious consumer advocate Ralph Nadar gives listeners interesting food for thought. Perhaps the most telling topic involves the degree of control the sponsors attempt to exert over the creative process. No one wants to have their brand tarnished on screen, but there’s really no need to demand limitless oversight. Pom Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold educates the public and reminds those behind the scenes not to take entertainment so…..seriously.

Filed under: Company Headlines

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