Mobile Marketing and Consumer Privacy. The boom in targeted advertising for mobile devices has brought with it a new set of customers concerns about privacy and ethics. Mobile data collection frequently includes location-based information, with some apps requiring access to users’ GPS co-ordinates. Others ask for contact lists or directory information. While the huge leaps made by mobile marketing strategies[BC1] often serve the convenience of the customer, it also puts a greater responsibility on companies to be transparent about their use of personal data.
Earlier this year, two advertising regulators introduced new guidelines for app developers, designed to keep mobile marketing trends within ethical boundaries. The Digital Advertising Alliance and the Network Advertising Initiative announced their intention to address how marketers notify users when they collect data via mobile apps.
The Digital Advertising Alliance now requires its members to present users with a standard notice if they intend to use mobile data for advertising purposes. The move will allow users to choose whether to permit companies to collect cross-app data, directory data and locations information. The Network Advertising Initiative unveiled a similar program in July, although neither have said how stringently the guidelines will be enforced.
The government has considered introducing legislation to protect data privacy for mobile users. At the local level, some progress has been made, with Senator Al Franken endorsing the Location Privacy Protection Act in 2011. The proposed bill, which would require companies to obtain explicit consent before collection or sharing mobile data, has passed through the Senate, but the issue is yet to land on the table in Congress. In California, the government has partnered with major players including Apple, Google and Facebook in a bid to improve communication between app developers and consumers regarding mobile marketing privacy.
The challenge is welcomed by the mobile marketing industry, which has marked itself out as a more transparent, ethical business than many of its web-based forbears. Firms like EZ Texting are keeping up with the changes in regulation by clearly informing users about mobile marketing best practices. That means informing them of the need to offer easy opt-out choices, and providing clear advice on staying compliant.