The year the theme around digital platforms can almost be summed up in a single word: privacy. Last week a Facebook hack exposed the data of 50 million users. This week we learned that a Google flaw had the potential to expose the personal information of 500,000 users. The year that kicked off with Cambridge Analytica, saw the rollout of GDPR and even had murmurs of regulation for tech platforms in the U.S. is also the same year that the drumbeat of consumer data keeps going strong with one data point in particular getting more attention.
Location, Location, Location
Mobile devices put location data on the map (pun absolutely intended), and it shows no sign of fading away.
Currently, Instagram is testing a setting in which it shares user location data with Facebook. This means Instagram logs user location even when they aren’t using the app and shares that data with Facebook. This gives Facebook what is essentially a complete picture of their users’ locations at all times.
Location’s been a big focus for Snapchat, which allows advertisers to target ads based on users’ radiuses around specific geographic points and location types. It also tracks users to see how campaigns drove them into physical stores to make purchases.
Foursquare, a platform you haven’t heard much of anything about for years, secured another $33 million in funding. Why? Location data. Foursquare has a panel of 25 million users that they pull location information from. This is valuable data for brands, retailers and ad platforms to get location-based data about "customers and conversion rates."
In the Age of Privacy, Location Data Remains Huge
There are numerous calls for data protection, and platforms are under pressure to reign in just how much data they collect about consumers. Currently, it’s mostly talk with very little action, as news over recent weeks can attest to. But one thing is for sure. The data signal of location shows no sign of going anywhere. If anything, it will only grow in importance as other data signals are pressured to fade away.