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Consumers Willing to Reveal Location Data, says JiWire

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 8:08am
Maisie Ramsay

A substantial portion of consumers are willing to reveal their location information in exchange for more relevant advertising despite recent concerns about the way companies handle private information, according to a survey released today by JiWire.

More than half of men and 42 percent of women are willing to disclose their location information to get ads that are more appropriate to them, according to JiWire's report, which pulled data from 315,000 public Wi-Fi locations and a survey of 2,260 customers randomly selected from JiWire's Wi-Fi media channel.

The survey also found that more than half of all customers want to receive location-specific ads and one-third are interested in receiving location-based advertising about stores close to them.

David Staas"There's a location-centric mindset with consumers," says David Staas, senior vice president of marketing at JiWire. "It certainly creates a lot of opportunity for advertisers. Consumers are more likely to engage in an ad that is relevant to their locations."

The use of location data was thrown into the spotlight earlier this summer, when lawmakers queried Apple on its use of the information after the company's updated terms and conditions suggested it was collecting and sharing data containing the exact location of people using iPads, iPhones and some other Apple products. JiWire's report seems to contradict concerns that the scrutiny of location data practices could deter consumers from adopting the technology.

The report is the fifth JiWire has released on Wi-Fi use but only the company's second report to collect data on attitudes toward location-based advertising. The company's figures on location-based ads have remained fairly steady from its earlier report, when 53 percent said they were willing to share geographic coordinates to receive more targeted ads.

Staas says that mobile device user's demand for localized content is a prime opportunity for advertisers to deliver more relevant messages to consumers. "Just as brands were challenged with how to 'socialize' themselves in the social media space, today brands need to think about how to 'localize' themselves with their consumers," Staas says.

JiWire has a vested interest in the location-based mobile advertising space. The company runs a location-specific mobile advertising network connected to Wi-Fi hot spots. When a customer accesses a Wi-Fi hot spot on JiWire's network, the first Web page they view displays an advertisement from JiWire's platform. Verizon, UPS and Cisco's WebEx are currently running campaigns with JiWire's platform on Border's Wi-Fi network

Staas believes the company's data indicates that there's a lot of interest in using Wi-Fi to access the Internet, in part because wireless operators' 3G networks are being heavily burdened by data traffic. "There's real overlap taking place between cellular networks and Wi-Fi networks when it comes to how devices get connected," Staas says.

The number of publicly available Wi-Fi hot spots continues to rise, as does the number of hot spots with free connectivity, according to the report. JiWire says its second-quarter report marks the first time the number of free hot spots outpaced the number of paid hot spots in the U.S. market.

Staas hopes the industry will use the company's report to get a better idea of what's happening with Wi-Fi connectivity. Though JiWire's report shows the majority of devices using public Wi-Fi networks are laptops, nearly one-quarter of consumers reported that a smartphone, netbook or iPad was the primary device they used on public Wi-Fi networks.

Staas believes this has implications for advertisers as they seek to understand the changing ways consumers are accessing Web content. "This report helps them better understand what people are doing and think about new ways to create effective advertising," Staas says. "It's an overall resource too for people to understand what's happening with Wi-Fi and the ecosystem."

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