Is there a connection between the CIA’s purported activities and high-level location marketing?

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Recent releases by WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, claim that the CIA has developed software that can hack into the personal devices of everyday citizens. This means that the CIA can, in theory, turn on your phone or laptop camera or sound recording capabilities at anytime. The group would know everything about you – who you are, what you’re doing, and what you’re saying.

Even though these efforts are supposedly made to “protect” citizens, they certainly come across as a little creepy.

This got me thinking – how does location marketing technology play into all this?

A bit of background – my workplace, EQ Works, recently launched a platform called Locus, that allows marketers to target specific audience segments with more precision than ever before. That’s because instead of simply using geo-fencing or beacon tools, we use cellphone device IDs and cookie information to track movement.

By “listening” to the movement patterns of millions of devices round-the-clock, we are able to isolate almost any audience segments imaginable.

Want to reach all the dentists on Madison Avenue? Sure.

What about all the dentists who are hockey season pass holders and enjoy Starbucks? We can do that.

What about the dentists who work in the city, vacation upstate, enjoy hockey and Starbucks, and have kids? Not a problem.

However, I wondered if those dentists in the city who love hockey would feel that their privacy had been violated. In general, the big “P” in advertising and marketing is usually avoided. Distributors or data providers don’t really want to be questioned on whether there are privacy concerns they should be considering.

I sat with our CTO, Dilshan Kathriarchchi to find out if our advanced location marketing and the CIA’s misdemeanors are the same. Luckily, I learned that they were not.

You see, when done properly, location marketing doesn’t target people individually. Rather, it targets segments of people. So while I may target the 100 dentists who vacation upstate and enjoy hockey, I am never specifically targeting Dr. Doe by name.

At the very worst, Dr. Doe’s IP address and device will simply appear to us as one of hundreds or even thousands.

When marketing, it’s important to not always think in dollars and cents, but to think of the consumer as well. We want to provide consumers with ads in which they’d be interested, without impacting their user experience.  

I urge other marketers to keep this in mind in their lines of work because ultimately, everyone wants to feel safe and nobody likes a shady marketer.   

Nesh Pillay, Vice President of Marketing, EQ Works.

NesNesh Pillayh is a former journalist who covered international advertising and marketing as a founding reporter of The Drum’s New York team. After learning the ins-and-outs of marketing, PR, and branding from “the other side,” she started Press Pillay, a PR agency focused on digital marketing start-ups. Most recently, Nesh joined Toronto-based EQ Works where she continues to learn and embrace the art of “marketing for the marketer.”

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