Tracking your Smartphone

Tracking of smartphones by developers Apple and Android

If you have a smartphone, your movements are being tracked from your home to perhaps a gas station, a specific retail store to perhaps even separate departments within said store. Many stores are encouraging customers to use their store App by touting special sales or coupons, and once you sign up they begin tracking you.  Apple and Android smartphones have a hidden feature called “Frequent Locations” which keeps track of your locations and long you stay over a given time period. It also extrapolates the data, based on frequency and long you stay there to decipher where you live and work plus it communicates with your car so it can remind you where you parked.

Some people expressed concerns over whom might be accessing their “Frequent Location” information on the iphone. In response, Apple vowed not to share any data it collected without the user’s consent saying “It’s kept solely on your device and won’t be sent to apple without your consent.” Apple says the tracking software is intended to provide customers with personalized service like predictive traffic routing. If you have an Android, all tracking data called location history is being sent straight to Google. However, on the positive side, app developers don’t just get access to your location when they sign up- you have to allow the service to pull your location.

Tracking through WiFi

Most people leave WiFi on by default on their smart phones. While at home we don’t want to use any of our data allotment so its set to WiFi, and then forget to turn off the WiFi  when we venture out. Triangulation by WiFi hotspots can be used by advertisers or others to track your movements through perhaps a shopping mall.  Because each device has a unique signature, it will be known whether you have been there before.  This can be useful for security to see if someone maybe casing the joint or by a retailer who wants to track repeat customers. The technology uses Wi-Fi, GPS, Cell Towers, IP address and device sensors that improve device location.

Companies like Skyhook, and Navizon tap into to your Wi Fi signal to track location, movement within stores, and track your advertisement response.  Skyhook’s mobile location technology processes trillions of location signals annually, and focus on the Journey your customer takes rather than a single point of location data to make a decision.  Such as, a possible customer shows through GPS that they’re near your store so an in-app advertisement is sent to them, but this is not really as focused as it can be with Skyhook’s Personas marketing approach. Skyhook offers three location-based marketing predictors Retailer Personas, Power Personas, and On-Demand Personas each one focuses on different types of consumers.

Skyhook Personas graphic from their website
  • Retailer Personas are designed to measure a customer’s advertisement response to sale campaigns associated with the 200 top retailers and brands in North America.
  • Power Personas help identify consumers with strong brand affinity based on analysis through time and visit frequency of venue visits and other location based data.
  • On-Demand Personas are created from analysis of data from venue visits, venue type, visit frequency, and demographic information. For example, you could build a persona that pulls consumers over 60 years old that have visited Target in the past 90 days.

Personas help optimize conversion rates (conclusion of the sale), reduce wasted advertising spending to improve sales by pairing consumers’ offline behaviors to relevant ads and offers. For Example, a consumer perceives a Lexus ad then goes to a Lexus dealer. This consumer would have a luxury car interests that could be used in an ad campaign to more closely target an interest.

Tracking through Bluetooth

Even if WiFi is disabled, your phone’s Bluetooth signal can give away your location, expose the files on your phone, or even receive files and communications from other devices.