Half of mobile users willing to share location with advertisers

Posted by Mark Raby

In the world of "try to wrap your head around this," there's a new survey out showing that around half of consumers are actually willing to share their location in order to get more relevant advertising.

Yes, despite what all the fear-mongering privacy advocates might have you believe, people are becoming more and more willing to share personal details about themselves to receive more relevant information.

That's just part of the results found in mobile research firm JiWire's quarterly Mobile Audience Insights Report. The report showed that 39% of users are interested in receiving local discounts while on the go. Over 50% want their mobile ads to be location-specific.

For example, if a mobile ad for Target pops up, users really want that ad to tell them where their nearest Target is. Around 40% of mobile customers said they would be more likely to interact with an ad if it was relevant to their current location.

"People today are demanding much more localized content as they spend more time on the go, creating a great opportunity for advertisers. 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," said JiWire senior VP David Staas.

There does, however, seem to be a very definite link between the user's age and his or her willingness to share location data. While only 43% of those aged 25 - 34 were against the idea of letting advertisers tap into their location data, that number was 76% for users over the age of 65.

The report also found that mobile Wi-Fi use is on the rise, with the iPhone consistently ranking as the most widely-used mobile Wi-Fi device. The iPad was the third most popular device. The Droid Incredible, intriguingly, was #2.

The use of Wi-Fi on mobile devices has been spurred by the increasing number of locations that offer free Wi-Fi access. Earlier this summer, Starbucks rolled out free Wi-Fi to every one of its corporate-owned stores, and a growing number of hotels and airports grant free Internet access to everyone.

JiWire said there were around 315,000 public Wi-Fi locations throughout the country, and for the first time in the US, more of those are free than ones that require users to pay for access.

Laptops, however, remain far and away the most popular device of any type to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot. I wonder how long it will be before mobile devices overtake that crown.