Would You Sacrifice Your Privacy For A $5 Gift Card?

Placed tracks consumer location data for marketersYour location is very, very valuable to marketers.  Are you willing to offer them that information, around the clock, in exchange for $5 and $10 gift cards — as well as the occasional bigger prize?

So far, at least 125,000 Americans have answered yes to the above question. Location analytics startup Placed convinced those people to download a mobile app that tracks them wherever they go, 24/7, in exchange for accumulating $5 and $10 gift cards over time, as well as being eligible for drawings of bigger ticket items, like an Apple iPad.

Tracking consumers around the clock obviously yields a ton of valuable data for businesses and advertisers. Here are some of the trends revealed by Placed data (reported by Bloomberg Businessweek):

  • Asian American mothers shop at Trader Joe’s more often, while white moms visit big grocery chains
  • McDonald’s is the most visited restaurant in the country; nearly half of Americans ages 13+ visit on an average month (really?)
  • Starbucks attracts nearly 1/3 of Americans each month
  • 25 to 34 year-olds are most likely to eat Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos at Taco Bell

With so many Americans up in arms about government tracking and surveillance, are consumers too creeped out by this technology?  Placed can even access the compass and accelerometer on users’ phones, and has software to help pinpoint your location even when the data isn’t clear (ex: if you’re in a basement).

However, personal identification information is removed before Placed shares its data with companies. Placed founder David Shim told Bloomberg, “There isn’t this creepiness factor. These people have opted in to being measured.”  And you may already have apps on your phone that are tracking your data (Foursquare, etc).

And don’t forget, there are other ways of tracking consumer locations – for instance, the Apple iBeacon technology used in Major League Baseball’s ‘At The Ballpark’ app at Citi Field, and in Apple’s retail stores, transmitting precise location data so advertisers can reach consumers the moment they enter a store. Consumers opt in to this tracking via mobile app, and can turn off the ability to share location data.

One more thing to consider: the Placed mobile app can drain anywhere from 5-15% of your phone’s battery life each day. Ouch.

What do you think — how valuable would this type of data be for your brand? Are you willing to be tracked around the clock?  And if not, what amount of gift cards/prizes/etc might change your mind?