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mobile carriers, mobile offers, dailydealmedia.comAs mobile and social continue to insinuate themselves into our lives, AT&T and Verizon have come up with a new use for all that information they are collecting on their mobile customers.

At&T is offering its users an SMS service called AT&T Alerts that serves up location based offers that are good for a limited time. The opt-in service will include promotions from popular retailers such as Staples, the Gap, Motorola, Duracell and more. AT&T is obviously hoping to cash in on the same mobile marketing plan used by Groupon Now!, Roximity and even Google.

Verizon’s new mobile marketing program, called Verizon Selects, uses customer location and combines that with other data to offer up what it hopes are relevant ads.

Simply put, Verizon Selects will use location, web browsing and mobile application usage data, as well as other information including customer demographic and interest data, to create specific insights. Verizon Selects analyzes this information about customers to see whether they fit into certain audiences Verizon or third party marketers are trying to reach. Depending on the results, participating customers will receive marketing messages or offers that may be of more interest to them than what they see or receive today. These messages could be delivered in various ways such as email, text, postal mail or online or mobile advertising.

While mobile carriers and retailers obviously see this growing method of reaching out and touching consumers as a good thing, consumers continue to have serious concerns about their lack of privacy and use of their personal information. Users are finding that as convenient as mobile devices may be, they are also being used as a tracking device to follow their every move.

One reader on Engadget commented:

This is awesome.  I’m dying for Verizon to know even more about me.  When can they just implant a chip in my brain to alert me to deals?  better yet, with NFC they could just program my body to automatically walk into store, pull out my cellphone and be on my way.

And from Gigaom:

Agreed, consumers are quite willing to give up info freely when offered a cookie in exchange but only when offered. In the world of Facebook and the millions and millions of users who post everything and anything about their personal lives and their friends/families lives with or without consent this really should not come as a shocker….

I bet if the wireless carriers offered a huge discount on their services in exchange for this level of info the response would be overwhelmingly positive, I for one will continue to say no, opt out and pay for my service. My privacy is worth more than a cheap coupon.

Last year mobile software company, Carrier IQ found itself in hot water when it was discovered that the company had its software installed on over 140 million mobile devices without users’ knowledge. The software had the ability to log user keystrokes, store text messages, record telephone calls and track location. The software was said to be difficult or almost impossible to disable.

While Carrier IQ attempted to deny that it was surreptitiously collecting mobile user data, specifically, keystrokes, Engadget reporter, Zachary Lutz pointed to a patent application from Carrier IQ:

2. A method for collecting data at a server coupled to a communications network, comprising: transmitting to a device a data collection profile, wherein the data collection profile comprises a plurality of parameters defining a set of data to be collected by the device, a first condition under which the set of data is to be collected, and a second condition under which the set of data is to be transmitted; and receiving from the device the set of data collected in response to the second condition.

10. The method of claim 2, wherein the set of data relates to an end user’s interaction with the device.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein the interaction with the device comprises the end user’s pressing of keys on the device.

Following the Carrier IQ controversy, mobile research and advisory firm, Yankee Group published a survey that found that most mobile users would not object to having their carrier collect their information if the company was open about it and if they received some value in exchange.

So what’s your take on this? Are you going to opt in for AT&T, Verizon or any other mobile carrier’s offers? Are you willing to sacrifice privacy and personal information in exchange for a few dollars off at the Gap or other local retailer?

Engadget, Gigaom

Krissa Ashton

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