Users Want More Mobile Personalization and Location Is Key

Factual CEO Gil Elbaz preaches the Gospel of Location Data. Among other things Elbaz argues that location history and location are not just for ad targeting and analytics but can be used to deliver a better overall (mobile) user experience.

Elbaz joked during an on-stage interview at the Brandify Summit earlier this year that “creepy is the new awesome.” In a serious vein that statement implies the tension between tapping all available data to deliver better user experiences and not alienating consumers who are fundamentally ambivalent about being tracked or profiled.

Survey after consumer survey seems to reinforce the point that mobile users want more personalization and customized experiences from publishers and retailers, yet in most cases enterprises are unable to keep up with consumer demands — let alone effectively create trusted relationships and communication around how data are being utilized.

Localytics personalization

A new consumer survey from Localytics explores app-related attitudes and usage behavior. Among other things the study found that the majority of survey respondents wanted more personalization and more utility from their apps.

These respondents said they wanted apps to be able to “seamlessly connect with my online and real-world experiences.” Tied for second on the list was the desire that the app “present content that is personalized to my preferences/needs/location.” In both instances location data are critical for success.

The chart below reflects the “most requested forms of personalization.” First on the list is customization by preference (e.g., an airline app that always assigns an aisle seat or a hotel app that recognizes the desire to be far from the elevator). Number two is understanding context or the “last action” taken. People don’t want to have to communicate the same information again; they want to “pick up where they left off.”

Number three is the integration of location (also context) into the app experience or real-time messaging.

Localytics personalization

Most users don’t have any insight into how location data and their histories can be used to accomplish some of their personalization objectives. Surveys consistently reveal that user location is a sensitive piece of data. However consumers are willing to disclose or share location when they understand how it’s being used (e.g., by a mapping app for directions) or when there’s a value exchange (e.g., opt in to receive an offer).

Apps that fail to meet rising user expectations will be abandoned. Localytics found that smartphone owners on average will try an app 4.5 times before uninstalling. However a substantial minority (26%) will only try an app once or twice.

Publishers and developers need to get this right. To that end they need to fully leverage user location, and not just for ad delivery or retargeting but as part of a broader effort to deliver an improved and truly useful customer experience.

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