“Tech companies large and small have long been trying to use smartphones to connect consumers’ online activity to what they do in ‘real’ life,” John McDermott reports for Digiday. “Google is now telling advertisers it has a way to do just that – and it involves tracking consumers’ smartphone locations all the time, wherever they go, even when they’re not using a Google app.”
“Google is beta-testing a program that uses smartphone location data to determine when consumers visit stores, according to agency executives briefed on the program by Google employees,” McDermott reports. “Google then connects these store visits to Google searches conducted on smartphones in an attempt to prove that its mobile ads do, in fact, work.”
“Google’s ability to make this connection is predicated on users opting in to location services on their smartphones and thus, in some cases, being subject to constant location monitoring. Dan Auerbach, staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that users might not realize they’ve opted in to constant location tracking when they opt in to ‘location services,'” McDermott reports, “It is easiest for Google to conduct this passive location tracking on Android users, since Google has embedded location tracking into the software. Once Android users opt in to location services, Google starts collecting their location data as continuously as technologically possible. (Its ability to do so is dependent on cell tower or Wi-Fi signal strength.)”
McDermott reports, “But Google can also constantly track the location of iPhone users by way of Google apps for iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system… Google’s namesake iOS app — commonly referred to as Google mobile search — continues collecting a user’s location information when it runs in the background. This information is then used to determine if that user visited a store and whether that store visit can be attributed to a search conducted in the app. Store visits can also be tracked via Google’s other iOS apps that use location services. If iOS users open their Chrome, Gmail or Google Maps app in a store, their location can be deemed a store visit. Location sharing is opt-in for all these apps.”
Read more in the full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” and “Murray” for the heads up.]