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Location Paradox: Mobile Users Recognize Its Value, But Many Won’t Share It
Forty percent don't like to share location, and 20 percent turn it completely off.
Call it the “location paradox.” Smartphone owners typically recognize that location improves mobile app experiences, but substantial numbers have concerns that keep them from authorizing location or turning on location services.
This was a central finding from a July 2015 survey of 1,000 US smartphone app users from Skyhook Wireless. The survey data reflect that 83 percent of app users understand location can be or is “vital” to selected app experiences. However, “more than half of weather and navigation app users haven’t even turned their location services on.”
This is especially interesting — and somewhat confusing — in the case of navigation apps, where location is their raison d’être.
Overall, the survey found 40 percent of app users hesitate or don’t share location with apps. It also said that 20 percent turned off location for all their apps. Skyhook investigated the reasons behind these consumer decisions.
Why People Don’t Share Location
- 50 percent (of the 40 percent who don’t share location) cited privacy as the top reason.
- 23 percent said they didn’t see the value of location data.
- 19 percent said location services drained their batteries (This is probably navigation apps).
Why People Turn Off Location
- 63 percent say battery draining caused them to turn off location.
- 45 percent said privacy.
- 20 percent “switch location services off in an effort to avoid advertising.”
People will share location when there’s a clear value exchange, although this study calls that into question to a degree (regarding navigation apps). When they do share location, consumers have fairly high expectations.
What Users Want From Location Sharing
- 49 percent expect accurate location.
- 47 percent want location-specific app content.
- 46 percent want “relevant” offers and coupons.
- 34 percent want personalized communications.
On the plus side for developers, only three percent of survey respondents said they would delete an app because of incorrect location data.
A great deal is at stake here for many app developers and publishers. Not only does location help to deliver personalization and a better overall user experience, location history is enormously valuable to advertisers. It’s a key to audience segmentation and operates as a kind of cookie alternative in mobile.
Best Practices For Getting Users To Turn On Location
Skyhook points out that once someone has turned off location for an app, it’s extremely difficult to get that person to “come back.” The company offers a few recommendations about when to ask for location and how to re-engage users.
Skyhook recommends asking for location at a relevant time: “IIf users have disabled location, Skyhook suggests communicating through non-app channels, such as email, to demonstrate the value of location (or what they’re missing).
This study and others make clear that app developers and publishers need to be highly respectful of users and win their trust. They also must deliver clear value in exchange for location. As with the parallel issue of ad blocking, the days of simply taking users and their participation for granted are over.