Smartphones can sometimes reveal more information about their owners than their family and friends. They store information about people’s personalities, preferences and habits, so it’s not surprising that mobile phone operators are looking for ways to make money off of this data.
According to a CNN report, most data shared by mobile phone firms with third parties today is generic, and all US national carriers group their clients’ personal information together and utilise that accumulated data to help advertisers.
However, the data only account for a small portion of what they know and could share with advertisers, as smartphones can monitor what apps you use, what you like to shop for, where you’ve been and where you are now. Wireless carriers, on the other hand, know your gender and age. With all of this information pooled together, phone operators will be able to acquire very relevant information that can be sold to advertisers and brands on the lookout for potential clients.
“An interesting transformation is happening in wireless, in which consumers are no longer customers — they’re the product. The trick is for operators to find out how to make money without violating their relationships and trust with their users,” said Dan Hays, Principal for Communications and Technology Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Already, Verizon has started monitoring broad categories of customers who pass by certain stores and jots down their data (gender, race and age). The company then sells the information to retailers so that the vendors can specifically target people that will likely buy their items or set up shop in a location frequented by those people.