Even pre-Snowden we knew that the government was collecting and storing our cell phone geolocation data. And data mining grocery store discount cards. And using license plate readers on traffic cameras to track our movements.
Whether or not the full contents of our emails are being scooped up, at a minimum our email metadata is. The notion of privacy, at least from our government, is dead. And governments can do more with that information than corporations can.
How would you feel about giving that information to corporations, too, for marketing purposes?
What if they threw you a few miles to do it?
Travel brands used to give out points just for liking them on Facebook. They thought they could buy a lifetime of marketing to you that way, but of course it’s tough to make money on someone else’s platform and it’s tough for companies to advertise organically on Facebook.
Six years ago a site called TopGuest started offering loyalty points for social media check-ins.
They let you earn points with Hilton, Best Western, Choice Hotels, Priority Club plus Virgin America, Wyndham, plus Kimpton, Voila Rewards, and others. Even United was added.
You would link a TopGuest account to a social media profile such as Foursquare, and then check in on Foursquare when at a qualifying venue to earn points.
The technology wasn’t perfect, and back when I had a Blackberry I could check in on Foursquare at a Doubletree (Hilton points), Holiday Inn (Priority Club), Best Western, and more all from my home. It became a daily ritual of quick points.
Others got in the game. Tripanomaly offered Delta points for sharing your location at airports and Delta partner locations. Marriott Plus Points rewards social shares.
Letting a Company Track You Constantly is Worth Miles
There’s now an app that takes all of this a step further. The Frequent Flyer app for Android and iOS from Placed will track your location throughout the day and feed surveys based on location data.
After a user installs Frequent Flyer, the app measures location data in the background as the person moves throughout the physical world. On occasion consumers will receive surveys based on the places they’ve visited, and with each response accruing more airline miles.
On a daily basis, Placed’s audience generates over 2 billion first party location data points, representing one of the largest proprietary location databases in the world.
So how much are your location data and survey responses worth? They’ll reportedly let you earn up to 100 American, United, Alaska, or Hawaiian miles per month.
In addition to survey response earnings, you can generate miles by referring friends and receive 10% of their earnings.
Would You Do It?
Ultimately I don’t mind being tracked, roughly speaking being tracked to market to me is about the most innocuous use of the data that I can imagine.
But I value my data far more than 100 miles a month, and certainly won’t keep my phone’s location services turned on all the time draining battery for that level reward.