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Flyers on United, American can now exchange location data for miles

United Airlines and American Airlines flyers can now earn miles by sharing their location data via a new application called Frequent Flyer. 

The app comes from location insights and intelligence firm Placed and measures device data, including apps and location, for the purpose of analytics and measuring. Flyers on Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines can also opt-in to location measurement in exchange for airline miles. 

?Placed believes that the market is moving towards transparency and opt-in and away from opaque data collection and opt-out,? said David Shim, founder and CEO of Placed. ?With opt-in Placed measures on average a 1,000 locations per user per day, while those that rely on bid request data see on average 5 good locations per user day.  

?Placed purchases miles across a variety of programs as a value exchange for consumers sharing their location data,? he said. ?With the miles provided to consumers it creates an opportunity to extend brand loyalty beyond flights.?

Marketing transparency
Frequent Flyer lets users earn points by going about their day, completing surveys, connecting their social networks and referring friends. 

After installation, the app measures location data in the background as the person moves throughout the physical world. Users also receive surveys based on the places they have visited. Each response accrues more airline miles. Users can earn up to 100 airline miles a month.

Location data from users is pooled with data collected from other panelists to provide insights to third parties. Only aggregate data is used for analytics and reporting. 

With some consumers skittish about how marketers may be tracking their activities on mobile, leading to an increase in the use of ad blockers, the Frequent Flyer app is one example of how greater transparency can be built into mobile marketing. 

The app also exemplifies the move toward treating data as a currency. 

Quality information
Placed also offers two similar apps tied to the sharing of location data. Give2Charity lets users earn points that can be redeemed for donations to selected charities. Panel App enables users to earn gift cards for stores. 

Placed reports that its apps have been downloaded nearly 10 million times to date, with its audience generating more than 2 billion first-party location data points on a daily basis. 

?As people start to invest in location, data quality and accuracy questions rise,? Mr. Shim said. ?With Frequent Flyer, Placed measures on average 80 location points per store visit, while the industry average is 1 location that is in proximity of the store, and could be misclassified as the consumer was just walking by the store.

?In the early days of cookies, many brands and publishers didn't ask the question where is this data coming from, which resulting in lawsuits and delayed innovation,? he said. ?Placed expects something similar with location, and working with data that hasn't been vetted for privacy in the present will have long term implications for advertisers and publishers.?