- Gimbal, a provider of location data for mobile ad targeting, released an app to give consumers more control over their geographic data. LocationChoices helps consumers opt out of sharing their location data with third parties, preventing its use for advertising and analytics, per an announcement.
- The app is part of the company's broader effort to develop a system of best practices for gathering and sharing location data about mobile consumers, as seen with its LocationChoices.org website.
- Gimbal also seeks to inform and educate consumers about the data they produce while using mobile devices before deciding whether to opt out. The LocationChoices app is available for iOS and Android mobile devices.
Gimbal's LocationChoices app is part of its effort to promote industry self-regulation amid the heightened publicity about location tracking that may lead to a broader crackdown on the controversial practice. Location-based marketing, which Martin Sorrell, former CEO of ad-holding giant WPP, once described as the "holy grail" for advertising, can be a powerful way to reach consumers when they're most ready to shop, dine out or visit an entertainment venue. However, it's important for mobile marketers to avoid abuses that alienate customers or violate data-privacy rules.
Location data helps to boost the effectiveness of ad campaigns, according to a report last year by location data provider Factual, competitor to Gimbal. Spending on location analytics will grow to $15 billion by 2023 from $8.35 billion in 2017, according to a report from mobile data company Placer.ai cited by Bloomberg. To protect that growth, the location data services industry may need to support self-regulation efforts that allow it to thrive while giving consumers greater peace of mind about privacy protections.
Gimbal's LocationChoices app comes as U.S. states and cities work on a patchwork of regulations to address consumer concerns about data sharing in the absence of a federal privacy law. California is setting the national agenda for consumer privacy with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that took effect this month, although the state's attorney general offered a six-month grace period on enforcement. On a more local level, New York City is weighing whether to ban the controversial practice of selling mobile users' location data, eliminating a revenue source for telecommunications companies and apps that collect the troves of information.