Geolocation Data In The Age Of Privacy

We spoke to Puja Panuum, the Managing Director of Blis, about how companies can leverage geolocation data while maintaining people’s privacy. She said that in today’s age companies only work with others who are privacy conscious and take the matter seriously.

Today, businesses use data very differently which is why it is considered the “new oil” that fuels in the economy. We try to understand more from Panuum, the significance of geolocation data while maintaining privacy.

How much do countries in the MENA region depend on geolocation data?

It’s only recently that MENA brands have realized the importance of using geolocation data. In fact, Blis has been operating in the MENA region for just a few years. Before then, it was uncommon to see businesses making use of location data.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that for geolocation to truly work for your business it must be accurate. And finding accurate data requires an incredibly rigorous filtration process. As geolocation data is relatively new to the MENA region, then, it’s common to find inaccurate data here.

So as businesses become more dependent on location data, those in the MENA region must ensure they are working with companies who invest in their tech and invest in their practices. This level of investment will allow them to provide better data, and a very accurate picture of audience. Without this, businesses simply won’t know who their audience really are, which will affect marketing strategy and ultimately ROI. For this reason, many brands now partner with location data providers – this is how important it has become.

Can you describe how can we benefit from this technology?

Often geolocation data has simply been used to target consumers based on the area they are situated in. Indeed, this kind of targeting is hugely beneficial for marketers. But when businesses start using geolocation data to identify audiences, using different data sets for what they do online and offline, it’s possible to reach a much deeper understanding of who their customer truly is.

This means you can start offering special offers to different types of travelers – for example, a business traveler vs a family on holiday. Understanding the location and online data of a business traveler allows you to provide a more personable creative, such as business lunch offers or hotel offers. Whereas, for a family on holiday, you would be able to offer advertising for theme parks or child-friendly hotels. What geolocation enables us to do, then, is to build a very accurate picture of audiences, both online and offline.

At least, that’s how businesses can benefit. But what about the consumer? Well, day to day, how many apps do you as a consumer use that rely on geolocation? Uber is one that most of us can relate to. With Uber, you as the consumer are using geolocation data to ensure that your driver picks you up from the right house and drops you to the right destination. Without geolocation data, apps like Uber – which are used daily – simply cannot function. So it’s become very important to consumers’ lives.

Does this kind of technology put people’s privacy at risk?

The success of GDPR means that consumer privacy is at the forefront. In fact, companies that were not prepared for GDPR at the start have now exited the market. This reduction has led to a much stronger market than before, one that is able to protect consumers and adapt to new regulatory changes.

Did GDPR affect Blis’ business in the MENA region?

Fundamentally, when you are GDPR compliant it means you are working with a body that protects consumer rights and ensures that advertisers are targeting audiences within the boundaries of the law. In the MENA region, this has particularly affected companies in the tourist hubs of UAE, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, where they are more likely to target Europeans. Such companies, when running global campaigns, will therefore need to ensure that they are GDPR compliant. If they are not, then it is illegal for them to target Europeans.

The upshot of this is actually a major benefit for brands working in these areas. By being GDPR compliant, it shows these companies are willing to be respectful of laws around the world.

What strategy should businesses in this region use to analyze data?

Until recently, most audience targeting was based on data collected from the online behavior of consumers, along with some basic personal information. This kind of analysis is limited, however. And it needn’t be! The best strategy is to ensure you are using a variety of data sets. Businesses today are armed with a lot of data, so try to use all of it – whether it’s offline, online or sales data. Before all this can be put to good use, however, businesses must ask: Who am I working with to ensure my data is accurate? Are they accredited by data bodies around the world? Do I have a team of data specialists to filter out the bad data?

But perhaps most important of all is what businesses use for the actual analysis of their data. Ultimately, to give data proper meaning you need a data specialist to analyze it. This is especially the case with geolocation data, because it is telling you about what people do in the real world. And only people can truly make sense of the real world.

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