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My secret (predictable) mobile life: What does it mean for Boston businesses?

Posted by Devin Cole  August 2, 2012 11:00 AM

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If your mobile phone could talk, what would it say about you?

Looking at my app usage would show that I am a loyal user of several Boston-based mobile services – shout out to LevelUp (almost ready for my reward at Channel Café), Mocospace (so many friends, so little time), Snuggle Truck (my toddler likes it) and Bank of America’s mobile app (great interface provided by Phone Valley).

More interestingly, the location trail of my phone would show how hyper-local and predictable my life is. I used to think I was somewhat intriguing, but...

Sense Networks, a mobile location targeting company founded out of MIT (disclosure, I work here – but this is really cool stuff) is able to discover and articulate anonymous user behavior by analyzing opted-in location data.

So who is the person who owns my iPhone?
• Demographics: 35-45, F, white
• Education: Post graduate
• Home address: South End
• Work address: Innovation District
• Behavior segments: Foodie, Urbanite, Business Traveler, Outdoor/Fitness Enthusiast and Shopper at Target, Whole Foods and Starbucks

Hey, she sounds familiar!

This technology can also predict when and where my phone will be based on my habitual travel patterns – and they would be spot on!
• Morning and evening: Commuting between the South End and the Innovation District via South Station
• Random weekday nights: Dining in trendy restaurants
• Any night: Home by 9:00PM (toddler and beauty rest!)
• Weekends: Travel to the North Shore
• Weekly: Shopping at Target, Whole Foods and Starbucks
• Monthly: Business travel to NY or SF
• Wednesdays, 8AM: Ordering a large café au lait and sugar brioche at Flour after going to the gym (kidding, they can’t tell the size of my coffee)

Other Boston mobile companies, such as the PayPal Media Network and Jumptap also provide services to understand mobile user behavior and serve up advertisements that will be enticing enough to direct my feet (and wallet) into neighborhood merchants. And given that I, like most people, do not want any company “tracking” my mobile travels (or revealing my frequent trips to JP Licks), there are privacy practices in place that companies adhere to. My identity is still secret in the end!

What does this mean for local Boston businesses who would love to have me stop by during my habitual travels?
Yes, you can really find me: Mobile is an anonymous marketing channel, but technology today allows you to send highly targeted advertising messages. Given that 91% of mobile users keep their phone at arm’s length 24/7 (source: BIA/Kelsey), mobile is a good medium to begin to understand how to use.
Be relevant: Since you can target me specifically by my location and behavior, please say something contextual and meaningful. Hint: I like and act upon deals.
Talk to me in advance: You know my travel patterns, so give me some time to react to an ad. Tell me about a good sushi deal (or diaper sale) a few days before I may want to act. And give me an easy way to save the deal & be reminded about it. Because I probably won’t stop in my tracks when I am running for the bus.

Heather Sears is Vice President of Marketing at Sense Networks and is a Boston World Partnerships Connector.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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