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Report finds light use of location-based services

By Cecilia Kang

Just 4 percent of U.S. Internet users partake in location-based services such as Foursquare and Godwalla, according to a survey released Thursday by the Pew Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

But use of location-based services is expected to grow, analysts say, as companies begin to offer ads and coupons that engage users longer and entice them to use such sites more frequently.

Younger men make up the biggest portion of users, according to Pew’s survey of more than 3,000 Internet users in August and September. The survey found that most users access location-based services using their mobile phones.

The study comes amid a growing concern by privacy advocates that GPS-enabled applications are gathering too much data about users and could be used to target advertising based on an individual's behavior. Most applications with location features such as Twitter only track a user’s geographic position with a user’s expressed consent.

Though Pew's study showed that location-based services are nascent, companies have high hopes for using information on a consumer’s location to serve up ads and coupons for nearby retailers.

Analysts say that the addition of more features on location-based applications will drive greater interest. Until recently, a Foursquare user checking in as “mayor” of Starbucks on K and 15th Street NW in Washington was novel but users soon lost interest, analysts said.

“Cashing out from checking in will largely come from advertising and promotions as the services have a unique ability to communicate with users while they are on the town with wallets and purses in tow,” SNL Kagan analyst John Fletcher wrote in a recent research note.

Fletcher projects that users of location-based services will increase to 33 million by the end of 2010 from 12 million last year. “For now, most social location networks are currently pursuing a land grab and focusing on growing users to attract advertisers," he wrote.

On Wednesday, Facebook launched mobile features that include enhancements to its location service, Facebook Places, enabling businesses to activate deals when users check into a specific geographic area.

The Post’s Rob Pegoraro explains how Facebook’s Deals feature will give away a free pair of Gap jeans to the first 10,000 people to check in at Gap stores.
(Disclosure: Washington Post Co. chairman, Donald E. Graham, is a member of Facebook's board.)

By Cecilia Kang  | November 4, 2010; 12:01 AM ET
Categories:  Privacy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Rep. Barton pledges push for Internet privacy oversight
Next: Internet privacy in next Congress

Comments

Dennis Crowley spoke yesterday at Adtech about how Foursquare expected to move to a GPS solution that buzzed you to ask if you wanted to check in if you visited a place you had checked i previously eg turning a 4 step process into a 2 step process (though requiring a back end application to be running continuously....how you going to do that on a iPhone?)


I do agree though, checking in for the sake of checking in seems to be wearing out it's welcome.

There needs to be something else in the backend to "quid pro quo" the desire to interact.
At http://www.livechatconcepts.com/ we "check in" users when they interact with one of our sites eg http://www.livefootballchat.com/ or http://www.livebasketballchat.com/ etc but at the end of the day checking in and posting a note out to your twitter and facebook accounts saying you just logged in secondary;The primary purpose is being on the site to chat live while watching the game.

Yes badge information is interesting but you need to provide more to keep your users coming back.

Cheers,
Dean

Posted by: DeanCollins1 | November 5, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Dennis Crowley spoke yesterday at Adtech about how Foursquare expected to move to a GPS solution that buzzed you to ask if you wanted to check in if you visited a place you had checked i previously eg turning a 4 step process into a 2 step process (though requiring a back end application to be running continuously....how you going to do that on a iPhone?)


I do agree though, checking in for the sake of checking in seems to be wearing out it's welcome.

There needs to be something else in the backend to "quid pro quo" the desire to interact.
At http://www.livechatconcepts.com/ we "check in" users when they interact with one of our sites eg http://www.livefootballchat.com/ or http://www.livebasketballchat.com/ etc but at the end of the day checking in and posting a note out to your twitter and facebook accounts saying you just logged in secondary;The primary purpose is being on the site to chat live while watching the game.

Yes badge information is interesting but you need to provide more to keep your users coming back.

Cheers,
Dean

Posted by: DeanCollins1 | November 5, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Dennis Crowley spoke yesterday at Adtech about how Foursquare expected to move to a GPS solution that buzzed you to ask if you wanted to check in if you visited a place you had checked i previously eg turning a 4 step process into a 2 step process (though requiring a back end application to be running continuously....how you going to do that on a iPhone?)


I do agree though, checking in for the sake of checking in seems to be wearing out it's welcome.

There needs to be something else in the backend to "quid pro quo" the desire to interact.
At http://www.livechatconcepts.com/ we "check in" users when they interact with one of our sites eg http://www.livefootballchat.com/ or http://www.livebasketballchat.com/ etc but at the end of the day checking in and posting a note out to your twitter and facebook accounts saying you just logged in secondary;The primary purpose is being on the site to chat live while watching the game.

Yes badge information is interesting but you need to provide more to keep your users coming back.

Cheers,
Dean

Posted by: DeanCollins1 | November 5, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

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