Solving the Concern of Privacy and Security

The importance of prioritizing the end consumer in the proximity industry

August 17, 2015

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Mobile and location have become the top priority for marketers around the globe, but many of them share the same concern, Privacy, as presented in xAd’s 2015 Global Location Snapshot. This is a justified worry, because as Oracle puts it, there is a privacy conflict in the proximity industry. 56 percent of consumers recognize that giving retailers access to personal information can improve their shopping experience, but at the same time 55 percent of consumers have reservations towards or disagree with retailers having access to their personal information. Indicating that customers want to be ensured, when they share their data, it is secure and treated according to rules and regulations.

Winning the trust of consumers

In order to win the trust of consumers, proximity campaigns need to demonstrate clear customer benefits and with complete transparency. Retail giant Target rolled out beacons in 50 of their stores in co-operation with Estimote, to be able to send information about deals as well as recommendations directly to consumers’ smartphones. How Target approached the importance of privacy coupled with customer benefits is a shining beacon (excuse the pun) for the entire industry.

“Guest privacy is definitely at the forefront as we design this and other experiences,” and “that has influenced how we will use and treat data and why we are trying to be as clear and transparent as possible.” said Eddie Baeb, a Target spokesman.

Use cases like this are a big step forward, by reducing suspicion and building trust in the proximity market, but there is still something missing.

What is the proximity industry missing?

The proximity industry lacks a standard for privacy and security. While Target sets an example in how proximity campaigns should be properly approached, there is no assurance that one will be treated with the same amount of privacy and security in the arms of another retailer.

When it comes to proximity campaigns, usually the customer needs to opt-in by themselves (in fact, that is one of the inherent strengths in proximity marketing), but from that point they have little control in how their personal data is used. Therefore, we argue that in order to lift the blanket of suspicion from the proximity industry, the consumer needs to have complete control over the personal data generated in the physical space. This will lead to trust, but more importantly to industry growth.

Privacy and security cannot wait

It is crucial to take privacy and security seriously from the very beginning. The proximity industry has shown exponential growth in the number of proximity solution providers, and there are already 164 PSPs in Proxbook alone. The number of proximity projects is increasing by the day, but the market is still young. Meaning, that if we want to further accelerate the growth of the industry, privacy and security is not something that can wait until the market is mature.

“If businesses won’t start to build sensible privacy policies and take the lead on this, believe government will, and lawmakers tend to use blunt force when they get involved”, said Tim Walters, who studies privacy issues for Digital Clarity Group.

Creating an industry standard

Building such a tool, that would standardize privacy and security for the entire proximity industry, has its challenges. First of all data transactions need to be handled with the highest level of security. Secondly, because the market is still young and therefore fragmented, it is difficult to develop a cross industry standard.

Single companies could create their own privacy tools, but having many different solutions available, would simply defeat the purpose of user friendliness.

Most importantly, as there are different regulations across the world, it needs to be clear that everything is according to requirements in different countries. In other words, there is a need for a user friendly, cross-industry privacy tool that ensures transparency and security.

As ABI Research’s report revealed, BLE Beacon shipments will comfortably exceed 400 million units in 2020. Can you imagine this happening without a strict privacy and security standard? In Unacast we can’t, and are therefore working towards solving the privacy and security concern, so not only the customers, but the entire proximity industry could feel safe. Safety and transparency will lead to trust, and trust leads to growth.

It is up to all of us to keep proximity as a top priority for marketers around the globe, and we do that, as an industry, by putting the end user at the top of our own priority list.