Intro to Mobile Privacy & Measurement
Two other issues that must be addressed when using the mobile device to communicate with stakeholders are privacy and measurement. The concept of mobile as permission-based communication has been introduced previously, but the debate around consumer privacy is still very much on the radar. In Canada, the Canadian Wireless and Telecommunications Association (CWTA), governs all business to consumer mobile messaging programs. They have mandated that any messaging program have consumer opt-out functionality built in. The buying and selling of lists of mobile phone numbers collected as part of a business-to-consumer campaign is also prohibited. There are no mobile-specific standards around data use and collection via the mobile web or mobile applications, though most campaigns appear to follow standard online privacy and data collection guidelines (note: if anyone has more info on mobile marketing privacy guidelines, I’d love to know more).
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has released a report offering guidelines for behavioural advertising. Though many privacy advocates call the guidelines ‘meaningless’, it is still a step in the right direction and MobileMarketer.com, in their analysis of the report said, “In the FTC’s report the consumer watchdog said that companies should provide reasonable data security measures so that behavioral data does not fall into the wrong hands, and should retain data only as long as necessary for legitimate business or law enforcement needs. ‘The key theme underlying this guidance is the need to balance the potential benefits of the various practices covered by the principles against the privacy concerns the practices raise,’ the FTC document says.” Mobile privacy will continue to be a contentious issue but there are enough safe-guards in place to protect both the consumer and communicator, provided existing regulations and common sense are applied.
Though mobile is one of the most highly measureable communication channels available to the professional communicator, unified standards around measurement are still in a nascent stage. Text messaging programs that use keywords and shortcodes offer the most consistent measurement platform. Shortcodes are 5 or 6 digit numeric codes that work just like phone numbers but are more accurately thought of as the URL of mobile messaging (Ex. Text WIN to 12345 where WIN is the keyword and 1235 is the shortcode.). Among the measurement points are total number of users, total number of interactions, location and time of interaction and content of the interaction.The mobile web and applications offer many of the same measurement points as online communications such as page views and visits, time on site, handset type and location though not at the same level of granularity.
Market research firm Nielsen has been working to advance mobile measurement by introducing a mobile segmentation targeting solution that organizes targeting data into easily interpreted and manipulated groups, or “segments,” to help advertisers better target their key demographics. Solutions such as Nielsen’s allow communicators to serve up content relevant to a particular user based on information contained within the handset, such as geo-location, or from information provided by the user. Hill & Knowlton’s David Jones says, “Because mobiles are registered to real people, there are some good tracking options. Specifically, the typical mobile measures such as interactions, area code, time, and so on, but also looking at more traditional web-tracking options. It would be great to get access to more detailed user demo info, but can that be done without being too invasive?” As with any communications program, setting the right objectives is essential. By understanding the strengths and limitations of the mobile experience and by properly addressing user privacy concerns, objectives can be set that map onto the available measurement metrics.
Up Next: An introduction to mobile tactics for public relations
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