According to Adage, major cellphone carriers are selling customer data, including location, as well as "mobile web surfing, text messaging and phone calls" information to marketing companies. While Telcos are keeping a tight lip on this new form of revenue in fear of customers' reaction, the estimated $24 billion in revenue "outweigh the possible tangles with government regulators, consumer advocates and even squeamish board members."
The service also combines data from telcos with other information, telling businesses whether shoppers are checking out competitor prices on their phones or just emailing friends. It can tell them the age ranges and genders of people who visited a store location between 10 a.m. and noon, and link location and demographic data with shoppers' web browsing history. Retailers might use the information to arrange store displays to appeal to certain customer segments at different times of the day, or to help determine where to open new locations.
"It used to be that this data was a lot harder to come by," said Ross Shanken, CEO of LeadID, a lead generation analytics firm. In a previous position at data firm TargusInfo 2008 and 2010 he nonetheless partnered with "a very large telco" to validate names, addresses and phone numbers for data appending.
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