Location-Based Cell Phone Ads Launching Soon

PC World has an overview of Loopt, which will begin testing location-based advertising via CBS Mobile in the near future. What’s notable about the service—aside from the fun concept of triangulating location via cell towers—is that Loopt and CBS Mobile “seem to have made most of the right choices for privacy.” That includes the service being opt-in instead of opt-out, and no personal data (such as account info or phone number) being sent back upstream. The targeted ads replace existing ads as well, so there’s not a location-based spammy increase in advertising with the service. This is the kind of advertising we “like”—localized, relevant, and anonymous on our side of things.

By comparison, the PC World columnist points out a recent AT&T letter he received that announces how AT&T will be using his account data for marketing purposes unless he jumps through some opt-out hoops online or by mail. “An opt-out (versus opt-in) policy is a lousy way to gain approval for using private data,” he writes, “and frankly it ticks me off.” Hooray for Loopt for recognizing privacy on some level.

“First Location-Based Cell Phone Ads Get Privacy Thumbs-Up” [PC World]



Edit Your Comment

  1. leprofie says:


  2. homerjay says:

    Why don’t they just get it over with and scan ads right into my retina?

  3. tande says:

    The problem is that the companies that would actually be helped out by this and the ads that I’d actually be interested in seeing aren’t the ones that are going to do it.

    It would be great to be in an area and hear about some new little restaurant or store in the area that I’d never of found otherwise but more likely then not its going to be Starbucks, CVS, and the like which I already know are on every corner anyways.

  4. Verdigris says:

    Better then tempting me with Sonic ads, WHEN THERE IS NO SONIC WITHIN 100 MILES OF ME!!!

    Stop tempting me with your delicious drinks and food!

  5. rg says:

    I think it’s a great idea! Let the ads pay for my phone bill! Give me a free call to whatever the ad is for. Give me a free month of service for every ad that I acknowledge and use!
    But we know none of that is going to happen.

  6. SadSam says:


    Sonic did that to me for a year+ before finally opening in my county. They advertised for a year when the only Sonic was 800+ miles away. It drove me crazy and it drove my husband crazy b/c every time a Sonic ad came on the teevee I had to mention what a waster of advertising money it was. Kohl’s did the same thing, advertised in my market for many months before actually opening a store.

    I would guess that if Sonic is advertising in your area you will soon have a Sonic.

  7. Chris Walters says:

    @SadSam: Sometimes I see Sonic ads on cable here in Brooklyn and I cry. There will never be a Sonic here.

  8. @Chris Walters: Sonic is just making sure remember when you’re within a few dozen miles of one, taking after good ol’ Wall Drug.

    Unlike Sonic, though, nobody gets a midnight craving for a picture with a giant jackalope.

  9. Charles Duffy says:

    @rg: A whole month means that’s a pretty expensive ad — prices them out of a lot of areas, some of which are things that might be useful (hey, if I’m trying to decide what to do for lunch, I want to see ads for restaurants near me… but no restaurant can afford to pay several times more for a single visit than what that’s worth; I’d need to be a recurring customer for quite a long time to make back a month’s cell phone bill).

    …now, a day’s phone bill for each ad impression resulting in a sale? That sounds reasonable. Likewise for toll-free calling to the companies offering the advertising. I hope those will come to pass.

  10. weakdome says:

    Geico has advertised for car insurance in Massachusetts for years – and up until recently (I think, if the new thing finally passed), they didn’t even offer insurance to MA residents. Fun.

  11. bonzombiekitty says:

    From the article:

    What’s notable about the service—aside from the fun concept of triangulating location via cell towers

    If it’s AT&T or T-Mobile, it’s not triangulation, it’s UTDOA. I work for the company that does most of AT&T’s cell phone location generation.

  12. rmz says:

    @Verdigris: I just went there last night. Mmm. Limeade.

  13. Mr. Gunn says:

    Boy, lotsa Sonic fanboys in here today.

    I think they need to get mobile data speeds up to a good level before they start trying to cram ads down with the data. Popups in Google maps are OK, as long as they don’t interfere with the info I’m looking for, namely the actual business I’m looking for and their details and the route.

    If I start getting routed by places that pay for such service, I’m gonna be pissed.

  14. radio1 says:

    @Mr. Gunn: My thoughts exactly. Who’s paying for this bandwidth? Do we get any benefits out of this ad-crap?