Rise of anti-social, secretly social apps presents hurdle for marketers

Mobile geolocation data has proven transformative for mobile marketers who view check-ins and in-store promotions as a boon to business. But a new mobile app could signal a sea change for mobile data collection.

Cloak, a recently debuted app that touts itself as an "anti-social networking" tool, allows users to view where contacts are located while going undetected. The app scrapes users' Instagram and Foursquare contact data to plot where connections are located without pinging those services with the users' location. Developers say Facebook compatibility is coming soon.

It's startling news for mobile marketers who are just starting to wrap their arms around the effective use of location data from such networks.

"The interest in Cloak is clearly not an isolated anomaly," writes Jim McCall, managing director of U.K.-based marketing agency The Unit, in a Marketing Magazine blog post.

"Over the next few years, a number of additional apps will challenge Facebook and Twitter by providing experiences that are both enriched yet not so open," he says.

McCall believes the app's popularity demonstrates several key trends for mobile marketers.

For one, it highlights that many people are part of social networks that are overly broad--connecting them with people who are not true "friends" to the point that others want to avoid them. People will increasingly move toward networks that enable a personalized conversation in a walled garden, says McCall. This means marketers will have to devise new means for gaining trust and access.

Even if they stay on these networks, consumers may become more guarded in their interactions. Consumers are turning against the always-on and always-connected environment, writes McCall.

"It is a given that some people love McDonald's or Starbucks, but at the same time, there are people that may want to select a route that doesn't involve passing one," says McCall.

Marketers will have to adjust to an environment where consumers have greater control over the amount of information that they share online, he adds.

For more:
- read the blog post on Marketing Magazine 

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