Celent Says

Location Awareness: A Blessing or a Curse?

Catherine Stagg-Macey
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 27, 2011

A recent conversation with a concerned aunt reminded me how location-aware and enabled our world has become. My aunt was worried that her teenage children were being a little too forthcoming about family movements on the social network sites. She knew her daughter had posted about an impending family holiday. She’s right to be worried.

Legal & General’s latest digital criminal report highlights once more the dangerous of the proliferation of location-aware services like Gowalla, Foursquare and Facebook places. The report notes that the younger you are, the more likely you are to give information away concerning your whereabouts, with nearly six out of ten 16 to 24 year olds sharing their holiday plans, which could be a cause for concern for parents, and certainly my aunt.

For those with malevolent intentions, the process is surprisingly simple. Few people are aware that anyone can purchase private address information, which is based on the electoral role. Armed with this data, notifications of when people are away, photos of housewarming parties showing contents of house, and pictures of animals indicating the likelihood of cat flaps or open windows, the burglar has a pretty easy job. This poses an increasing claims threat for insurers and an opportunity in educating consumers.

Another side of location-aware technology is more benign. Advertisers can target consumers by location using services such as Ji-Wire, which launched in the UK last month. Its deal with BT Openzone means it is has access to users of Wi-Fi networks in more than 4,000 "hotspots"—and can target them with localized ads when they log on.

One of the first advertisers is insurance firm Hiscox, which signed up this month and will integrate its digital media campaign with local poster activity. Using location-aware services can open a whole new world of advertising for insurers in a digital media world. (See Celent’s digital media report.)

Whether on the defensive or the offensive, the time has arrived to understand the opportunities and threats of location-aware services in new media.

This blog has been reprinted with permission from Celent.

Catherine Stagg-Macey is a senior analyst in Celent's insurance practice, and can be reached at cstagg-macey@celent.com.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Catherine using the “Add Your Comments” box below.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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