Tracking users location and the laws of value exchange

Fortune published a pragmatic piece on location based tracking and how users will or won’t accept this type of interaction retailer or brand.

Part of the problem with iBeacon and its brethren is the word “tracking.” No one would answer “yes” to the question, “Do you like having your every move tracked whenever you enter a store?” And yet, that’s what happens to us as we browse the web every day. Marketers, publishers, and e-commerce sites use cookies to follow us around the web and serve us ads based on our browsing histories. Cookies have always been a point of contention with privacy wonks, but Internet users are generally okay with it.

Which word the industry ends up using to describe “tracking” is completely irrelevant. What is most important and indicative of iBeacon’s (and its brethren) maturity is when marketers actually figure out the right level of value exchange by which a consumer is willing to participate in a location specific interaction.

Spam me with crap and I will uninstall you. Shower me with value and I will be yours forever*.

*Forever in the internet world is actually next week, or at least until the next time you screw up and de-value our digital relationship.

Will there be spammers? Yes. Will there be an uproar from consumers? Yes. Will consumers eventually get over it as marketers figure out how to best leverage the technology and find the appropriate value exchange? Yes.

This pattern reminds me of Facebook Connect’s early days when users rioted when they had to sign into apps like Spotify using their Facebook account due to privacy concerns. Fast forward a few years and now this behavior is the norm. People understood the value in signing in with Facebook – it saved them time and enriched their interactions with their Facebook friends.