Mobile Movement and Location Data

Forgetting I had opted into Google Maps Timeline feature, I received a notification on my phone telling me I could review my recent travel history. I opened the application and was astounded by the map laid out before me. Red dots connected with lines detailed everywhere I had gone for the month, for the year, down to the specific day, all visible with handy drop-down filters.

Such a tool is as entertaining as it is useful, but the implications for business as well as personal privacy go far beyond a trip down memory lane. By tracking your movement and location data, businesses and algorithms can learn more about you than perhaps you’d like, a feature that has broad implications for the future of mobile technology and big data.

But how is this data collected? How is it used? And what does the use of our movement data mean in terms of privacy rights?

We explore these questions to bring you a closer look at mobile movement and location data as they are used today.

Movement Data: What It Is and How It Is Collected

Movement data is a subset of big data, the vast amounts of information points collected everywhere that consumers interact with a digital service. The applications of this data have transformed a variety of industries, including:

  • Healthcare
  • Banking
  • Marketing
  • Business
  • And more…  

Wherever customers are offering details about their habits and preferences, some business or service is there to make use of that data to improve their processes and outreach potential.

Movement data can be especially valuable. Tracking the location of a customer can allow businesses to send out notifications, offer special deals, or otherwise craft advertising to bring customers in. It allows businesses to see how a consumer behaves, what their needs are, and how to best fit within their daily routine.

What powers this feature is the accumulation of mobile movement and location data, pinged off mobile towers and tracked with GPS satellite imagery. The collection of movement data requires you to allow permissions on your mobile device, but once you click that button, it can be easy to forget exactly what you’ve agreed to.

What follows, you may have noticed, are advertisements and notifications surrounding places you’ve been or are close to. These are some of the many uses of movement and location data that are driving modern advertising.

The Many Uses of Movement and Location Data

The location analytics industry is estimated to grow to a value of $26.7 billion by 2025. This value is directly tied to the usefulness of location and movement data for all kinds of businesses as they drive sales both off and on a digital marketplace.

The usage potential of movement data is virtually unlimited. In today’s marketplace, however, location data is primarily used in the following ways:

Business Intelligence

Little is as valuable to a business intelligence strategy as understanding the movement behaviors of customers throughout a location. With analytics involving well-traveled routes, frequented stops by demographic, and shopping behaviors by time and place, businesses can enhance their strategies to meet their customers halfway.

Imagine operating a chain of lemonade stands across a wide geographical area. With movement data, you could track customers likely to be out for a walk and send them an instant coupon or advertisement when the temperature hits over 90 degrees in their area.

These are the kinds of insights and techniques available through movement and location data today, making it a must for business intelligence.

Mobile Marketing

Because we tend to carry around our smartphones everywhere we go, adding location data to mobile marketing insights is proving to be highly effective. Mobile marketing offers simplicity, speed, and automation to advertising methods, allowing even small businesses to get into the game with lower marketing expenses.

Add location data to that equation, and you give companies the tools to reach their targeted audience. This can take the form of pay-per-click banners for customers in a specific region, notifications on sales for smartphones in your area, and much more. Companies like Whole Foods have used this location-based marketing technique to lure customers away from competitors with well-timed notifications. This allowed Whole Foods to raise their conversion rate by 4.69%.


Geofencing occurs when a business sets up a GPS or radio signal boundary that acts as another customer resource. This can be highly beneficial in smoothing the consumer experience while enhancing a business’s marketing potential.

By setting up a geofence, a company creates a checkpoint that can log customers in and out, send out push notifications, or offer other pre-programmed deals or experience enhancements that can make a difference, especially for smaller businesses. For businesses that use geofence notifications, click-through rates can be as much as four times higher.

The Future and Implications of Movement Data Use

With so many potential uses of location data, this information has proven to be a game-changer for modern business, leading to the increased accumulation and commodification of consumer movement data. But with more location-based ads and services on the way, privacy concerns abound as well.

In the modern world, it’s hard to keep anything private. Social media ensures that nothing is forgotten, but what does that mean for our privacy rights? Similarly, when businesses can tap into our location data seemingly at will, what will protect Americans from being besieged by ads accessing us at any time with information we’d rather keep private?

The implications of location data use are broad. For businesses, movement data means the ability to better target an audience for better conversion rates. For consumers, targeted and personalized marketing may actually help you save money and find new favorite spots. However, the question of privacy and data usage rights always remains on the backburner.

In the future, we may see new legislation reshape the way movement and location data can be used. Today, tracking this information through mobile devices is a tool for businesses to communicate with local audiences to great effect.

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Beau Peters

Beau Peters

Beau Peters is professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he has learned a slew of tricks in the business world and enjoys sharing them with others who carry the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.

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