The Mazda Motor Corporation has taken a dive in to advanced analytics, and it is somewhat frightening. According to an article in Ad Age, Mazda tracks and monitors mobile location data through a company called PlaceIQ.1 While the practices and methods of PlaceIQ are commonplace, within the location based mobile advertising industry, they are somewhat troubling.


PlaceIQ describes itself:

PlaceIQ is a leading provider of location intelligence, enabling advertisers to reach and define mobile brand audiences at scale for a wide range of marketing activities. Working with agencies, brands, and channel partners, PlaceIQ deploys proprietary, patent-pending big data science to aggregate and analyze extensive amounts of location data from multiple sources. The resulting intelligence gives marketers an unprecedented understanding of consumer behavior, while offering a privacy-friendly way to define, locate, reach and measure mobile audiences. 2

This could very well be taken from any mobile advertising company, as it is all fairly standard. Before sounding any alarms, it should be noted that, according to the Ad Age article noted above, “When clients get reports on people who visited certain retail locations, they receive top-line categorical data but no personally-identifiable information such as someone’s physical address.”3 The practice is well within the law, and is not considered any sort of invasion of privacy as the data is taken from apps whose terms and conditions outline the practice.

By closely monitoring mobile data, PlaceIQ can serve up more relevant, more targeted mobile ads. In gathering data, the company is able, quite easily, to segment massive amounts of individuals into various groups; groups like: ‘Electronic Shopper,’ ‘White-Collar Worker,’ ‘Business Travelers,’ or ‘Casual Diner’.4 These segments are then served relevant ads.

Again, everything PlaceIQ is doing is 100% legal. Everything the NSA is doing is 100% legal. It is a bit ironic that we, as a country, get all bent out of shape when it turns out that the government has somewhat similar practices with regards to tracking terrorism. Yet, when advertisers do nearly the same thing, but in pursuit of serving us banner ads, no one so much as blinks.5

  1. Kate Kaye, Ad Age, “Mobile Tracking Drives Consumer Data to Mazda,” December 05, 2013.  
  2. PlaceIQ About Us Page  
  3. Kate Kaye, Ad Age, “Mobile Tracking Drives Consumer Data to Mazda,” December 05, 2013.  
  4. PlaceIQ PIQ Segments & PIQ Segments Plus  
  5. Yes I realize there is an ad running to the left of this article, but we are not tracking your movements, or serving ads to specialized segments.