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Big data, location-based apps and smartphones

We’ve been thinking about the potential of big data (large, continuing streams of computer-readable data) for development applications. There is nothing about development in the marketing campaign below, but can any zealous privacy advocate identify a problem with it?

A mobile campaign by Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide, which is based in Chicago, places the ads for the thermometer within popular apps like Pandora that collect basic details about users, including their sex and whether they are parents, and can pinpoint specific demographics to receive ads.

But not all mothers will see the ad on their smartphones. Rather, the ads will be sent only to devices that, according to Google, are in regions experiencing a high incidence of flu. Also, the ads will only be delivered to mothers within two miles of retailers that carry the thermometer, including Walmart, Target and Babies “R” Us.

“Flu levels in your area are high,” says the banner ad within an app. “Be prepared with Vicks revolutionary Behind Ear Thermometer.”

Tapping the ad, which also notes the nearest store that sells the thermometer (“Buy at Rite Aid .3 miles away.”), brings users to a product page with items including an informational video and a list of nearby retailers. Tapping a retailer reveals directions there.

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