Geolocation: GPS, IP addresses and Wi-Fi

A study by researchers from Australia’s ICT research centre NICTA revealed in 2012 that geolocation based on IP addresses alone is off by 100 km in approximately 70 per cent of all cases. With regular broadband, it is possible to have more accurate predictions, but since mobile data is, well, mobile, it means that the user moves around quite a bit. If you roam in another country, for example, your IP will still register you as being in the country of your operator.

In other words, for consumer monitoring or surveillance purposes, IP address location data is worthless.

So why does turning on wifi make location data more accurate? Because turning on wifi means turning on the device’s access to a database on wifi access points and radio towers. So-called Wi-Fi-based positioning systems (WPS) are maintained by different companies, most notably Google, Microsoft and Apple.  On the plus side, your phone gets an accurate location read even though you’re inside a building. The downside? You get tracked even though you have your GPS turned off and you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network, but simply have your phone’s Wi-Fi on.

In some cases, the phone keeps tracking networks even though Wi-Fi is off. Google does acknowledges this with the following statement:

“To improve location accuracy and for other purposes, Google and other apps may scan for nearby networks, even when wifi is off. If you don’t want this to happen, go to advanced > scanning always available.”

If you have a Google account, it could be worth checking out where you’ve been the past year through Google’s location history service.

In light of this, it becomes clear that any data retention laws that governments might have pale in comparison with the data retention gathered as a part of services provided by Google, Apple or Microsoft.

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The Golden Age of product placement

It began with file-sharing and continued with streaming services: the traditional television ad has run its course. Why? Because consumers either don’t care about or love advertising. If they love it, they will flock to YouTube and watch it in the millions.

When an ad is really good, it goes viral, and when it goes viral, sales go up.

But for most ads, either on television or in video streams, your fingers itch to just skip the ad. Numbers vary between 70 and 85 %, but it is clear that the majority really doesn’t want to see ads. Over 15 million installed adblockers is a clear message to advertisers. If I were an advertiser, I would stop buying tv or online pre- post- or mid-roll ads right away.

So what advertising counts? Product placement.  But isn’t the medium the message, or distribution King Kong? Over 10 billion sold cigarettes say otherwise.

Mad Men Lucky Strike sales

Source: Ivey Business Review

People will continue to watch tv shows and movies, but providing platform based advertising is just reactive. With product placement, every illegally shared file is a victory.