• 08.15.12

Your Smartphone Could Be Telling Advertisers How You Shop And Spend

A mobile advertising firm has unveiled one of the most ambitious smartphone advertising projects to date–a Facebook Social Graph style “Location Graph” for the demographics, spending, and shopping/restaurant habits of smartphone users.

Your Smartphone Could Be Telling Advertisers How You Shop And Spend
[Flickr user [url=]John Karakatsanis[/url]

Your smartphone could be telling advertisers about your spending habits–what stores, restaurants, and attractions you and others around you visit and how you spend.


JiWire‘s new Location Graph, which launches today, is one of the first social graph-like products expressly for mobile. By using the new platform, the mobile advertising firm hopes clients will be able to discover lucrative hidden connections in phone users’ everyday lives–and to sell more customers on the benefits of mobile phone advertising.

JiWire’s proprietary service, which is patent pending, is powered by more than 3 billion location tags (similar to what users see in Yelp or Foursquare), with more than 16 million added per day. Information from these location tags is cross-referenced with information on phone users’ demographics triangulated from location-based apps or public wifi hotspots. JiWire claims to be able to demographic information such as whether users have children or their income range through thee process. Also equally important in a future-techy sort of way is the ability to keep tabs on what restaurants customers of certain stores tend to frequent.

The mobile ad industry, dominated by a few large players like Google’s AdMob, is currently at the toddler stage. Although advertisements have become ubiquitous in many apps, mobile ad firms and advertisers are finding it difficult to straddle the fine line between eyecatching, revenue-generating, and creepy. JiWire’s social graph can help advertisers through providing information on the percentage of visitors with children to zoos, and what restaurants those visitors with children frequent. The location graph can also offer advertisers discrete information on data sets like “moms who go to beauty salons” and the number one banks of Peet’s Coffee customers (Wells Fargo) vs. Starbucks Coffee (Bank of America) customers.

Hooking advertisers on mobile is the primary reason JiWire embarked on this ambitious project. Revenue streams for the Location Graph will be derived from sharing information and correlations between locations with clients; the company will also create audience mapping for mobile advertising clients. “We want to help brands move confidently into mobile,” JiWire interim CEO David Staas told Fast Company. JiWire also has initiative to embark on ambitious new projects: Their lucrative advertisement contract with free wi fi provider Boingo Wireless is expected to end in December 2012.

According to JiWire, their Location Graph meets TRUSTe standards for mobile standards. TRUSTe is also partnering with JiWire in their ongoing TRUSTed Mobile Ads program. According to TRUSTe CEO Chris Babel, the partnership will offer “highly relevant advertising in a privacy-friendly fashion” to customers.

JiWire’s advertising network reaches approximately 55 million unique users monthly to deliver mobile ads based around users’ physical locations. According to the company, Comcast and Microsoft have already taken advantage of data gathered during beta testing for Location Graph.

For more stories like this, follow @fastcompany on Twitter. Find Neal Ungerleider, the author of this article, on Twitter and Google+.