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Verizon offers rewards in exchange for customers' personal data

Becky Bracken is a writer, reporter and blogger with a specialty in communications technology. Equal parts nerd and pop culture junkie, Becky distills the latest tech news and trends with a distinctly human approach. Read more of her wor...

Would you give your information in exchange for a coupon? Verizon sure hopes so.

The everyday data you generate on your smartphone is a goldmine for marketers. Even the tiniest, most mundane details about your life can unlock a veritable treasure trove of information to help companies sell you more stuff.

Now, Verizon is trying to entice its more than 100 million subscribers to give unfettered access to their personal data in return for gift cards, coupons and more through its rewards program, Verizon Smart Rewards, which launches nationwide on July 24. But before opting into the program, it's important to find out exactly what you're giving up in return.

By opting into the Verizon rewards program, customers agree to allow Verizon to access, and share across its businesses, all the data on your mobile device including:

  • Websites you visit
  • Search terms you've used
  • Location of your device (your location)
  • Apps and device feature usage
  • Demographic, interests and behavior usage (including ad responses, shopping behaviors, etc.)
  • Anything related to your Verizon account including billing history and device usage

With this level of detailed information, it's not hard to imagine your mobile phone company knowing more about you than just about anyone. Are you ready for that level of intimacy with a communications service provider? And while Verizon assures customers the information is kept anonymous and not shared with any company outside of Verizon, it doesn't say anything about businesses paying Verizon to access your device with advertising.

Mobile marketers have been trying for years to push advertising to your smartphone that's relevant to exactly where you are. It's the location-based data generated by the GPS on your mobile device that's super juicy for marketing types.

Been searching for deals on a late summer beach vacation? Your mobile phone provider wants to be able to capture that information and charge the swim boutique you pass every day on the way to the office to send you a coupon the next time you walk by the shop. For the mobile marketer your smartphone data is the Holy Grail of selling you more stuff. Now Verizon wants its customers to get on board.

Companies like Verizon stand to make a fortune accessing your personal data to sell you more stuff. In fact, according to Gartner Research, advertisers are projected to spend $18 billion in 2014 on mobile marketing and should reach a staggering $41.9 billion by 2017.

Verizon is also approaching its FiOS broadband customers with an offer of increased upload speeds in exchange for participating in its rewards program.

Do you think rewards points and coupons are enough to get you to let Verizon access your mobile device data? Let us know what you think.

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