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Who's Using Mobile Location Services?

Men more likely to access location-based info

Whether checking in at a coffee shop or finding a tailor down the block, the prevalence of smartphones has turned mobile users into active sharers of their location and searchers for nearby establishments. And these two trends offer significant opportunity to advertisers and retailers, as social-local-mobile integration can help businesses better target users in the right place at the right time.

According to a May 2013 study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, three out of 10 US male and female social media users had their accounts set up to include their locations in their posts. Unsurprisingly, younger users were the most likely to use location tagging, at a rate of 32% to 34% for those between 18 and 49 years old. But 26% of older social users in the 50-to-64 age bracket also used location tagging.

A smaller 12% of smartphone owners—as opposed to social media users—actively checked in at locations, with the greatest percentage using Facebook to do so.

Among the different ethnicities surveyed, there was a clear leader for mobile check-ins: Just shy of one-quarter of US Hispanic smartphone owners checked in with their location, nearly double the percentage of smartphone owners overall who checked in. Active check-ins seem to be on the decline overall, however, down from 18% total checking in last February.

Accessing location-based services on mobile is an even more common phenomenon than location tagging or mobile check-ins, as it offers clear utility, compared to the somewhat superfluous act of broadcasting one’s location. More than three-quarters of male smartphone owners and 72% of female smartphone owners accessed local information on mobile, according to Pew. The distribution was somewhat wide across age groups, though, with 80% of those between 18 and 29 years old using these services vs. 65% of those between 50 and 64 years old.

White smartphone owners were notably likely to access location-based mobile information, with 76% doing so, compared to 73% of Hispanics and 67% of blacks. Accessing info on mobile was fairly even across incomes.


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