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Verizon Unveils “Smart Rewards” Program with Geolocation Tracking

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Verizon Wireless, America’s largest wireless carrier, will unveil a comprehensive, nationwide loyalty program this week as an offering to its subscribers.  This Smart Rewards program will lead the way as the first-of-its-kind all-inclusive program among wireless carriers, and subscribers can expect big payoff in loyalty benefits.

Smart Rewards’ national debut is unique in that it will offer customers the chance to reap substantial rewards, in exchange for customers’ consent to allow movement tracking and geolocation data to be compiled.  This will in turn allow Verizon to deliver targeted ads that cater to customers’ interests and values.  In some states, the program has already been in place the past few months.  Verizon Vice President of Wireless Marketing, Jeffrey Nelson, said customer retention was “very good,” during the trial period, though he did not provide further details.

The world of wireless is here to stay, and it is ubiquitous – nearly every adult American now owns a mobile phone.  The battle of the modern wireless landscape is not to get new phones into empty pockets, but to entice customers enough to switch carriers.  Therefore, a chief concern for companies is ensuring their customers are protected against such tantalizing treason.

At its heart, Smart Rewards is a loyalty program by design.  However, the company hopes to utilize Smart Rewards as a segue for customers to enroll in Verizon Selects, a program launched in 2012 that gathers mobile surfing and geolocation data to offer more personalized targeted ads to users.

Initial enrollment in Verizon Selects is required for subscribers who want to take advantage of Smart Rewards, but they will have the choice to opt-out of Selects and continue using Smart Rewards.  Subscribers enrolled in both programs will accrue additional Smart Rewards points monthly by virtue of dual enrollment.

Customers enrolled will earn points for a number of additional activities, including points for every dollar spent on wireless service, upgrading to smartphones, recycling older phones, among other things.  Once accrued, these points can be used for hotel and travel discounts, including car rentals and products from the Verizon catalog and to bid on mobile phones and devices at online auctions on the Verizon website.

Verizon Wireless says its Selects program does not distribute any specific, personally identifiable information on its customers to advertisers.  However, the introduction of geolocation tracking data from cell towers will pose a true test to where customer boundaries lie concerning personal privacy.

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