Consider a very simple smartphone application that will record your daily fitness activities. The app will measure how many steps you’ve walked every day, or how many minutes you walked, ran, drove, or rode, and it will tell you the distance you traveled every day, and even how many calories were burned in any activities you did.
The app works in the background and does not interfere at all with mobile operations. You do not need an extra accessory to take with you, because smartphones are always with us. This app can tell you at all times how your day has played out, as well as information on past days.
If you did other activities like training in the gym, ballet, soccer, climbing, golf, paintball, or even badminton, the app will have a daily diary documenting your physical activity.
Such an app will really make you examine your life in a different way — really eye-opening. I know this because I have used the app for many months now. I found the app at the same time I became interested in products such as Fitbit and the like.
This application is called Moves. The company bearing the same name was founded in January 2012 in Finland. It launched its app the following year, and it has won many accolades and millions of downloads — Apple called the app a “surprise hit.”
Now think about a mobile app that knows where you are at any moment. An app that knows how many times each day you walk, run, drive, ride, exercise, dance, or play badminton, as well as how long you performed each activity, how long you’ve been active for, how much time you spent at work, at home, in other places, and in which places you have been. Moreover, the app knows these data over time, and it can calculate weekly, monthly, and yearly activities.
I can hear the shouts of, “Big Brother sees and knows everything!” Please relax: You gave up your privacy the moment you opened an email account.
That’s not all: Now think about advertising and the data Facebook will have on its users — it sounds like a wet dream for marketers and a nightmare for users’ privacy. Last Thursday, that dream became a reality.
Moves announced that it was acquired by Facebook last Thursday, saying in a letter to users that the software will continue to operate as a stand-alone application and there is no plan to change that.
The acquisition was announced shortly after Facebook’s first-quarter earnings call, so it flew a bit under the radar, perhaps on purpose. The social network laconically referred to it, saying that team members from Moves will work at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.
The announcement contained no direct reference to the possibilities for marketers, but I have a few hypotheses:
- Facebook and, therefore, marketers will be able to segment users by types of daily, weekly, and monthly activities (assuming that users have both the Moves and Facebook apps, which is likely in most cases).
- Facebook can analyze how many hours users spend at home, at work, and in other places.
- Facebook will know what activities are more common for users during the day.
- Facebook and, therefore, marketers will be able to segment users who change their habits and their activities — for example, doing more running or going to the gym more.
In other words, Facebook acquired a very strong and very effective app that will give it a live stream of information on the daily activities of each user.
Think about marketers who wish to advertise on Facebook and target people who just returned from running — in the near future, they might be able to.