MoviePass CEO, Mitch Lowe, has caused controversy by telling the Hollywood audience at the Entertainment Finance Forum that his MoviePass app can track and gather information about users before and after their trip to the movies.
What Is MoviePass?
MoviePass, based in New York, offers a service whereby, for a flat monthly fee ($9.95 per month), users can go and watch unlimited number of movies in cinemas, with some restrictions. It could be described as a kind of Netflix for moviegoers.
According to the MoviePass CEO, the company’s app has location-tracking built-in. What some commentators have described as ‘creepy’ though is that the app can track your movements long before and after you’ve been to watch a movie.
What MoviePass prefers to call ‘location-based marketing’ is reportedly being used to improve the customer’s experience of the service and create more opportunities for subscribers to enjoy all the various elements of what the company thinks make up a good movie night. The company says that by tracking customers and gathering data along the way, it can “create a full-featured movie-going experience”.
The big idea is that subscribers may want refreshments before or after the movie, and may have to travel some distance to the cinema. By knowing a subscriber’s location and route, MoviePass can then, via the phone app, give the subscriber details like discounts on transportation, finding places to park nearby, coupons for nearby restaurants, and other similar opportunities.
What Kind Of Data Is Gathered?
According to online reporting of CEO Lowe’s speech, as well as your location, the MoviePass app is also capable of gathering “an enormous amount of information,” which includes your address, which Mr Lowe says can be used for demographic information.
What MoviePass may see as a kind of personalised, helpful marketing idea, critics appear to see as a potentially dangerous invasion of privacy that could have security consequences for MoviePass subscribers.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Using new technology to improve marketing and customer experiences is all very well, but the point here is that customers need to be informed exactly what happens to their data, what is collected by the app, how it’s stored and for how long. This will enable them to make an informed choice, give consent, or decline. In a time when cyber-crime and data mismanagement and theft appear to be rife, customers value their privacy and data security more than ever. Companies need to be transparent about their intentions and methods, and need to be able to show customers that they can be trusted with their valuable personal data.
Also, in this case, it appeared to come as a shock about the capabilities of the app, and to some commentators, it may have appeared to be an inappropriate way and style to reveal what the app is capable of. This is likely to prompt complaints from some customers, and could harm the reputation of MoviePass.
If you are worried about the security implications of apps of this kind, for example, you could try to limit location data collection by going into your phone’s app settings. One other, obvious way to avoid any problems with the app would be to avoid MoviePass for now.
The introduction of GDPR in May this year is also likely to have implications for how MoviePass deals with the data of any EU citizen subscribers, as the company will need to comply with the new Regulation.