Category: App Development
Millennials to Digital Marketers: Mind Your Manners
A more relaxed attitude towards data collection, but marketers should ask first

A recent study at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication looked at how individuals perceive the collection and use of consumer data. Reading a review of the study in the NYT, prompted me to wonder how my peers in the Millennial Generation view the issue.

Penn’s survey studied all age categories of individuals, ranging from 18-89, with the majority of the respondents in the 35-49 age category. I wanted to see if young adults in my generation, the millennial generation, felt differently about data collection. I decided to conduct an informal survey of my peers (I did not use statistical survey methodology) to determine if my generation had a more relaxed attitude towards data collection.

I surveyed 75 people between the ages of 16-24 to determine if a younger age resulted in a more open attitude towards data collection. I asked the same questions found in Penn’s study with the addition of one question regarding mobile location.

° Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

*Penn did not provide “neither agree or disagree” as multiple choice option, but instead a volunteered option

**Question not asked in Penn survey

Millenials vs. Overall Population

In some categories, my results were very similar to those found in the Penn study. For example, 86% of respondents to my survey did not believe it was fair to exchange personal information for a discount on products. The Penn survey found 91% of respondents believed the above exchange was unfair. However, in some categories, the millennial generation displayed a more relaxed attitude. 64% of respondents to my survey agreed that it would be okay if a store they shopped at used their information to improve the services the store provided. Only 42% of the respondents to the Penn survey thought such data collection was acceptable.

Using Location for Messaging

Furthermore, I asked survey takers an additional question in my survey regarding mobile location since it pertains to my internship at HangIt. I found that 64% of respondents think it is acceptable for a mobile application to track their location and send their device notifications based on their current locations. Though the Penn survey did not ask this question, I believe Penn survey takers would have had a more negative attitude towards this question.

Controlling Data Collection

Both cohorts of survey takers want control over what marketers can learn about them; yet, have accepted they have little control over this. Interestingly, a higher percentage of the millennial generation (76%) has a resigned attitude towards data collection, compared to 65% of respondents to the Penn survey (see table above, question 6). I believe the higher sense of resignation of the millennial generations contributes allows to be more accepting of data collection than older generations. My generation may think if we cannot stop data collection, companies might as well use the data to improve the services they provide us.

I also allowed survey takers to record any other thoughts they had on data collection. These additional comments were varied, but had one common thread: informed consent. Survey takers emphasized the importance of informed consent in data collection. One survey taker said all of his/her responses would switch from agree to disagree if a company did not secure his or her consent.

Some other comments on informed consent included:

  • “Informed consent is key.”
  • “I think it’s fair for companies to offer discounts in exchange for personal information etc. but they should make it transparent to the customer so the customer knows what they are giving in exchange for the discount, using WiFi, turning on location services, shopping at the store, etc. I don’t like giving my information but I think it’s fair for companies to collect it if I personally opt in.”
  • “I’m generally fine with having information collected about me, having come to expect it in this day and age. However, I think there should always be some kind of opt-in/opt-out, or at least a clear notice that information is being collected, because many people don’t realize just what they’re giving away. For example, on mobile applications, I almost always disallow location tracking because knowing my physical location is over the line for me personally, but other forms of data collection aren’t.”
Marketers, Mind Your Manners

While the Millennial generation does have a more relaxed attitude towards data collection, companies must respect the end user to achieve continued acceptance.

Karen Pattani-Hason of Urban Airship encourages her clients to not overuse their ability to send targeted messages to their app users based on the data they collect. She explains even though the client has the ability to send a message to the user, he or she should only do so if it provides value to the end user. I agree with her advice.

Overall, consumer privacy will continue to be a concern as technology becomes increasingly pervasive. However, if companies always ask for consent and respectfully use the data, they can use the power of data to customize and personalize their products and services, particularly for my generation.


About the Blogger: Laya Mallela is a full time student at Cornell University’s Dyson School, where she is pursuing a degree in Applied Economics and Management, with concentrations in marketing and finance. She has just completed her second year. As an intern at HangIt, Laya is excited to learn and explore the tech scene of NYC. She can be reached at

Five SDKs Loved by Mobile App Devs in SF

The app industry is growing more competitive every year. As of September 2014, there are 1.3 million apps on the App Store and only 16% of people will try your app more than twice. I spend most of my time in the San Francisco Bay Area talking with app publishers about where they are in their product cycle and how we can help them improve user engagement with mobile location. In these conversations, I’ve come to know which SDKs are valuable to certain parts of building and growing an app. The five SDK categories below are the ones I hear about most often and in each category I’ve named several specific SDKs that are loved by app publishers, and which not.

1. Crash reporting

2. Analytics

3. A/B Testing

4. In-App Feedback & Rating

5. User Engagement

Crash reporting

It’s common for new apps to deal with crashes and bugs. Crashes and bugs lead to low app store ratings, fewer installs, and a drop in active users. Eduardo Iglesias, CTO at Tutton, told me his team uses Instabug to fix these issues. “Instabug is great because it permits us not only to track crashes, but to track bugs that happened in our apps, and try to solve them. The SDK give us the ability to send a photo, with the email and a message from the user.” Crittercism is another great SDK for tracking crashes. When one occurs, they send you an email with log files so you can figure out why a crash occurred.


Your users will likely take actions in your app that you didn’t anticipate, or they could be getting stuck or dropping out of the app on certain pages. There are analytics tools that identify these pain points and opportunities in user actions. Solutions range from collecting basic data relating to mobile app usage, to more sophisticated solutions that track specific and detailed aspects of user behavior. Max Alexander, Founder at Epoque uses Mixpanel. “Mixpanel is the simplest way for me to track what users do in my app. It has a very simple user setup process which threw the burden of complexity out the window.” Mixpanel is an excellent solution for small and medium data volumes.

The one SDK that every app developer I speak with talks about is Google Analytics. It provides traditional analytics and focus on key metrics such as number of users, OS versions, geographic breakdown, session length, etc. But, if you want to dive into the user behavior and user experience, their solution won’t tell the the full story, since they emphasize the what instead of the why. For example, you may detect that you have a low user retention, but you won’t understand why users are not returning to use your app. The Localytics Analytics platform has user analytics, segmentation, engagement analysis and lifetime value tracking. It is also useful for push notification and in-app messaging management.

A/B Testing

Once you’re as close to 100% crash-free as possible and you know what users value in your app, it’s smart to test UX variants to create a better experience for users. The problem is that it’s time-consuming to submit a release to the app store only to find another necessary change that will have to wait 8-10 days for approval. Taplytics allows rapid iteration and improvement by A/B testing small UX changes in your app without submitting to the app store. The user insights and segments let you see the actions users are taking within the app so you can make informed changes to improve your app’s experience.

In-App Feedback & Rating

The app store is competitive. Five star reviews sends a powerful signal to new users that they will have an exceptional experience on your app. How many times have you seen a one star review start by saying “one star for prompting me to review their app?” Apptentive helps you get five star reviews on the app store by asking users to rate your app at the right time.

User Engagement

Once you’ve worked out bugs and solidified the core features of your app, it makes sense to focus on user engagement with app messaging. “I forgot” was the #1 reason one well-known app with a 4.5 star average review hadn’t been opened by its users in the preceding 28 days. AppBoy makes it easy to deploy engagement campaigns with push notifications and email and they produce tools to test what works best with different user segments. Also, my company, Hangit, enables apps to send their users contextually relevant messages – personalized and targeted to each user at an exact time and place. User location is highly correlated with relevance, so whether yours is a video app, a grocery list app, a messaging app, or something else, there are likely many compelling use cases for location-driven notifications.

The app development process is dynamic. Gathering data on crashes and bugs should be a priority with your new app, and as you gain momentum, it will be important to engage and grow active users and (hopefully) monetize. Good luck!