Groupon Updates Mobile Sharing & Privacy Guidelines, Now Collecting More Personal Info

Group-buying powerhouse Groupon sent an email to users over the weekend outlining changes to its terms of use and privacy policies.  The most important of which relates to how the company is collecting and using mobile location data and the breadth of information now collected on users of its service.

“If you use a Groupon mobile app and you allow sharing through your device, Groupon may collect geo-location information from the device and use it for marketing deals to you (and for other purposes listed in the ‘How Groupon Uses Personal Information’ section of the Updated Privacy Statement),” the email said.  The company also said that these changes “address some new types of business relationships the company is forging and new technologies it is implementing or may use.”

What this means is that the company has broadened the definition of personal information to include your interests and habits and that it will share that personal information with partners in new offering areas, such as travel deals with Expedia.  The company said that it’s trying to improve readability of its consumer information and give greater transparency to its customers.  While the group-buying phenomenon continues to gain momentum, the real battle will be on the mobile front going forward, and that’s exactly what Groupon is preparing for.

While Groupon may have had an advantage in the beginning by simply being the first to market with the “social buying” concept, a slew of competitors have popped up since offering the exact same thing.  Companies like LivingSocial have done well giving Groupon a run for its money.  Moving forward, however, the emerging winner will be defined by how these companies translate their success on the Web to the mobile channel.  Groupon knows this and is positioning itself to collect as much user data as possible to be able to serve up the most relevant deals possible.

Therein lies the key to the future of social buying.  While daily deals are big with users these days, there remains no relevance between the deals emailed to users everyday and what the users actually like to purchase.  Building on this model while leveraging the targeting and relevance capabilities of the mobile channel will be the true test.  Groupon is quickly laying the groundwork, but only time will tell if it will pay off in the end.