Is there a study about a user's reaction to a browser request of a geolocation?

What is the percentage of acceptation? In which case? What triggers acceptance and what triggers denial?

  • What does 'request of geolocation' mean? On the desktop, the client location can be determined by the IP address in the request header. In a mobile app, the location can be determined in several ways. Oct 17, 2014 at 21:11
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    @user1757436, Solene is referring to how a user reacts when a user is presented with a request by the OS (desktop or mobile) to allow the browser to send a geolocation to the server. Oct 17, 2014 at 23:17
  • @EvilClosetMonkey Understood...and the ubiquity of web site's detecting a desktop browser location without asking permission was the source of my question. When would asking permission to do something most sites do already be necessary? I do not understand the context in which this question would be asked. Oct 18, 2014 at 1:09
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    @user1757436, I believe that Solene is asking in cases where the browser is requesting your exact (as close as possible) position - using any/all methods, including GPS. For example, visit Yelp.com on your mobile browser and it will ask if it can use your position so it can find nearby eateries. An ip address can give you a broad area, but not actually tell the browser the user's real location to any degree of accuracy. Oct 18, 2014 at 1:42
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    I always deny, and I get rather annoyed when asked at the wrong time. Most of the time, it comes up when I click a link from Google trying to find some restaurant/park/etc... I didn't ask for directions from where I'm at, so it bugs me that they're asking. I actually was thinking this question the other day - when the geolocation API came out it seemed like everyone was using it but now not so much. I wandered if those using without good reason (or without giving users reasonable incentive to accept) got a lot of negative feedback. I'd also be curious about any studies done on this.
    – Phil Tune
    Oct 21, 2014 at 12:57

3 Answers 3


As always, it depends of type of user and service. For example,

  • Users will accept if you explain the benefit, and it is worth it.

  • Younger users will be less reticent to accept than older ones.

  • And so on.

I have been working on a responsive website for a clothing store franchise, and the smartphone version asks geolocation when you are looking for the nearest store. That is pertinent and useful, and users will usually accept.

However, a service that asks for your geolocation without a clear purpose (i.e. when you turn on the app), or for sending you unspecified (i.e. "local offers"), will probably have more refusals.

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    You may be right, but there are some assumptions here. Do you know younger users are less reticent to accept, for example?
    – JonW
    Oct 22, 2014 at 8:44
  • I'm not so sure on saying younger people will be more likely to accept. I've not done any research in this so take what I say with a pinch of salt but it seems to me that young people are a lot more aware of the dangers that lie online, of tracking, not giving out info unnecessarily, etc... For an older person that a map would need to know where you are could seem logical, so that it will load the map of your area and not a similarly named town in South Africa or whatever. Oct 22, 2014 at 12:54

My experience running studies was that about 25-30% of study participants using Chrome didn't even notice the request.

Chrome Geolocation

Some participants quickly scanned content on the site and ignored everything else. They hadn't considered whether they wanted to 'allow' or 'deny' geolocation -- they hadn't even noticed that a decision was being requested.

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    do you think that's a 'banner blindness' thing?
    – colmcq
    Oct 23, 2014 at 14:23

A little point to be aware of: Some users might decline to provide their location or just ignore the request because they know it won't be accurate.

If their location information is derived from their IP address, it can be off by a long shot. In my case when using the Internet from home, it shows up hundreds of kilometres away on the central coast of New South Wales. I live inland in north-east NSW. As far as I can tell, this is down to some quirk of how Telstra runs things on their side. This will also happen by design if your users are using a VPN to connect to your site, too.

If you want to provide some location-based service, like finding local branches of your store, provide your users with an option to manually specify a location. Don't just rely on automated means of getting it.

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