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Verizon offers rewards, if you agree to be tracked

NEW YORK — Verizon Wireless is launching a loyalty program this week for its 100-million-plus subscribers. There’s a twist, though: To earn points for every dollar spent, subscribers must consent to have their movements tracked so the company can help target ads that match their interests.

Verizon is the first wireless carrier to roll out a comprehensive rewards program, and it’s expecting big benefits.

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Jeffrey Nelson, vice president of wireless marketing, suggested that even that limited program helped with customer retention, though he didn’t provide details.

Because nearly every adult now has a cellphone, the industry is past its days of heady growth. New customers have to be lured from other carriers, and defending the customers you have against such overtures is paramount.

Nelson said Smart Rewards is designed as a loyalty program, but the company is also using that to encourage enrollment in Verizon Selects. That program, launched in 2012, uses subscriber surfing and location data to better target ads they see on the phone.

Enrollment in Selects is mandatory for subscribers who want to start taking advantage of Smart Rewards, but they can then leave Selects and keep using Smart Rewards.

Verizon Wireless says the Selects program doesn’t give any personally identifiable information to advertisers. Verizon says the program differs little from Web advertising programs like Google Inc.’s, which uses vast amounts of personal data for ad targeting.

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