GroupM updates mobile privacy guidelines


GroupM’s COO John Montgomery testified in March before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee during a hearing on internet privacy issues. Out of those hearings, the mega media agency just issued new guidelines underscoring the fact that mobile marketers need to establish fair and aggressive guidelines for the protection of consumer privacy in order to prevent the possibility of government regulation.

The guidelines safeguard the privacy of consumers using mobile devices by limiting the amount of data collected and passed from mobile devices that can be used in marketing campaigns. The goal is to protect consumers from the unwanted collection and distribution of their personal info.

Montgomery was a principle architect of the initiative along with Michael Collins, CEO of Joule, GroupM’s mobile marketing specialty unit. There are two specific goals: First, to ensure that personal identifiable info, known as “PII,” cannot be accessed via “Unique User Identification (UUID)” mechanisms that are part of mobile phones. The second goal is to allow consumers to opt out of behavioral targeting of mobile ads.

As part of the new initiative, GroupM’s mobile publishing partners will be urged to adopt the recommendations, which were developed in conjunction with Joule.  The plan asks all of GroupM’s mobile publishing partners to take specific actions to protect mobile user’s privacy by adopting the guidelines ASAP.

The guidelines include urging mobile publishers to mask UUIDs whenever possible to ensure a greater degree of consumer privacy, and to clearly display privacy policies for consumer review.  Publishers are also asked to explicitly state within privacy policies what info, including location and UUID, is being captured, paired with other data and/or shared with third parties.  In addition, publishers should enable and provide notification of consumer opt-out.

RBR-TVBR observation: The IAB, 4As and media agencies have consistently managed to stay one step ahead of government regulation on internet and mobile privacy issues. Self-regulation is the way to go and the industry is doing well at it. Basically, marketers don’t necessarily need to know who you are specifically, but to be able to tabulate—anonymously–where you go on the internet, what appeals to you and how you react to different messaging. When a marketer adds up huge numbers of unidentifiable user info, the campaign’s effectiveness is gauged. It’s none of their business who you are specifically.