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Delivering on the promise of privacy for advertisers

Anthony Iacovone

Anthony Iacovone is founder/CEO of AdTheorent

By Anthony Iacovone

Here is some irony: Smartphone users say that privacy is a primary concern of theirs, second only to battery life, according to a recent Truste survey called the 2013 US Consumer Data Privacy Study: Mobile Edition. 

While the study found that about one-third of mobile users do not know how mobile brands and Web sites track their online movements, it seems nearly 70 percent say they “don't like the idea” of mobile tracking, compared with only 20 percent of online users saying they “don't know” about online tracking methods.

There is an education gap in consumer privacy across online and mobile, so let us set the record straight.  

Believe it or not, mobile marketing is light years ahead of online marketing. We are not dropping cookies on your device and tracking your every move for the next 27 pages, like our digital counterparts. 

Mobile does not threaten to continuously monitor and collect browser behavior data. In fact, cookies do not exist in mobile. So how is Do Not Track relevant in the mobile space? It is not.

Here, in the mobile world, everything can be anonymized.  

Mobile real-time bidding, for example, provides inference-based targeting and prediction systems that draw a silhouette of a consumer versus a picture with even more accuracy than traditional one-to-one Web targeting. What does this mean to marketers? 

It means more accurate mobile location-based targeting that is untied to any personally identifiable information (PII). This supports consumer privacy and encourages mobile users to feel safer using their devices on the go.

Predictive targeting ends privacy concerns stemming from behavioral targeting 
When using predictive targeting, advertisers can employ a large mobile location-based campaign without disclosing or retaining a consumer’s specific time and place. 

With the transition out of using UDID and shift towards IDFA or IFA, the industry as a whole took a big step towards demonstrating to consumers that mobile marketers will not track individuals, but rather a collection of individual tendencies.

Targeting’s bad rap and why it is getting worse
Typically, a user will visit a Web site and immediately get targeted and then retargeted. That is the Web, and the Web is corrupting third-party cookies and basically targeting everyone. 

Personally, I do not like being followed for a week or two everywhere I go. Add to that, some large and well-known companies are starting to use when and where a user logs-in to their services to correlate the user between his or her PC and mobile device.  

From there, they use a user’s email address to work with retailers to correlate a path between all things. It is no wonder targeting has such a negative connotation associated with it.

Know the consumer without stalking or behavioral tracking
But in the world of mobile, everything can be different. 

Thousands of data points that are not individually identifiable are cultivated and then used to draw the profile of an individual. 

You can uncover information about a person’s social economic circumstances, her surrounding weather condition, general neighborhood information and then use this anonymous non-PII data for predictive targeting. 

It is all about integrity
Maintaining the integrity of consumer privacy is king, but so is delivering actionable data to marketers. 

With mobile, marketers can do this while not violating consumer privacy. The opportunity provided by mobile is a win-win. 

After all, if a consumer is afraid to download an application, share her location data or keep on her Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, we do not move forward. 

By using mobile real-time bidding and predictive targeting, marketers can address these privacy concerns now while giving the comfort that consumers need to remain open and enthusiastic about innovations and new ways to use their devices while on the go.

Anthony Iacovone is founder/CEO of AdTheorent, New York. Reach him at

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Related content: Columns, Anthony Iacovone, AdTheorent, predictive targeting, privacy, luxury marketing, luxury, mobile advertising, mobile commerce, mobile marketing, mobile

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