GroupM offers new guidelines for mobile privacy

22 June, 2011

Innovative Effort Asks Mobile Publishers To Adopt Recommendations

NEW YORK — GroupM has developed new guidelines for safeguarding the privacy of consumers using mobile devices in a pioneering effort to introduce a high level of privacy standards to mobile communications.

The guidelines are designed to limit the amount of data collected and passed from mobile devices that can be used in marketing campaigns in order to protect consumers from the unwanted collection and distribution of their personal information.

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, GroupM’s mobile marketing specialty unit. They are part of the WPP media agency parent company’s overall, pioneering efforts in the arena of online privacy.

In issuing the new guidelines, GroupM stressed that, as an industry, mobile marketers need to establish fair and aggressive guidelines for the protection of consumer privacy in order to prevent the possibility of government regulation.

“It’s essential for marketers, agencies and third-party partners to establish and maintain consumer privacy protections while measuring mobile user behavior to intelligently target ads,” said GroupM Chief Operating Officer John Montgomery, who was a principle architect of the initiative along with Michael Collins, Chief Executive Officer of Joule.

Montgomery and Collins said the efforts have two primary goals: First, to ensure that personal identifiable information, known as PII in the mobile industry, cannot be accessed via “Unique User Identification (UUID)” mechanisms that are part of mobile telephones. The second goal is to allow consumers to opt out of behavioral targeting of mobile advertisements.

“What we’re doing is trying to take a stance on the appropriate and inappropriate use of consumer information and make sure those basic principles are used in mobile marketing techniques,” said Collins. “We need to make sure that UUID is not used to unlock PII.”

The plan calls for asking all of GroupM’s mobile publishing partners to take specific actions to protect mobile user's privacy by adopting the guidelines as soon as possible.

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 information, 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.

GroupM is a leading advocate of industry self-regulation of online privacy. Other GroupM-led initiatives in the privacy arena include promoting the use of an icon that appears on ads that inform internet users that data is being collected about their browsing behavior. In addition, Montgomery was recently named chairman of a new Privacy Committee at the American Association of Advertising Agencies that will address a wide range of Internet privacy issues as they relate to the advertising, marketing and media industries, particularly the use of interest-based advertising. He also testified in March before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee during a hearing on the issue.

GroupM is the leading global media investment management operation. It serves as the parent company to WPP media agencies including Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare. Our primary purpose is to maximize the performance of WPP’s media communications agencies on behalf of our clients, our stakeholders and our people by operating as a parent and collaborator in performance-enhancing activities such as trading, content creation, sports, digital, finance, proprietary tool development and other business-critical capabilities. The agencies that comprise GroupM are all global operations in their own right with leading market positions. The focus of GroupM is the intelligent application of physical and intellectual scale to benefit trading, innovation, and new communication services, to bring competitive advantage to our clients and our companies.

John Wolfe
Office: +1 212-297-7160
Cell: +1 914-659-8663

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