T-Mobile sells your app and web history to advertisers

Image for article titled Of course, T-Mobile is shady with your app downloads and browsing history

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In Again another one Example of T-Mobile being the worst with customer data, the company announced a lucrative new program this week: sell his clients’ app download web browsing data and history to advertisers.

The packet of data is part of the company’s new adtech product “App Insights” which was in beta last year but officially deployed this week. According to AdExchanger, which reported for the first time Cannes Film Festival announcement newsthe new product will allow marketers to track and target T-Mobile customers based on the apps they’ve downloaded and their “engagement patterns,” i.e. when or how often they open and close particular apps.

These same “patterns” also include the types of domains a person visits in their mobile web browser. All of this data is grouped into what the company calls “personas”, which let marketers microtarget someone based on their phone habits. One example that T-Mobile’s Head of Advertising Products, Jess Zhu, told AdExchanger was that someone with a human resources app on their phone who also tends to visit, for example, the website from Expedia, could be grouped as a “business traveler”. The company noted that there are no personalities built on “gender or cultural identity.— so someone who visits a lot of Christian websites, for example, and has installed a Bible app or two won’t be profiled based on that.

“App Insights turns that data into actionable insights. Marketers can see app usage, growth, and retention and compare activity across brands and product categories,” says T-Mobile. Lily.

T-Mobile (and Sprint, by association) are certainly not the only carriers to pawn this data; as Ars Technica first noted Last yearVerizon ignored customers’ privacy preferences to sell their browsing and app usage data. And while AT&T originally planned to sell access to similar data almost a decade agothe company currently complaints which he uses exclusively “non-sensitive information” such as your age range and zip code to serve targeted ads.

But T-Mobile won’t stop marketers from taking matters into their own hands, either. An ad agency executive who spoke with AdExchanger said that one of the “most exciting” things about this new ad product is the ability to microtarget members of the LGBTQ community. Of course, it’s not one of the predefined personas offered in the App Insights product,” but a marketer could target phones with Grindr installed, for example, or use those audiences for analytics. “, notes the original interview.

There is, of course, the question of how this is all legal, especially considering that several mobile carriers (including T-Mobile!) suffered fines in 2020 for pledging customer data to brokers without their consent, years after promising not to.

The answer is that they had promised not to sell location The data. Oeb browsing data is still on the table. And while T-Mobile isn’t integrating people’s locations into its new data product, AdExchanger notes the company wouldn’t. prevent an agency from, say, working with another ad technology provider to obtain this information themselves. And as we have seen in the old daysthere are certainly sellers out there who are willing to give up that location data for the right price.

There is, however, a bright spot; at least for now, T-Mobile does not allow marketers to microtarget iOS users. Apple’s recent privacy updates have made data collection a headache and a liability for some of the greatest players in the dataset, and that apparently includes mobile carriers. So, no Apple data enters (or leaves) the App Insights product, says T-Mobile. Here again, it is the same company that chose its customers in a targeted advertising program that neither of them consented.

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