In a bid to expand their Relevant Mobile Advertising program beyond their customers’ wireless devices, Verizon Wireless is going to start including data from desktop and laptop computers, a move that will allow them to better target the ads that will display on their customers cell phones and tablets.
In advertising circles this is what they refer to as the “holy grail,” as bridging devices is exceedingly difficult for advertisers. Being able to track a person’s movements from one device to another would allow advertisers, publishers and marketers to push their brands and products much more but, as of right now, the technology isn’t completely available.
Verizon’s new expansion brings it closer however, and many worry that, while users will have the availability to opt-out, the day may come when this is no longer optional.
Speaking of opting out, like most websites, when a user visits Verizon’s website on their laptop or PC, Verizon leaves a “cookie” on their computer with an anonymized identifier. Nothing new about that.
The twist is that Verizon will now make that identifier available to third-party mobile ad firms.
That doesn’t mean that these third-party firms will know exactly who the user is that they’re getting data about, but they will know about their “likes,” the places they visited, where they’ve spent money and much more.
A representative from Verizon, Deborah Lewis, noted that the timeline for Verizon’s new program started back in 2011 when privacy policies were changed. Anyone who was a customer when those changes occurred or opened a Verizon account after they were made should have gotten a notice in their “My Verizon” notification center.
Interestingly, the information being collected is limited to desktop and laptop activity alone and won’t affect info coming from mobile browsers.
And, as for opting out, the user simply needs to go to their My Verizon page, login, scroll down on the left-hand side of the page to Manage My Account and then click on Manage Privacy Settings. From there they will see a section entitled Relevant Mobile Advertising and, if wanting to opt out, should disable this option and wait to get their confirmation.
Once that’s done, a user should breathe a sigh of relief and cross their fingers that, in the future, this option will still be made available. But Verizon may just have other plans.