It’s Time To Establish ‘Best Practices’ For Geo-Data And Privacy

As location data becomes an integral part of ad targeting and audience insights, the question of protecting consumer privacy is likely to become a bigger issues for companies in the space.

As brands and tech providers seek to head off possible regulation, the Network Advertising Initiative has tapped geo-data specialist Factual as a member to help develop best practices around the collection of smartphone users’ location signals.

“The internet as we know it is built on a foundation of data; without consumer trust and privacy safeguards, the entire monetization ecosystem that enables the free services we enjoy will cease to function,” said Gil Elbaz, founder and CEO of Factual. “As a neutral, behind the scenes data company, it’s been vital since day one to treat consumer data with the utmost respect, and I’m delighted to have the NAI’s seal of approval on our practices.”

The NAI, a non-profit trade group founded in 2000 to maintain and enforce self-governing industry standards for data collection and use of data in online and mobile advertising, is comprised of over 100 marketing and related ad tech companies.

Factual provides location data to buyers and sellers of media as well as developers and other analytics platforms — but doesn’t sell ads. Membership in the trade group is validation of its process for handling data, said Vikas Gupta, Factual’s director of marketing.

“We are excited to welcome Factual as a new member,” said NAI President and CEO Leigh Freund. “Factual has an innovative business model and creative approach to data collection and use for digital advertising. We look forward to working with them to continuing NAI’s leadership in self-regulation for our industry.”

Factual is also a participant in the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) and the DAA’s AppChoices app, which makes it easy for consumers to exercise choice and opt-out from interest-based advertising.

Factual is not the only geo-location specialist in the NAI. Others include PlaceIQ, NinthDecimal, Skyhook, and Cuebiq. But the addition suggests a greater prominence of tackling the issues related to consumer privacy and geo-data.

“The characteristics of location data that make it such a powerful tool for marketers to understand their consumers, reach them with targeted messages, and analyze the performance of their campaigns are also those that have the potential to make consumers wary about what data is being collected on them and how it’s being used,” says Gupta.

“As such, establishing best practices with respect to this data behooves everyone — marketers can have confidence that companies that abide by these practices are managing data properly, and consumers can have confidence that these same companies are treating their data with the care and respect it deserves,” Gupta adds. By joining the NAI, our approach to privacy now has validation from a respected organization, and the NAI has the leading neutral location data company working with it to continue its leadership in self-regulation in our industry.”