Skip to main content

FTC issues report and guidelines on cross-device tracking


Given audience fragmentation across devices and platforms, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of tracking and data to get a more complete view of the customer. Cross-device tracking is now on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) radar, as a kind of more sophisticated sibling of behavioral targeting.

Last fall, the FTC held a workshop for stakeholders and interested parties in Washington, D.C. Earlier this week it released a report based on on that meeting providing an overview of the state of cross-device tracking and making recommendations about privacy, consumer consent and security.

The FTC report discusses the two types of tracking: probabilistic (data matching) and deterministic (signed-in usage). In its research, the agency found that nearly 90 percent of the sites it examined were engaged in some version cross-device tracking, either through first-party log-ins or device/data matching.

However, the agency didn’t condemn cross-device tracking. Indeed, it identified five primary benefits:

  • Helps create a seamless experience for consumers across their devices
  • Improved fraud detection and account security
  • Enable marketers to provide consumers with a better online experience
  • Help companies avoid the over- saturation of ads and deliver more relevant ads
  • Enhance competition in the advertising arena

On the other hand, the FTC flagged a number of concerns and privacy issues:

  • Most consumers are not aware of how extensive cross-device tracking is
  • Consumers are largely unaware of data matching and probabilistic tracking, when they’re not signed in
  • Most companies are not discussing cross-device tracking in their privacy policies
  • Consumers are not aware of the sharing of data with many third party services and networks
  • Consumers who aren’t happy about cross-device tracking don’t have many options to control its use
  • Cross-device tracking and corresponding mass data aggregation may represent a hacking/security concern

In the report, the FTC lauded self-regulatory efforts by the NAI and DAA but concluded that they didn’t go far enough. The agency makes a set of recommendations it would like to see implemented accordingly. I have paraphrased the recommendations at the highest level:

  • Transparency: Companies engaged in cross-device tracking—both the companies themselves and publishers who hire these companies—should truthfully disclose their tracking activities. Another aspect of transparency is making truthful claims about the categories of data collected.
  • Choice: Companies should offer consumers choices about how their cross-device activity is tracked. When companies offer such choices, the FTC Act requires that companies respect them. To the extent opt-out tools are provided, any material limitations on how they apply or are implemented with respect to cross-device tracking must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed.
  • Data sensitivity: Companies should refrain from engaging in cross-device tracking on sensitive topics, including health, financial, and children’s information, without consumers’ affirmative express consent. They should also refrain from collecting and sharing precise geolocation information without consumers’ affirmative express consent.
  • Security: Companies must maintain reasonable security, in order to avoid future unexpected and unauthorized uses of data, including by hackers and other wrongdoers who could access the data via a data breach. Companies should keep only the data necessary for their business purposes and properly secure the data they do collect and maintain.

There are nuances with each of the above, as well as examples discussed — including companies that have run afoul of the guidelines. It’s worth taking a look because the FTC implies that failure to abide by its recommendations could subject companies to sanctions.

via Marketing Land


Popular posts from this blog

How to Get SMS Alerts for Gmail via Twitter

How do you get SMS notifications on your mobile phone for important emails in your Gmail? Google doesn’t support text notifications for their email service but Twitter does. If we can figure out a way to connect our Twitter and Gmail accounts, the Gmail notifications can arrive as text on our mobile via Twitter. Let me explain:Twitter allows you to follow any @user via a simple SMS. They provide short codes for all countries (see list) and if you text FOLLOW to this shortcode following by the  username, any tweets from that user will arrive in your phone as text notifications. For instance, if you are in the US, you can tweet FOLLOW labnol to 40404 to get my tweets as text messages. Similarly, users in India can text FOLLOW labnol to 9248948837 to get the tweets via SMS.The short code service of Twitter can act as a Gmail SMS notifier. You create a new Twitter account, set the privacy to private and this account will send a tweet when you get a new email in Gmail. Follow this account …

Instagram Story links get 15-25% swipe-through rates for brands, publishers

Instagram may arrived late as a traffic source for brands and publishers, but it’s already showing early signs of success, driving new visitors to their sites and even outperforming its parent company, Facebook.For years brands, publishers and other have tried to push people from the Facebook-owned photo-and-video-sharing app to their sites. Outside of ads and excepting a recent test with some retailers, Instagram didn’t offer much help to companies looking to use it to drive traffic. So they had to find workarounds. They put links in their Instagram bios. They scrawled short-code URLs onto their pictures. And they typed out links in their captions.Then last month Instagram finally introduced an official alternative to these hacky workarounds: the ability for verified profiles to insert links in their Instagram Stories.Almost a month after the launch, 15% to 25% of the people who see a link in an Instagram Story are swiping on it, according to a handful of brands and publishers that h…

Five great tools to improve PPC ads

Every digital marketer wants to reach the top position on the search engine results. However, if you’ve recently launched a new website or your niche is saturated, starting with paid search ads sounds like a good idea.Strategically created PPC campaigns can drive leads, sales or sign-ups to your websites. You know what? In fact, businesses earn an average of $8 for every dollar they spend on Google Ads.Optimizing PPC campaigns is not easy, but it’s very powerful if you do it properly. Just like SEO, it is essential to conduct extensive keyword research, optimize ad copy, and design high-converting landing pages.Fortunately, there are a lot of effective PPC tools that will help you analyze your competitors’ PPC strategies, figure out tricks in their campaigns, and improve your PPC campaigns.If you are ready to take an evolutionary leap in your PPC advertising, take a look at my list of five amazing tools to save you time, give you crucial insights, and raise money for your business.Fiv…