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TRUSTe Mobile Ad Tool Aims to Plug Privacy Holes

  |  April 3, 2012   |  Comments

System lets them consumers set mobile tracking preferences.

TRUSTe introduced a unified privacy management offering for mobile ads it said would let businesses engage in behavioral targeting while giving consumers transparency, choice and control over the collection and use of their personal data.

TRUSTed Mobile Ads will provide disclosure to consumers about the collection of their personal data from mobile websites and applications and let them set their own do-not-track or opt-out preferences.

"Now consumers have a way to opt out and a system to govern the behavior of activities. And it's also a more privacy-friendly way to do these activities," said Kevin Trilli, VP of product for TRUSTe.

The first time a consumer accesses a mobile ad or an app, it will refer to TRUSTe to determine the consumer's privacy preferences. If none have been set up, the consumer will see an interface with information about what data would be collected and an invitation to opt out.

The beta offering went live today with a First Adopters program including Electronic Arts, HasOffers, Human Demand, InMobi, JiWire, Medialets, and Nexage. The beta, free to First Adopters, will continue for approximately three months. The actual service will be offered for a small CPM, probably less than a penny, Trilli said.

Consumer privacy preferences are collected by the TRUSTe Preference Manager from within the application, and passed to the ad network so they can be honored in subsequent ad delivery calls.

The offering comes amid growing regulatory pressure. In March, the Federal Trade Commission asked mobile services companies to develop "improved privacy protections, including the development of short, meaningful disclosures" in advance of a May 30 workshop on mobile privacy.

There’s also a do-not-track bill pending in congress with implications for mobile marketers.

The product includes a Mobile App Privacy development kit for iOS and Android devices. The company also provides a backend system that acts like a Do Not Call database, registering consumer preferences with a device identifier.

"The primary mechanism for behavioral targeting on the mobile device is in the form of device identifiers," Trilli said. "A lot of people are not doing behavioral targeting to mobile devices because of privacy concerns. People are nervous about it."

To identify mobile devices, the system uses a Trusted Preference Identifier, a universal device identification mechanism the company believes is a more privacy-friendly alternative to device fingerprints or Apple's unique device identifiers. "The TPID is a disposable, deletable identifier,” said Trilli.

Besides, Apple has reportedly begun rejecting apps that access unique identifiers.

TRUSTed Mobile Ads aligns with the Digital Advertising Alliance AdChoices principles for web ads, and meets global privacy requirements, including standards in Europe and Asia, the company said.

TRUSTe is working on a downloadable app, expected to be available next quarter, that will make it easier for consumers to manage their preferences across the entire mobile ecosystem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

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