Billboards That Track Consumers Raise Privacy Concerns, Sen. Franken Says

Clear Channel's new outdoor advertising initiative -- which involves tracking consumers to figure out whether they visit stores after viewing billboards -- raises privacy concerns, according to Sen. Al Franken.

"When done appropriately, targeted advertising may provide consumer benefits, but we must ensure that Americans' very sensitive information, including their location data, is protected," Franken (D-Minnesota) writes in a letter to Clear Channel Outdoor Americas CEO Scott Wells.

Clear Channel's new program reportedly draws on location and demographic data from three other companies: AT&T, PlaceIQ (which uses location data from apps) and Placed (which pays customers to track them). Clear Channel told The New York Times that the data, which is anonymous and aggregated, doesn't identify individual customers.



"Given the sensitive nature of location data, all parties involved in Clear Channel's Radar service should provide clear and comprehensive privacy policies and should disclose detailed information about their data-sharing relationships with other companies," Franken adds. "Unfortunately, as currently written, Clear Channel's privacy policy, which appears to apply to all of its products and services, leaves consumers largely in the dark."

Franken is asking the company to answer a host of questions, including ones about the anonymization process.

"At what stage are the data aggregated and anonymized?" he asks. "Is the information Clear Channel receives from mobile services already anonymized and aggregated or is Clear Channel responsible for making the data anonymous?"

The lawmaker also is asking Clear Channel to elaborate on its privacy policy, which says it may share customers' personal information with third parties, and with affiliates for "business and operational purposes."

"How does Clear Channel define "business and operational purposes"? Can you provide a list of all outside parties with whom Clear Channel may share personal information collected for the operation of Radar?" he asks.

Franken is requesting answers by March 30.

Clear Channel did not respond to MediaPost's requests for comment.

1 comment about "Billboards That Track Consumers Raise Privacy Concerns, Sen. Franken Says".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, March 7, 2016 at 2 p.m.

    Clear Channel should release a full detailed Technical Appendix to the industry on the entire Radar system including exactly how the "composite aggregated" database is constructed.  It would not only potentially provide advertisers and their agencies the confidence to use the RADAR metrics meaningfully for more effective OOH campaigns but it could/should also address some of Senator Al Franken's warranted privacy concerns.  That CCO did not respond to Media Post's request for a response is worrying from both the advertiser and the consumer's perspectives.  OOH has unique attributes in terms of delivering targeted advertsing exposure versus other media and it is critical that"we" do not muddy the research/metrics waters.  Perhaps RADAR should be submitted for MRC Accreditation although that would not fulfill Senator Franken's timetable.

    For full dislclosure: I was EVP - Global Research at CCO for many years.  My company specializes in media research & metrics globally notably in the OOH/DOOH arena. 

Next story loading loading..