Ad Tech Trade Organization To Tackle Issues Of Location Data And Consumer Privacy

Geo-Data specialist PlaceIQ is the first location-centered player admitted into the Network Advertising Initiative. Can the self-regulatory group head off government rules covering the use of geo-targeting and beacons?

PlaceIQ is joining the 100-member Network Advertising Initiative, the ad tech industry’s self-regulatory trade group, as the use smartphone’s location information increasingly powers a greater array of ad targeting.

The NAI, which was initially composed of ad networks when it formed 16 years ago, has been looking more closely at developing a set of standard practices for employing “non-cookie technology.” For the past year, the organization has been working on developing a code of conduct covering the advertising role of mobile-based device IDs with cross-platform analytics providers such as Drawbridge.

Code of Conduct

In general, the codes for device ID involve ensuring that mobile publishers clearly notify visitors of the use of data collection for the purpose of advertising. The NAI also says that publishers must allow consumers an easy way to opt-out of that data collection.

As the first company that has location data as its primary focus, PlaceIQ will have a significant role in helping shape advertising rules for the industry that are, in part, designed to head off government regulation that could require tighter controls over the use of geo-data for advertising.

“PlaceIQ pioneered the way brands could use location to understand consumer behavior more than five-and-a-half years ago,” Duncan McCall, the company’s founder and CEO, told GeoMarketing. “We’ve understood the importance of protecting consumer data and privacy from the beginning, which is why we made anonymous, opted-in data the foundation of our technology.”

“We are excited to welcome PlaceIQ as a new NAI member,” said NAI President and CEO Leigh Freund, in a statement. “PlaceIQ couples a focus on helping brands use location data for marketing insights with a solid privacy-conscious approach. This makes them a natural, but innovative fit for NAI. PlaceIQ’s membership is indicative of the ways NAI’s high standards can be applied to emerging technologies in an evolving landscape.”

What About Beacons?

While there doesn’t appear to be any imminent action on the part of the Federal Trade Commission or Congress, the NAI has learned that it pays to proactive when it comes to emerging advertising technologies.

At least initially, PlaceIQ’s role in any potential NAI rule-making will be to set an example, McCall said.

“We’ve focused on adding value for both advertiser and consumer though the use of this data,” McCall said. “Using this anonymous data, advertisers receive to the ability to better engage with consumers and consumers benefit from relevant content—without giving up privacy. We are gratified that our privacy-first stance has culminated as our selection as the first location technology provider adding to NAI’s membership.”

As an analytics provider focusing on lat/long and signals from GPS, cell phone towers, and other outdoor place-based signifiers that draw geofences to offer insights into specific areas, PlaceIQ is generally not considered to be in the indoor “beacon business.” Nevertheless, McCall said that beacons clearly fit the company’s purview as a location tech provider.

Although they can aid in retargeting programs, beacons by themselves are a one-way communications tool, pushing out notifications to consumers who have downloaded a branded app and expressly opted-in to receive marketing messages. That said, there is a great deal of confusion about beacons’ capabilities.

Will PlaceIQ be weighing in on rules covering the use of beacons in a marketing context?

“PlaceIQ is focused on making sense of location data, to provide brands and agencies with powerful consumer insights,” McCall said. “Indoor technologies are simply another form of location data that can absolutely help extend that understanding. We’ve architected our platform to be able to work with many technologies, including beacons, which provide another dimension of location into how consumers are engaging. We’re excited about new advancements in this area and have even done testing with some providers.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.