6 Ways to Personalize Mobile Ads Without Violating User Privacy

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MobileGlobal mobile ad spending increased to $17.96 billion last year, and it’s on pace to rise another 75.1% in 2014. But in order for mobile advertising to continue growing at such a rapid rate, one issue has to be addressed — privacy.

Personalized mobile ads increase relevance and conversions, however they sometimes have the tendency to creep out consumers who didn’t know their behaviors and locations were being tracked. As a result, many vendors are trying to determine where the privacy boundaries are and how they can collect the information they need to make ads relevant without stepping over those boundaries and making consumers uncomfortable.

Here are six strategies for personalizing mobile ads without violating user privacy.

1. Deliver through location segmentation targeting. “Improving relevance without seeming too invasive to the consumer is key for brand success. By looking at location segmentation, brands can discover and communicate messages relevant to consumers based on a specific time and place. Look to balance privacy issues by capturing and analyzing behavioral, but then deliver through location segmentation targeting. This will keep the creep factor at a minimum. The goal of any mobile campaign should focus on being compelling, not creepy.” (Ryan Golden, Moasis)

2. Require an opt-in for anonymous data collection. “Most digital advertising companies are targeting in a completely anonymous way. That means that the data used—search history, location, app installs—can never be traced back to you as an individual, and your privacy is never violated. At Airpush we have even gone as far as requiring an opt-in for anonymous data collection, as well as several easy ways to opt-out.” (Cameron Peebles, Airpush)

3. Look to the OBA and DAA guidelines. “xAd is able to serve targeted ads to consumers based on past interests while still protecting privacy, as we abide by the guidelines and principals established by the OBA and DAA. For instance, we only work with those publishers who have received express consent from their users to not only access, but also pass consumers’ location data to third parties like us.” (Monica Ho, xAd)

4. Control the context of delivery. “Privacy is respected by adhering to industry standards, but avoiding ‘creepy’ is controlled by creative and context of delivery. For example, YP has run conquesting campaigns for national brands with our mobile user profiles based on location history. Competitors’ customers were given mobile coupons with hyper-personal deals based on specific past behavior. The context of delivery was within the natural shopping journey, such as at home or work, not simply while the consumer was standing in a competitor’s store where receiving an ad may feel questionable. Engagement rates were extremely high—nearly 20% of clicks saved the coupon for later use.” (Heather Sears, YP)

5. Allow users to opt-out. “We provide any user who has been targeted via our platform using their behavioral or personal preferences data the ability to opt-out of ads like this through the use of the Ad Choice icon on the ad itself, plus a clear opt out process as indicated on our website. Privacy controls are also getting better within the devices themselves. For instance, in iOS the ability to turn on and off location services is only a two tap process.” (Monica Ho, xAd)

6. Give consumers what they want. “Advanced targeting works well because its what consumers actually want. Effective targeting stops advertising from being a nuisance and transforms it into relevant offers that people actually appreciate. Consumers have demonstrated their demand for valuable and timely offers with their response to this strategy, but also by flocking to deal-of-the-day services such as LivingSocial and Groupon. Targeted advertising is simply a way to extend offers outside of this single business model and opt-in protections mean that consumers can have the same level of control as these sites offer.” (Cameron Peebles, Airpush)

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.