Targeted advertising certainly isn't new, but Bell is taking it to a level that's making some Canadians uncomfortable. Starting November 16th, the telecom will track the habits of its customers for both network optimization and "more relevant" ads, including their app usage, calling patterns, web visits and TV channel picks. It will also start aggregating subscriber data such as age and device choice. Bell is quick to note that it's collecting anonymous data, and claims that subscribers aren't required to participate. However, the company is using an opt-out system -- it will track customers by default unless they know how to change their settings. The issue has garnered enough attention that Canada's Privacy Commissioner has promised an investigation, which suggests that Bell shouldn't count on implementing its policy without answering some tough questions.
Bell to deliver online advertising relevant to customers while protecting their data
* Initiative ensures mobile customers will see advertising that matters to them
* No Bell customer is required to participate
MONTREAL, Oct. 23, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Bell today confirmed that its relevant advertising program, set to launch November 16, is designed to protect the data of individual mobile customers while delivering them the online advertising that's most relevant to them. No Bell customer is required to participate in the program, and opting out is easy with a visit to Bell.ca/relevantads.
"Consumers who use mobile Internet services see a lot of advertising, and we want to ensure that Bell customers see the kind of advertising that actually matters to them. It won't mean you'll see more ads, but you'll see better ones," said Wade Oosterman, President of Bell Mobility and Residential Services. "Bell is absolutely committed to our customers' privacy and we strictly adhered to Canadian privacy laws in developing our initiative. Bell would never identify individual users or release customer-specific data to advertisers or any other third party."
Bell collects data such as Web sites visited, apps downloaded and search terms, and aggregates the data into broad user group profiles to deliver to customers ads that are most relevant to them. The company has informed customers about the program over the last several months through invoice messages, texts and emails.
Data collected for the program is audience-based rather than specific to individual customers, allowing the development of targeted advertising for groups of similar users, rather than the random ads people would normally see online. For instance, a report that shows 10,000 Bell mobile customers downloaded a particular gaming app, and that 80% of them were 18-25 years old, would allow advertisers to build a marketing program to serve that broad group. Individual customer information is never released.
"This new program puts Bell in a position to compete with world players like Google, Facebook and others in focused online information delivery," said Mr. Oosterman. "Offered first to our mobile customers, Bell looks forward to expanding the program to customers of Bell Internet and other services as we continue to seek new ways to improve the online experience for our customers."