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What Germany’s Tight-Laced Privacy Mandate Means For Ad Tech Players

hamburgGermany is leading the attack in the EU’s deepening privacy war against Google.

Late last Tuesday, a legal ruling levied by Hamburg data protection commissioner Johannes Caspar required that Google obtain Germans’ expressed permission in order to access their data, or face $1.27 million in fines.

“Our requirements aim at a fair balance between the concerns of the company and its users,” Caspar said in a statement. “The issue is up to Google now. The company must treat the data of its millions of users in a way that respects their privacy adequately while they use the various services of the company.”

This ruling furthers a trajectory that could harm the overseas advertising business of Google and all ad tech companies. Other points of concern for the international ad tech industry include a 2013 mandate, also spearheaded by Casper, preventing Google from collecting personal data from unencrypted German Wi-Fi networks on the grounds that data was collected without consent and could be used to construct advertising profiles.

And, most notably, Google came under scrutiny during the EU’s "Right to be Forgotten" ruling in May.

Others have felt the reverberations. Rumor has it that German software corporation SAP stalled its acquisition hunt to bolster its presence in ad tech because of the Right to be Forgotten ruling.

But businesses aren’t yet shying away from Germany, which is considered to be one of Europe’s most robust markets for ad tech. Those that are tempted enough to take the plunge, however, are taking a cautious yet calculated approach to their strategy there.


Can You Identify Me Now? A Deep Dive On Verizon’s Data Practices

VerizonVerizon bills itself as a triple threat. It’s got mobile, it’s got television, it’s got broadband.

And those three channels form the foundation for a deterministic data cocktail that Precision Market Insights (PMI) – Verizon’s addressable advertising division – is tapping to power Precision ID, the carrier’s answer to the ever-elusive mobile cookie.

When Verizon Wireless first rolled out Precision Market Insights back in 2012, it was to meet market demand, the group’s VP, Colson Hillier, told AdExchanger.

“People have been asking us for a long time why we weren’t doing something more in advertising because of all of our consumer relationships and touchpoints, but that hasn’t been a core business for us until this point,” said Hillier, noting Verizon’s unique positioning as “one of the world’s largest advertisers.”

But now that Verizon has started to focus on the identity question, it’s come out with guns blazing – and they’re pointed directly at mobile.

“Mobile is now the centerpiece of our customers’ lives and it’s got a lot of promise as an ad platform, but today it’s also fraught with a lot of problems,” Hillier said. “Things that have been solved in other channels don’t work well in mobile.”

Cookies top the list. While Facebook is starting to tackle identity with the relaunch of its Atlas ad server, Verizon is taking on the cookie question with a five-pronged approach: deterministic identification, measurement, cross-device targeting, more mobile inventory and privacy-compliant actionable insight.

It’s a work in progress.


Audience Partners To Buy Bering Media And Go Beyond The Cookie

helmreich apAudience Partners, which provides an advertising platform focusing on advocacy, political and healthcare verticals, reached an agreement Wednesday to acquire Bering Media for an undisclosed sum. Audience Partners expects the deal to close in October.

For Audience Partners, Bering Media – with whom it has partnered over the past two years – provides an ad-targeting solution that doesn’t require cookies.

While Audience Partners, like Bering Media, has the ability to match, sync and distribute data for its clients, it typically relied on cookies to do this. Bering Media gives the company a new methodology.

“We now have a deterministic, cookieless methodology to deploy data into mobile, video, addressable TV, display and other areas not constrained by the cookie,” said Audience Partners CEO Dave Helmreich. “Bering Media has a solution that uses double-blind, privacy-enabling, first-party attributes to be attached to IP addresses that are provisioned by [the carriers].”

Experian Builds A New Link In Data Chain

rick erwin experianExperian Marketing Services introduced a persistent identification service into its Marketing Suite product line on Wednesday. The OmniView service is designed to combine marketer-owned login identities into a single, core identifier.

It combines the company’s various linkage solutions (i.e., connecting email addresses with in-store shoppers) and also includes data cleansing and the ability to strengthen first-party data with Experian’s data sets.

But OmniView is also different from what Experian used to provide because it incorporates the ability to link digital media identifiers, said Rick Erwin, president of the company’s consumer insights and targeting division.

“Other linkage capabilities we’ve offered in the past have primarily been built for the single channel of database marketing,” he said. “We had to expand the match logic capability of the service. If this was 10 years ago, we would have been mainly interested in terrestrial address and maybe terrestrial phone number and email.”

Experian isn’t the only purveyor of offline and email data trying to boost its presence in digital channels. Its rival Epsilon bought ad tech company Conversant a little more than a week ago (to be more precise, Epsilon’s parent Alliance Data Services bought it), inheriting Conversant’s persistent identifier Common ID.

Now Experian has released its own identifier with OmniView, a development Erwin said has been a few years in the making.

“[It was] an enormous amount of work,” Erwin said. “This has to work at scale and be extremely accurate. We also had to accommodate for the fact that in digital media, the size of data files is orders of magnitude greater than in an offline marketing world. Those are two aspects that had to be rebuilt from the ground up.”

Apple To Google: We’re Better Than You Because We Actually Care About Privacy

onemorethingWhen it comes to data collection, Apple is on the offensive... and, perhaps, the defensive.

There’s no need to read between the lines of Tim Cook’s attack on the data monetizers of the world. As the Apple CEO stated in an open letter posted on Apple’s website Wednesday night:

“We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t 'monetize' the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you.”

Although Cook’s communique ostensibly addresses consumers – Cook doesn’t actually mention Google, Facebook or any other of its other big rivals – it seems pretty clear who he has in mind.

“On the first level he’s addressing Google and on the second level he’s addressing folks like Facebook and Amazon,” said Rodger Desai, CEO and co-founder of remote processing payment service Payfone.

Cook also categorically states, once and for all, that advertising simply isn’t all that important to Apple, noting in his letter that only “one very small part of our business does serve advertisers, and that’s iAd.”

He went on to say that the only reason Apple even built iAd in the first place was “because some app developers depend on that business model and we want to support them, as well as a free iTunes Radio service.” (In a very Pandora-like move, Apple will reportedly add targeted local ads to iTunes radio.)


What Is Alliance Data Systems? A Backstage Data Puppet Master

AllianceDataData juggernaut Alliance Data Systems (ADS) might keep a relatively low profile, but the multibillion-dollar company has its fingers in quite a few data pies. What it needs now is to connect the dots.

And as ADS’ recently announced $2.3 billion acquisition of ad tech company Conversant (née ValueClick/Dotomi) for subsidiary Epsilon denotes, that’s exactly what it appears to be doing.

“You have these companies, and there are only a few now, that have an incredible amount of consumer data, but what they need to do is put all the pieces in place to be able to package and sell their broader marketing capabilities to that top tier of clients,” Nucleus Research VP Rebecca Wettemann told AdExchanger. “That means having the customer data piece, but it also means having the email marketing piece and the agency services skills that will ultimately complement and pull it all together.”

ADS, which was founded in 1996 in Plano, Texas, has its roots in loyalty services, specifically private label credit cards. In fact, the company, which went public in 2001, came to be as the result of a merger between The Limited’s private label credit card bank and the transaction processing arm of JCPenney. ADS bought Canada-based loyalty programs provider LoyaltyOne a couple of years later in 1998, followed by email, loyalty and marketing services firm Epsilon in 2004.


We Know Where Apple Stands On Health Data. What About Google?

health dataUsing health data for advertising purposes is a hot potato and Apple’s not touching it. The jury’s still out on Google.

Despite the upcoming release of the pulse-reading Apple Watch (available early 2015) and Apple pushing its HealthKit API with developers, advertisers won’t have any access to health data derived from related apps or devices. (Medical research and fitness management are on the table, however, as evidenced by Apple’s recently forged partnership with the Mayo Clinic.)

Google, on the other hand – it’s worth speculating.

Google released the API to Google Fit, its health-tracking platform, at the beginning of August after launching a preview of the SDK back in June at its annual developers conference. Fit gives developers the ability to store and access activity data from fitness apps and sensors on Android phones and related wearable devices.

OK, Google: What’s going to happen with the health data?

Clearly there are major FDA and FTC barriers standing in the way of monetizing health data, but of any player out there, Google would seem to be the most motivated.


What Apple’s Health Data Restrictions Mean For The Ad Industry

forbiddenApple is laying down the law for app developers through a set of new rules, which are slated to take effect in conjunction with its long-awaited iPhone release on Monday.

Apple's alterations restrict developers' access to data from HealthKit, its factory-installed fitness monitoring app, and third-party app extensions. The new stipulations will likely apply to the next-generation iPhone, in addition to the first-generation "iWatch," as the company's anticipated wearable device is being called by observers.

Updates to Apple’s app store guidelines state: “Apps may not use user data gathered from the HealthKit API for advertising or other use-based data mining purposes other than improving health, medical, and fitness management, or for the purpose of medical research.”

Gearing up for next week’s product release, AdExchanger asked executives from Wunderman, Hill Holiday,  ID Health and McCann Health to respond to Apple’s pivot and to posit on the implications for the advertising industry.

Click below to read their responses:


EXelate Steps Into Data-As-A-Service Business As LinkedIn Leaves

MarkZLinkedIn’s discontinuation of Bizo’s business data service is an opportunity for data-management platform (DMP) and data services company eXelate. The company revealed plans Thursday for B2BX, a data-as-a-service offering for B2B advertisers.

The company appointed Frannie Danzinger, Bizo’s former director of marketplace development, to spearhead the new development as VP of strategic solutions and plans to hire more employees for the division, said company CEO Mark Zagorski.

“DSPs (demand-side platforms) have always been great partners of ours, so we wanted to make sure they had a continuous stream of B2B data flowing to them, considering LinkedIn made the announcement they’ll pull out of the data business shortly,” he explained.

When Linkedin revealed plans to shut down Bizo’s data business, Erik Matlick, CEO of behavioral marketing database and lead-gen company Madison Logic, said DSPs, SSPs and agencies could get the short end of the stick in scaling their business audience reach.

Although LinkedIn could presumably roll Bizo’s data insights into its broader but burgeoning media offering, it could hinder B2B marketers who wanted the flexibility to apply that audience data on external platforms. This factor seemingly inspired eXelate’s move into the space.


All Aboard The LiveRamp Train. Next Stop Ensighten

LiveRampEnsightenNo rest for LiveRamp.

The Acxiom-owned data onboarding company announced a new partnership Thursday with enterprise tag-management provider Ensighten – the third such alliance in just a little over a week.

Prior to the Ensighten deal, LiveRamp joined up with video firm Eyeview and location-focused mobile ad company xAd, both examples, said LiveRamp CEO Auren Hoffman, of his company’s efforts to remain the Switzerland of data.

“The rationale for the acquisition by Acxiom is that LiveRamp would serve everyone equally,” Hoffman said. “The goal is to build the pipes, but then to give everyone access to them.”

Here’s how this partnership works: Ensighten collects first-party data for its clients across channels, and LiveRamp syndicates those segments across roughly 100 exchanges, networks and publishers with the aim of more personalized communications.

Ensighten founder and CEO Josh Manion analogized this partnership to plumbing: If Ensighten controls the plumbing to the people (sites, apps, etc.) inside a particular house, then LiveRamp can connect that house to the city’s water main.