Facebook Drops Two Mobile Ad Partners For Keeping Data Too Long

fb-partner-mobile-measurementFacebook has cut two partners from its mobile ad measurement program for failing to honor its policies around data retention and disclosure, AdExchanger has learned.

The companies, HasOffers and Kontagent, violated their agreements with Facebook, including holding onto data longer than their contracts allowed and failing to require their advertisers  — app developers — to notify users of data collection through updates to their privacy policies. As a result, the partners will no longer be allowed to provide Facebook measurement or onboard new advertisers, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Remaining in the program are approximately 11 mobile marketing partners (MMPs), including Apsalar, Trademob and Localytics (See the full list). These companies support the all-important function of attributing app installs and app-based revenue back to Facebook ads.

The issues came up in a routine privacy audit of the MMPs, conducted by an outside auditor contracted by Facebook. The auditor conducted an on-site review of each Facebook MMP to make sure they were honoring its contracts.

“After working with a third-party auditor to review the practices of all our mobile measurement partners, we discovered that some weren’t adhering to the terms they agreed to,” Facebook said in a statement. “As a result, we’ve removed a couple of our partners from the program. We take our contracts seriously, and will continue to act swiftly anytime we find out they are being violated.”

The dismissal of HasOffers and Kontagent is an indicator of how seriously Facebook is treating its mobile advertising channel. In Q4 its mobile ad revenue surpassed desktop for the first time, reaching $1.2 billion globally. Additionally Facebook has launched a new test of a mobile ad network, working with a small set of app developers to extend the reach of ad buys leveraging its audience data.

The data collected and retained by Facebook’s MMPs includes downstream conversions, lifetime value and ad ROI, all pegged to anonymous user IDs. One possible concern from Facebook’s point of view is that anonymous user data gathered from Facebook campaigns could be cross-referenced with a device identifier such as Apple’s Identifier For Advertising (IDFA) to create a side data business. The data retention limits are intended in part to mitigate that risk.

Probably the larger motive is to show the world — regulators, advertisers, and partners — that Facebook has meticulous privacy controls in place and will be constantly monitoring for violations and take actions when it finds them.

To that end, it’s worth noting no data leaks or privacy breaches were discovered by Facebook or its auditor.

Neither HasOffers nor Kontagent were available to comment.

The story previously stated incorrectly that MMPs can track impressions.  

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