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The Privacy Advisor | Behind the Scenes With the New DAA AppChoices Program Related reading: DAA Unveils Mobile Privacy App

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On Wednesday, the Digital Advertising Alliance announced an extension of its AdChoices program beyond the desktop. AppChoices, an app consumers can download (with an attendant web page), allows consumers to manage ad preferences one step further, offering the ability to opt out of targeted ads served through apps on mobile devices.

For example, consumers can choose not to allow advertisers to target them based on their location.

Now, why would a company like xAd, whose very business model involves targeting consumers by location, want to participate in such a program?

“We’re very supportive of it because anything that the industry is doing to educate consumers that they really do have control and transparency to know who can and cannot use their data is a good thing,” said Monica Ho, SVP of marketing at xAd, one of 18 ad tech companies participating in the program. “As they’re deciding when they do and don’t want ads, we want them to know there are multiple tools at their disposal for that.”

As xAd offers ad agencies, direct marketers and programmatic ad buyers the opportunity to leverage location data in their advertising and marketing, they and their customers walk right up to the creepy line on a regular basis. “When people start opting out of ads, it’s because something went wrong,” Ho said. “It’s because either the ads were annoying or it was done in a way where there was no value exchanged with the consumer … If the ads themselves are helpful and they’re not creeping you out and you’re getting an offer you can leverage, or a sale you can take advantage of, then you’re not going to opt out.”

“When people start to opt out,” Ho continued, “there was no value exchange there. No one is going to say they like ads, but if you ask them, ‘Would you leverage a coupon to your favorite store if I handed it to you?,’ they’d say yes … If you’re offering value, you won’t see opt outs happening.”

However, that doesn’t mean xAd isn’t ready for the opt-out process. When someone uses the AppChoices app to opt-out of targeted ads, their ID (an IDFA for Apple, Android Ad ID for Android, etc.) gets transmitted to xAd, which then removes that ID from its database of IDs that can be served targeted ads. That ID can still be served ads, just not ads that are location-specific.

As an extra step, xAd has hired TRUSTe to certify that it’s complying with the DAA opt-out mechanism and with the rest of xAd's privacy notice.

“The DAA guidance is self-regulatory,” Ho said, which can seem not quite rigorous enough for some partners. “We work with a lot of national brands and having a third party validate that we’re in compliance makes them feel comfortable.”

Certain major brands, she noted, have xAd meet with their privacy counsels and CPOs and really want to walk through the entire process of the ad serving and opt-out process. For that reason, “we’re doing not only what the industry says is safe,” Ho said. “We’re going the extra step. We want them to feel comfortable we’re protecting their brand and this doesn’t come back on them.”

“Privacy is a cornerstone to what we do,” Ho emphasized. “Because we’re leveraging location data, we need to ensure that we’re protecting consumer privacy and doing things in a privacy-safe manner.”

However, “I think you would be surprised at how many companies are in this space that are saying they’re leveraging location, but haven’t paid attention to privacy as much as they should have,” Ho said. “If you go to the DAA site and look at their partners, you’ll notice there aren’t many location companies on the list. And I think that’s really odd.”

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