Mobile companies to sell customer browsing data??
Mobile phone networks in the UK will announce at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that they are to sell data on their customers’ internet activity to advertisers.
The data, collected over the last year, will be used to try and attract more business from potential mobile phone advertisers and match the level of activity in internet advertising.
Mobile industry body the GSM Association (GSMA) is concerned that the economic downturn will stifle the nascent mobile advertising industry at birth, with even the more-established internet model currently seeing a reduction in income. The GSMA says the new data (to be on offer to third parties later this year) will enable adverts to be targeted more accurately, although it is bound to run into trouble with privacy advocates.
The data on offer will include the most browsed websites, the time that sites are being viewed, the number of visits, the duration of visits and demographic data including age ranges and the male/female split.
BT has been criticised for running a permission-based service that uses technology from Phorm that enables it to monitor customers’ internet activity
The GSMA said it has been told by European regulators that its service complies with EU laws. It added that any advertising activity connected to personal information would be done on an opt-in basis.
The association’s trial involved the UK’s five mobile networks – 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone – and used deep packet inspection technology to collect data covering about half the country’s entire mobile web traffic.
The trial results, released today, found that 68% of mobile phone users visited their network’s online portal while the most popular “off-portal” website was Google. Facebook was the most popular site for mobile isers with an average of 24 minutes a day spent on it, compared with 27.5 minutes by computer users.