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T-Mobile begins selling Android users' web and app data to advertisers

T-Mobile is going to sell app usage and web activity data of customers to third-party marketers, according to AdExchanger.

Last year, it was reported that T-Mobile would automatically enroll its subscribers in an advertising program based on online activity. The program, called App Insights, was in beta for the last 12 months. It will let clients 'leverage app insights,' which T-Mobile says is the 'strongest indicator of consumer intent.'

The App Insights analytics platform will let businesses segment and target T-Mobile's subscribers according to the apps they have installed on their smartphones and interaction patterns such as how often people launch an app, which WiFi networks they connect to, and which websites they visit in a web browser.

Web apps can be more useful than mobile apps because they allow carriers to see whether someone is jumping from one website to another. T-Mobile is only going to use web-tracking data to create cohorts and this information will not be available to marketers.

T-Mobile had earlier said it would mask users’ identities and the data will be tagged with an encoded user or device ID to protect anonymity.

The data will be aggregated and the information will be used for analytics and "personas" will be created to group people with shared characteristics together.

For instance, people who have human resources management app ADP, travel and expense management app Concur, and travel app Expedia installed on their phones can be grouped together as business travelers. Advertisers can use this data to serve relevant ads.

Wavemaker, which was a beta partner for T-Mobile’s App Insights, used the product to enhance its understanding of competitive differentiators for app-based businesses.

As an example, DoorDash, which is a client of Wavemaker, could use App Insights to find out which of its customers have also installed its competitors' apps and find out which app is used most often.

McDonald's was also a beta partner and it used the platform to analyze app install campaigns based on whether people uninstalled its app after ordering a discounted meal.

Although T-Mobile will not target its customers using location data, marketing agencies are free to work with another adtech vendor to get this information themselves.

App Insights will not include data on Apple iPhone users, presumably because T-Mobile doesn't want to ruffle Apple's feathers. Apple's App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework has made tracking its users harder anyway.

So, at the moment, T-Mobile's clients can only segment and target Android users. Sprint customers will also be affected as the carriers were merged in 2020. Children's line and business accounts won't be impacted. As The Verge notes, this is an opt-out program. You can download the un-carrier's Magenta Marketing Platform Choices app that lets you see which companies have access to your information and opt out of this kind of sharing. You may also use an app called App Choices.

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