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Starting this week, Verizon will be rolling out a targeted advertising system it is calling "Verizon Selects." The basic idea is that customers can opt-in (thankfully) to a system that lets Verizon collect and use "location, web browsing and mobile application usage data, as well as other information including customer demographic and interest data" to help target advertisements to you from their partners. The offers can come by way of text message, email or other mobile advertising.

This is the holy grail of advertising for carriers. Being able to offer companies such granular location and usage information means it can charge extra for those advertising placements. It's best handled in this way -- with an opt-in system -- but is a hard pill to swallow when you're already paying so much for your service every month. Those deals better be pretty darn good to be worth giving up so much personal information.

Source: Verizon News Center

 

Reader comments

'Verizon Selects' targeted advertising starting this week

28 Comments

I'll do it if it really meant I could get an upgrade every year or something like that. I'm a sucker for stuff like that smh...

Yup and they are counting on suckers thinking that this is all to provide you with easy upgrades or deals etc.

What is privacy meant to you? Not only will they have your location down to 5 meters anywhere in the US, but what apps you use, how often, what sites you browse etc.

Not to mention your age, preferences, gender.

Americans are so aloof when it comes to data mining and privacy. It comes back to short-term gain, long term consequences. What if the companies that are in business now, go out of business and sell their data to the highest bidder? What if it's come company in China?

Think of it this way, soon, your name, gender, age, and address will be known. With things like google street view, anyone who wanted could know everything about you. Now you may be thinking I'm taking it too far, but I was a mod on a forum back in the early 2000's. You wouldn't believe the information you could collect about someone from simple registration even. I shudder to think what they could collect by allowing people to know what you do on your cellphone, how and when.

I feel that we are already there. Privacy doesn't mean jack nowadays. Opt-in and Opt-out are about the same when you factor in all the other ways companies datamine you today. It's a Big Brother type of world.

Really? Because I haven't seen any notifications or text messages pop up on my phone just because i happened to walk past a store.

You did read the article to see what is being proposed didn't you? Mining your data doesn't do them a bit of good if you don't opt-in. They can't call you, or text you, or send you spam email unless you opt in. Worst that I've seen is Google ads seem to be relevant to things I was actually seeking on line.

That's a far cry from a text message inviting me in to look at bath towels just because I walked past Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Be careful what you dismiss so cavalierly.

Sprint's doing the same thing, I received an email from sprint explaining the whole thing, how you're info won't contain any information that'll personally describe you & even had examples to make sure I understood 100% what I'd be signing up for... I thought I was going to see something towards the end like "plus you'll get 25% discount every month" we know they'll make a decent amount of money off this so they should throw us a bone... Early upgrades, certain Percentage taken off the bill, even 3 free apps a month. Something...

Now we wait to see how it's implemented. If it is on by default and they never mention how to opt out (to those not knowing) than it's shady. Otherwise, you decide your own fate with this one.

First thing I thought was knowing Verizon you can opt out rather than opt in. I guess we'll know if we start getting text messages from Best Buy.

So what party of this benefits the user? A lower bill each month? Early upgrades, as kpageisgreat fantasized? (That would be quite nice, by the way.) I feel like few people will opt in if they don't see any benefit for themselves.

It was just a random thought I had. I would seriously consider that and I know others will but in reality, opting in for something like this looks like there is no perceived value.

You don't realize how gullible some people are... How many of us skip past EULA's and other forms just clicking "I agree" without thinking what it is?

There is a reason spyware, data mining, etc. have turned into multi-billion dollar industry's.

Corporations would die to get this type of data and information about consumers.

Think about it. Verizon is the largest carrier in the US.

Your information could be used in any way by any partner of Verizon. Let's say they sell it to an ad agency that wants to know what sites women between ages of 18-23 browse on.

The type of information, they find out that Jenny Plimpton of 123 Android Way, is 19 years old. She frequently visits TMZ, Jezebel, searches on google frequently about boyfriend problems, she recently read the book 50 shades of gray etc. She spent 5 hours on a saturday night playing Scramble etc.

That's just a fraction of the information possible. Think about how they could use that for marketing, sending you texts etc. Do you want that type of information out there?

I wonder how much Verizon plans to discount monthly bills for those that choose to participate. As for concerns about tracking, if you install the Ghostery extension into your browser you'll see the page with this story has 14 different tracking/cookie mechanisms. Seems oddly appropriate a site with a story about tracking has 14 trackers on the story page.

This is yet another crappy Verizon service. It will suffer the same fate as Verizon Video.

Just another way for VZW to run up our text and data usage. If you have 2 gigs better up it if you opt in.

Verizon user's are one step closer to having to watch some stupid advertisement before we can make a phone call. Or having advertisements on our homescreens.

Who wants to bet that the opt in is only for the initial rollout, then in a few months they will change it to you have to opt out, but of course they will "forget" to notify customers of the change.

You'd have to be an idiot to sign up for something like this. No amount of privacy violation is worth $50 off on a new subsidized phone or whatever the hook ends up being.

I have no interest in this Verizon "service". Verizon's attempt to screw up the Nexus program, in updates and Google Wallet, causes me to almost reflexively avoid any program they've created. At the same time, I think this the concern about privacy is a bit overblown.

Sprint is doing the same thing. This month's bill brought an insert with the headings: New Sprint Programs and Your Privacy Choices/ Mobile Advertising Program/ Reporting & Analytics Program/ Your Choices. This begins December 1, and my choices are as follows:
"We are now offering you the opportunity to receive relevant mobile advertising when you use your mobile device to access applications or go online. If you OPT IN to this program, we may deliver ads that are more tailored and of greater interest and value to you. ... If you do not OPT IN, you will still receive some general advertising. ..."

In other words, targeted junk or random junk. What a choice. Counting the months til I can get out of my Sprint contract.

I would advise Sprint users to check this out online at http://www.sprint.com/mychoices

The default setting is, "OK to use my info to create reports to share with other companies (includes location info)."

"In other words, targeted junk or random junk. What a choice. Counting the months til I can get out of my Sprint contract."

You maybe already have an out. If they spring this kind of privacy invasion on you, it violates the contract you signed and probably their own prior privacy policy. You should be able to go in and tell them that, and get out of your contract.

Privacy statements, policy, et al. are not part of the contract. The only thing that would allow someone to skip the ETF is a change in MRC.

so , we are going to get hit with adds. What I want to know is do we get hit either way, but if we opt in we just get better adds directed to our demographics?

It's opt-OUT, not opt-in. I just logged in to http://www.verizonwireless.com/myprivacy/ and found that Verizon Selects was NOT blocked (i.e., already turned on) for all phones on our plan. I immediately blocked it, and received an on-screen notification that it might take as much as 5 days for my choice to ripple through their system.