Thursday 8 December 2022
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Senator Schumer Calls for Federal Investigation of Ad Company’s ‘Spying Billboards’

billboardNew York Senator Charles Schumer is calling for a federal investigation into an out-of-home advertising company’s practice of targeting billboard ads to specific consumers.

Schumer is concerned that Clear Channel Outdoor America’s “spying billboards” may be violating privacy rights of passersby by tracking their cell phone data. This RADAR program is a partnership between Clear Channel and other companies that collect location data from smartphone apps.

According to the company’s website, the program “measures consumers’ real-world travel patterns and behaviors as they move through their day, analyzing data on direction of travel, billboard view-ability, and visits to specific destinations.” That information is then used so that advertisers can buy ads in locations that would “reach specific behavioral audience segments.”

“A person’s cell phone should not become a James Bond-like personal tracking device for a corporation to gather information about consumers without their consent,” Schumer stated.

The company argues that the senator’s depiction of the program is inaccurate, insisting that it only uses anonymous data collected from companies that follow strict consumer protection standards.

Yet Senator Schumer still feels that “an investigation into the company is necessary because most people don’t realize their location data is being mined, even if they agree to it at some point by accepting the terms of service of an app that later sells their location information.”

When it comes to billboards, trade show booths, and other out-of-home marketing strategies, the overall rule of thumb is for the display to be 40% empty space because what your message does not say is just as important as what it does say. By that logic, is what we know about an ad just as important as what an ad knows about us?