EU approves ‘together we can’ ad JV by operators

EU approves ‘together we can’ ad JV by operators

Vodafone Together we can.jpg

Four European telcos are to form a joint venture to build their own digital marketing technology platform.

The European Commission has approved the proposal, by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone, only a month after the four put the idea forward.

It could “benefit consumers, advertisers and publishers alike”, said the companies in a joint statement.

The platform – not so far named – has been designed to comply with EU data protection policies, including GDPR and the e-privacy directive. “It is intended to make it available to any operator within Europe,” they added.

Details published in January said that use of the service will be “subject to explicit user consent … (on an opt-in basis only)”. The JV will “generate a secure, pseudonymized token derived from a hashed/encrypted pseudonymous internal identity linked to a user’s network subscription which will be provided by participating network operators”.

The four said in a statement: “The creation of this new entity has been approved today by the European Commission, pursuant to the European Union Merger Regulation.”

The four companies will take equal 25% stakes in a newly-formed joint venture holding company, to be based in Belgium and run by independent management under the oversight of a shareholder-appointed supervisory board.

They said the joint venture is “the outcome of a project launched by Vodafone and run by the four operators to develop a technological solution for digital advertising in Europe”.

The partners said the have already initiated a trial in Germany, and other trials are being considered in France and Spain to develop the platform.

They noted that the trial platform “requires affirmative opt-in consent by the consumer to activate communications from brands via publishers”, and they claimed: “The only data that is shared is a pseudo-anonymous digital token that cannot be reverse-engineered. Consumers are free to opt in or deny consent with a single click, as well as revoke any other consents given either on the brand’s or publisher’s website, or via a dedicated, easily accessible privacy portal.”

Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone tried out the platform in Germany last year, together with online publishers and advertisers.

“This enabled the four operators to evaluate the platform’s ease-of-use in providing consumers with greater control and transparency over how brands communicate with them,” they said.

“Furthermore, the initiative has examined how consumers’ personal data is used and their privacy protected in the online advertising ecosystem, while upholding the principles of a free internet.”

At mobile marketing company Upstream, deputy CEO Kostas Kastanis said the ruling is good news “for all mobile operators”.

He said: “By allowing the joint venture to progress, privacy conscious Europe is showing the way for a new era in digital advertising.”

Kastanis said he would “not be surprised” to see the idea spread to Latin America, Africa and Asia “exploring partnerships that will allow them to get into the digital advertising industry via user identification”.

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