Verizon changes privacy policy to build targeted ad program

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Verizon Communications changed its privacy policy in order to build a program that uses consumer data to place targeted advertisements online, said Bill Kula, director of media relations at Verizon.

The program, which will launch later this year, will provide advertisers with consumer records of aggregated website visits, cell phone usage locations, demographics information and interests, Kula said.

Verizon sent Direct Marketing News an email notice that consumers received on Sept. 26 explaining the program. In the message, Verizon said the system uses consumer addresses to determine whether a consumer resides in a local area an advertiser is trying to reach. 

Kula said the program will not provide advertisers with specific information about individuals or their residences. The notification message contained a link enabling consumers to opt out of the program.

“We anticipate there will only be a small number of customers who choose to opt out,” said Kula. “The benefits of receiving significantly more local and relevant advertising is of great value to consumers.”

“The key piece is assuring customers that we have a strong privacy policy that prohibits the sharing of personally identifiable information,” he added.

Kula said Verizon has yet to notify all Verizon Wireless and Broadband customers. He said Verizon will have contacted all of its customers "within the next several weeks." He would not be more specific.

It is unclear whether Verizon is currently partnering with brands on the program. Kula said Verizon is “working with a number of entities who will help us with the advertising initiative,” but he would not be more specific.

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