T-Mobile now sells data on apps you open

T-Mobile is stepping up its efforts to cash in on the lucrative advertising business. The carrier has officially launched its new “App Insights” program after more than a year in beta. App Insights allows marketers to purchase user data directly from T-Mobile, with a particular focus on data showing which apps you have on your phone and which apps you use regularly.

However, thanks to Apple’s strict privacy requirements, iPhone users are (for the most part) protected against this…

T-Mobile’s Creepy New App Insights Program

News of the official launch of T-Mobile’s App Insights program was first reported by ad exchange after an interview with Jess Zhu, Head of Advertising Products and Carrier Development. Essentially, App Insights is a new app-based analytics platform that “allows marketers to track, segment, and target T-Mobile wireless subscribers based on the apps they have installed on their phone and their patterns of engagement”.

This is data such as when users open a login, which Wi-Fi networks they join, and which domains they visit in a web browser. The data is then aggregated and combined with other analyzes to create ‘personalities’, also known as cohorts. Advertisers can then buy this information and use it to target people with ads.

But when we talk to ad exchangeZhu was quick to point out that T-Mobile draws the line in collecting all kinds of user data from iOS customers. Apple has strict privacy guidelines, and while T-Mobile could technically collect data from users who opt-in to tracking, it doesn’t consider it worth the risk at this time (via The edge).

Zhu explained that while T-Mobile misses ad revenue by not tracking iOS users, one consideration was that the data would be less faithful than that collected from Android devices due to Apple’s strict guidelines.

Mike Peralta, general manager of T-Mobile’s new “Advertising Solutions” group, noted that the carrier was “starting the tires” by incorporating iOS data into the App Insights program. For now, however, the focus is on data collected from Android devices and using that data to make inferences about iOS users.

For now, however, the main use case for iOS is to study how owners of Apple devices compare to owners of Android devices who have the same app install and engagement profiles, Zhu said. Apple customers generally have higher purchasing power, she said, “but their behaviors and interests may not actually be that different from their Android peers.”

So iPhone users are safe (for now) from T-Mobile’s creepy new App Insights program. While it seems entirely possible that this will change in the future, at least it looks like Apple technologies like App Tracking Transparency will make it much harder for T-Mobile to get meaningful data.

Android users can download T-Mobile’s “Magenta Marketing Platform Choices” app from the Play Store to opt out of the new App Insights program.

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