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GroupM Makes Their Advertising Data Confidential

GroupM has added a new clause to their terms and conditions indicating that they own all of the data associated with ads they buy and that data should be treated as confidential.

Traditionally, the standard has been that the advertiser, the media buyer, and the publisher all share a right to the data.  Now GroupM has claimed that they and their advertiser (contrary to PaidContent’s coverage) own the data.  There are some caveats, however, that are elucidated by GroupM’s COO:

“The real issue around that is the old terms and conditions didn’t really accommodate the data question properly, and our clients as you might imagine, have so much data generated from advertising these days, that they wanted to make sure their insights about their advertising is kept confidential. And that the data is used by the publisher only in aggregate, not at a granular level,” Montgomery explained to Online Media Daily.

He says it is not the intention of the new GroupM T&Cs to preclude publishers from utilizing data derived from GroupM’s online media buys in “aggregate,” and that the effectiveness of many of GroupM’s online campaigns depends on publishers doing just that.

“We acknowledge that they have to use the data in aggregate, and in fact, in order for them to optimize and benefit our clients,” he says, conceding, however, that data ownership will likely be the most contentious area of the new T&Cs.

(courtesy of MediaPost)

It is a shame that his comments are not part of the legal agreement because it is really kind of unclear what he means.  I know he doesn’t want me to tell competitors, “This is how this campaign performed.”  When he says, “in the aggregate”, can I tell competitors, “This is how these kinds of campaigns perform”?

Furthermore, how does this relate to blind behavioral data.  If a company was gathering behavioral data and they wanted to say, “This user likes car ads”, is that OK?  Is that aggregate data in that we lump them into an “auto” behavior?  I assume it is.  I assume if I create a “Likes Audi cars” behavior from an Audi campaign and then sell it to Ford for conquesting, that is considered too specific.  This leaves a lot of room, but it would be nice if the acceptability of aggregation is defined better.

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