When outside, 71% of people look at messages on billboards. And now, these billboards may be looking back.
Clear Channel Outdoor Americas partnered with many large retailers in February in order to track travel patterns and behaviors through people’s cell phones.
The overall goal is to gather information about the people who look at the billboards in order to plan more efficient, specific advertising campaigns. One of Clear Channel’s larger clients is the mobile phone giant ATandT.
This means that the thousands of ATandT users across the nation may be targeted via the billboards they read.
According to Clear Channel, all information collected is anonymous, and it will be impossible to identify individual customers.
However, New York Senator Charles Schumer is not a fan.
Schumer is demanding a federal investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into Clear Channel for lack of privacy and security.
The Democrat and Chronicle reports Schumer’s statement: “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. No one wants to be followed or tracked throughout their day, electronically or otherwise, so these new billboards not only raise eyebrows, but they raise some serious questions about privacy.”
In addition, Schumer wants Clear Channel to make their services optional, offering a way for customers who do not want to be tracked to opt-out of the service.
Clear Channel argues they do not need this procedure, as they do not personally collect information from the consumers. Instead, they use third-party providers to collect location data.
The mass media corporation stands by the fact they are only able to collect statistics on aggregated and anonymized demographic and behavioral information, such as soccer moms bringing their children to school.
As this technology is new to the nation, it will be released later this year. It is still unknown if this will be utilized in Rochester.