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Data buyers beware, Google’s crackdown on 2.7 billion ‘bad ads,’ and COVID-19 tracking privacy: Datacenter Weekly

1 May 2020

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Tracking COVID-19 tracking

“A group of key Republican senators announced Thursday they intend to introduce legislation aimed at protecting consumer data privacy during the coronavirus pandemic,” Chris Mills Rodrigo of The Hill reports. “The COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act would require companies to have consumers opt in before having their data used to track the spread of coronavirus and allow them to opt out at any point. The legislation would also direct companies to tell consumers how their data would be used, to whom it might be transferred and for how long it would be held.” Keep reading here.


“Last year, Google says it took down 2.7 billion so-called bad ads for violating the company’s ad policies, according to its annual report released Thursday,” MarketingLand’s Ginny Marvin reports. “That’s up from the 2.3 billion bad ads Google reported taking down in 2018. The number of ad accounts Google terminated remained relatively flat from the previous year at nearly one million.” Keep reading here.

Bad data

In “Buying Consumer Data? Tread Carefully,” a Harvard Business Review article published today, Catherine Tucker and Nico Neumann write that “We recently tested the accuracy of popular audience segments that a range of brokers have on offer.” The results were, let’s just say, not terribly encouraging. The authors—professors at, respectively, the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Melbourne Business School—continue:

We looked at age and gender, as well as customer interests such as sports interested, travel interested, and fitness interested. To check accuracy, we used data from settings where people had revealed this information voluntarily. For example, we compared the segment characteristics with consumer data provided by survey panels, which was also cross-validated with information from Facebook or from a financial institution. Across all our tests, we found that the consumer information sold by data brokers varies greatly in quality. 

But “varies greatly in quality” is putting it mildly. Cases in point:

For example, the average accuracy of gender segments classifying males was only 42.5%—which is lower than the 50% natural chance of identifying men. Data on age was slightly better, but not much—on average, in 77% of cases the age tier was also incorrect. 

Keep reading here.

Combo deal

“AT&T is bringing together WarnerMedia with its advanced advertising unit Xandr,” Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi reports. “The combined team will be led by Chief Revenue Officer Gerhard Zeiler. ... The company says the combination will help speed up advanced advertising and technology solutions and also accelerate new ad formats for HBO Max streaming service in 2021.” Keep reading here.

Just briefly

“ESI: Consumer Confidence Continues To Recover Amid Calls For Reopening,” via Civic Science (ESI stands for Economic Sentiment Index).

“Xiaomi phones send search and browsing data to China, researcher says,” via Abacus.

“Inside Channel 4’s first-party data strategy,” via Digiday.

“The Proximity Problem: Is real time tracking of the coronavirus the best thing for customers?,” via Interbrand.

“FreeWheel expands deal with White Ops as fraudsters turn their attention to CTV, OTT,” per Ad Age.

Coming up

This section of Datacenter Weekly is intended to highlight upcoming data-centric events, but we’ve paused that “community calendar” function as the coronavirus crisis has escalated. For now, we’re directing your attention to Ad Age’s Coronavirus Industry Event Tracker for details on canceled and rescheduled conferences and other get-togethers.

The newsletter is brought to you by Ad Age Datacenter, the industry’s most authoritative source of competitive intel and home to the Ad Age Leading National Advertisers, the Ad Age Agency Report: World’s Biggest Agency Companies and other exclusive data-driven reports. Access or subscribe to Ad Age Datacenter at

Ad Age Datacenter is Kevin Brown, Bradley Johnson and Catherine Wolf.

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This content was originally published by Advertising Age. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Advertising Age

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