T-Mobile is now selling data on which apps you open

T-Mobile is now selling data on which apps you open

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T-Mobile is ramping 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 buy user data directly from T-Mobile, with a particular emphasis on data showing which apps you have on your phone and which apps you regularly use.

Thanks to Apple’s strict privacy requirements, however, iPhone users are (mostly) protected from 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 Exchanger after an interview with Jess Zhu, the carrier’s head of advertising products and 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 engagement patterns.”

This consists of data such as when users open an open, the WiFi networks they join, and what domains they visit in a web browser. The data is then aggregated and combined with other analytics to create “personas,” alternatively known as cohorts. Advertisers can then purchase this information and use it to target people with ads.

But when speaking to Ad Exchanger, Zhu was quick to point out that T-Mobile draws the line at collecting any sort of user data from iOS customers. Apple has strict privacy guidelines, and even though T-Mobile could technically collect data from users who opt-in to tracking, it doesn’t view that as being worth the risk right now (via The Verge).

Zhu explained that while T-Mobile is missing out on advertising revenue by not tracking iOS users, one consideration was that the data would be be lower fidelity than what’s collected from Android devices due to Apple’s strict guidelines.

Mike Peralta, GM of T-Mobile’s new “Advertising Solutions” group, did note that the carrier is “kicking the tires” on incorporating iOS data into the App Insights program. For now, however, the focus is on the data collected from Android devices, and using that data to make inferences on iOS users.

For now, however, the primary iOS use case is studying how Apple device owners compare with Android device owners who have the same app-install and engagement profiles, Zhu said. Apple customers generally have higher purchase power, she said, “but their behaviors and interests may not be actually significantly 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 changes in the future, it at least seems like Apple technologies like App Tracking Transparency will make it a lot harder for T-Mobile to get any 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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