Changes to Twitter's privacy policy will impact advertisers

Twitter has announced that on March 31, 2015, they are changing their privacy policies for conversion tracking and custom audiences.  The changes being made will impact any advertiser who is using either of these two products, so let’s review the specifics around these changes and what advertisers should prepare to do within the next few days.

What is the change Twitter is making to the privacy policy?
The new policy requires advertisers to update their own privacy policy on their website or mobile app to let users know that a third party  (Twitter) will collect user data “for purposes of conversion tracking and serving ads targeted to users’ interests, and legally sufficient instructions for such users on how they can opt-out of interest based advertising.”

There are also a few smaller changes, such as restricting uses of tailored audiences or conversion events which could potentially be using or expose sensitive information or personally identifiable information (PII). It also prohibits use of these tactics on children under 13 (to adhere to COPA rules) and if subject matter, product or service violates Twitter’s ad policies (such as misleading or deceptive ads, or adult products).

Why is Twitter making this change?
As social networks evolve, changes made to advertising options can often result in use, or rather misuse, of products in a way that was not originally intended. Twitter likely noticed there were gaps in the way the privacy policy was originally written which created loopholes that could violate users’ privacy. Therefore, their goal is to protect their users and protect themselves from legal action.

A second reason appears to be how they intend to use the data they’ve been collecting. Twitter now wants to be able to use conversion data and tailored audience data to target users (while not exposing any PII). They believe this will help improve the user experience because it will enable better targeting predictions, provide more look-a-likes for tailored audiences, and help optimize campaigns. The goal to use the data in this way is evident from their opt-out options for advertisers.

The two opt-out options are:

  • Own only: Data will only be used for targeting by the same advertiser from whom the data originated
  • No use: Data may not be used for any targeting purpose beyond Tailored Audiences Web (which is controlled directly by the advertiser via a separate account setting)

What should advertisers do now?
There are 2 different actions you as an advertiser need to plan for regarding the change:

  1. Determine whether your privacy policy already addresses third party data usage? If not, are you able to update your policy by March 31st?
  2. Even if your privacy policy is compliant, how do you want Twitter to be able to use your data? If you do not use one of the two opt-out options, your data will be used (confidentially) across advertisers on Twitter to help improve targeting as well as look-a-like modeling. Knowing that the data will be completely double-blind, some advertisers may not mind the usage across Twitter if it will ultimately drive better results. If an advertiser feels uncomfortable with this level of data exposure, they can choose opt-out option 1, which still enables for that data to help out the advertiser itself but not share with others.

If you have any questions about what option is best for you as an advertiser, please reach out to your iProspect team for assistance and they will work with your Twitter account team to ensure compliance and privacy.