Real-Time Marketing and Measurement

Q&A with InMarket’s CEO Todd Morris

InMarket & The FTC: Clarifying Location’s Role in Marketing and What it Means for Advertisers, InMarket, and our Industry

By: Todd Morris, CEO of InMarket

Consumer privacy has always been a top priority for InMarket — and in today’s evolving and complex digital marketing landscape, it’s increasingly top-of-mind for marketers, solution providers and government leaders alike.

However, until our recent agreement with the FTC on location data privacy standards, there was no clear federal standard for simple questions like “what qualifies as a sensitive location” or “what should be included on a consumer consent opt-in.”  

Now that we have concluded this process, I want to be clear on what this means for InMarket, our clients and the industry at-large by addressing common questions and misconceptions:

Will InMarket’s products and solutions change? Will your data be less precise?

Todd Morris: No. There are no changes to how InMarket’s advertising and measurement solutions work because of this agreement. InMarket’s solutions continue to be powered by precise location data.

Did the FTC ban InMarket from selling precise location data?

Morris: Yes—and we agreed to this because the licensing and sale of precise locations was never part of our mission as a business, and the FTC did not make any claims related to it. As a marketing technology company, we use data to power commercial insights to help advertisers reach their audience and measure ad performance. This provision applies only to data leaving the walls of InMarket, not the use of precise location data in our solutions.

Did InMarket collect data without consumers permission?

Morris: No. We fundamentally disagree with the FTC allegations on this issue. InMarket has always maintained a commitment to providing consumers with clear information and choices about the collection and use of location data, and we believe strongly that the privacy notices in our apps were clear and aligned with industry best practices. In fact, the FTC had no allegations related to how we disclosed data collection in our privacy policy. Consent practices and industry standards have evolved over the years, and now there is a clear federal standard based on the changes we made to our app permission flows in the Fall of 2022.

Are InMarket’s owned & operated apps and partner apps compliant with the updated consent process?

Morris: Yes. Advertisers can take comfort that InMarket is compliant with this new standard for its Owned & Operated Apps and will be aligned across its entire partner App network well before the required deadline. The agreement addresses specifics regarding placement of consumer notices. The updates we made to our consent flows within our Owned and Operated apps in the Fall of 2022 are now the FTC standard for what is considered proper consent. Additionally, we committed to work with our SDK partner apps to align to the industry standard around the collection and use of location data, and as of today, the vast majority of our app partners, accounting for ~84% of the ads served in our network, have made the required updates. Remaining partners are expected to complete their implementations by the end of May 2024. 

Is healthcare-related targeting prohibited?

Morris: No, but some specific health related categories have been classified as sensitive locations, while marketing tactics based on non-sensitive healthcare locations have not been impacted. One positive outcome of the process has been that for the first time, the FTC has clearly defined what healthcare locations are considered sensitive: sexual and reproductive health care providers, offices of mental health physicians and practitioners, residential mental health and substance abuse facilities, psychiatric hospitals, offices of oncologists, and offices of pediatricians. InMarket does not create segments around sensitive locations categories and will continuously build upon its existing programs to suppress these locations from its system. This includes integrating technical solutions such as automated feeds and filtering efforts like our innovative partnerships with Power to Decide to ensure visit data from sensitive locations is kept off our systems and products. Advertisers should know partnerships like Power to Decide are leading edge, and InMarket has made introductions to other providers in the space to encourage them to adopt similar processes and partnerships.

What does this mean for advertisers?

Morris: Our efforts to raise industry standards should give advertisers confidence and trust in working with InMarket, particularly given the work, solutions and processes we’ve put in place throughout this process and moving forward. We have a compliant, reliable path forward for our clients, and all advertisers should be asking these same questions to any other service providers they work with. 

Why did InMarket agree to resolve this complaint if there was no wrongdoing?

Morris: Resolving this dispute was not an admission of any wrongdoing – in fact, we fundamentally disagreed with the allegations made. Faced with the option of multi-year litigation to defeat claims that we view as flawed and unfair, we made the practical choice to work with the FTC on a narrow and practical agreement. Taking this approach allowed us to bring to the industry the clarity of a new, workable national standard for consumer consent and a clear list of sensitive locations—a win for InMarket, our clients and the industry overall.

To sum it all up:

As a result of this Agreement, there’s now regulatory clarity that location data has a valid, permanent place in digital marketing. The FTC’s actions provide clarity around proper consent practices and define specifically what is considered a sensitive location. Advertisers and solution providers should take diligent note of these developments and benchmark each of their partners against these standards.

We believe there is now a permanent place for responsible location data suppliers in the digital advertising ecosystem with these clear guidelines. Leveraging consent-based, non-sensitive location data allows marketers to connect and engage with consumers with confidence so that they can continue to create valuable and relevant experiences that drive long-term mutually beneficial customer relationships. 

As the CEO of InMarket, I’m incredibly proud of the actions we’ve taken to further advance the industry standards, and we’re eager to continue contributing to the conversation surrounding best practices. We appreciate the tremendous support we’ve received from our incredible clients, partners and industry associations colleagues.

If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your sales representative or drop us a line at info@inmarket.com. The time and effort our team has invested into drilling into these critical industry issues has made InMarket better and a leading expert in this area. We’d be happy to provide further clarity or discuss with your team.