This was sent in by one of our followers.
I read the post about XXXX’s digital media company getting sued. I work in marketing so I got curious about what the company does.
So, I went to LinkedIn, found his profile, and got the company name. He is listed as the Co-Founder at this company.
Then, I went to the website. As another of your followers pointed out, the website uses a lot of doublespeak and euphemisms, and they repeat themselves. I understand why many people might go to this site and get confused and not really understand what they do. I work in the industry, so I get it. Thought I’d send you an explanation written in layman’s terms so people who aren’t in the advertising business can understand.
When you go to their website, the company says they are: Creating options for consumers, de-risking advertiser media spend, Maximizing publisher monetization, Building a more efficient advertising ecosystem.
If you’re not in the industry, you might think they are an advertising company.
They are not.
They sell data.
Companies like this gather data about people and sell it to advertisers so that advertisers can use the data to better find the kind of people they’re targeting. A good metaphor for this would be that instead of advertisers having to shoot in the dark, data companies like this turn on the light so the advertisers can aim better. The advertiser still has to do the work of having a strong message to drive the sale, but they also don’t have to spend money on people who are not in the market for their product. Funny enough, this company does what XXX XXXX SAYS she does, and we all know she is now facing Federal charges for some very illegal behavior.
There are many above board companies that do this kind of work. But, there are many companies who work in shady and illegal ways. The shadiness/illegal activity comes into question when you look at:
- How they get their data. There are many illegal ways to get the data.
- If they get people’s data, planning to use it for a purpose other than what they say they will, that is illegal
- If they don’t tell people they are getting their data, that is shady but not necessarily illegal in the US. It is in California under CCPA but we won’t go into that. It is definitely illegal to do this in the E.U., because of GDPR.
- What they do with the data when they get it.
- If they don’t keep the data secure, that is shady and perhaps illegal. Data breaches happen all the time. If a company is found to be negligent, that is illegal. If a company has a data breach, but can’t be proven to be negligent, they can still be sued for large sums and lose.
- If they give or sell the data to someone and did not disclose that they would be sharing the data, that is shady or possibly illegal.
I see a couple of red flags.
The biggest red flag is that when you go to this company’s website, you do not see a banner that tells you how they use your data. While these types of banners are not legally necessary for all companies to use in the USA, data companies that are in the business of collecting your data should be upfront and honest about it, especially because they’re in the business of selling data. Again, I’m not saying they’re doing anything wrong, but it’s odd that they wouldn’t be more upfront about it.
Another red flag: I looked on the Better Business Bureau to see what complaints are filed against the company. There are 9. It’s important to say that just because someone puts something in a complaint to the BBB, it does not mean it is true.
Among those complaints, there are multiple about their data being used in a manner that they did not agree to. One person mentioned that they have been “getting harassing automated phone calls daily from this company” and that “they have blocked no less than 5 numbers and the calls still keep coming. I did not sign up for this service, and have attempted to contact them directly for removal, with no success”.
Additionally, there is a complaint about this “company using fake websites to generate leads for Auto Warranty marketers. They are creating fake “opted-in” leads then selling them to telemarketers.” In that case, the complaint is saying that the company both obtained their data under false pretenses and then used it in a way that they did not disclose.
I have no idea whether these complaints are true. However, I do find it interesting that the XXXX’s company has responded to each, saying that essentially, while they had consent from that user to contact them, they will stop because they “consider your written complaint as a request to opt out and have processed accordingly”.
I am not a legal expert. But once someone opts out of receiving marketing calls/emails/texts, giving that person’s contact info to another company to use is VERY shady, if not illegal. If that complaint is true, yikes.
Like I said, there are many legitimate, above board and un-shady ways to run a data company. These complaints could all be false. But they definitely make you wonder.