MUNICH/LONDON: Telefónica Germany, the mobile network that operates under the O2 brand, has joined forces with a British start-up to provide its customers with more control over their personal data in return for more relevant ads.
Under the agreement, London-based People.io is launching an app with Telefónica NEXT, the company's own digital solutions division, which has been specifically adapted for the German market where strict data privacy regulations are in force.
Called O2 GET, the new app will allow users to decide for themselves what personal data they would like to enter into their account, Telefónica explained in a statement.
And after answering a few questions, customers will be able to choose which brands they would like to interact with while retaining control over their own data.
Based on their personal interests and preferences, users will be given suggestions for suitable advertising partners and brands they may wish to engage with, although advertisers will not have access to this data at any point, and users can delete their profile whenever they choose.
"Users are rewarded for all of this voluntary information and interaction with companies in the form of credits," the statement read.
"They can then redeem these credits digitally, for example, for gift cards from selected partners or a charitable donation, meaning that they are directly rewarded for providing their data."
Nicholas Oliver, co-founder of People.io, told TechCrunch that the two companies expected to generate about 250,000 downloads in the first six months in Germany, rising to just under a million by the end of this year.
"Our decision to launch in Germany was driven by their strong, consumer-centric data privacy laws. This meant we were focused on building a product that could meet even the most stringent data privacy laws with a view to further market expansion," he said.
But he added that the initiative in Germany is also relevant for consumers and brands in the rest of Europe because the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is due to come into force in May 2018, will severely tighten the rules governing the collection of EU citizens' personal data.
Oliver also explained how the new app might work, giving the example of a consumer called Nic who has set up a playlist with Spotify, the music-streaming service.
"We'd just tell Spotify 'Nic's at work' or 'Nic is about to go running' – without sharing any of the data behind that insight," he said. "So that means Spotify can do what it does best, without ever needing access to your digital life."
Data sourced from Telefónica, TechCrunch; additional content by WARC staff