European telcos get green light for advertising JV


The joint venture (JV) would potentially threaten the advertising hegemony of existing tech giants like Google and Meta

On Friday, European antitrust regulators gave unconditional approval for Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, and Vodafone to create a new advertising JV.

In a statement, the European Commission said that the deal “would not significantly reduce competition in French, German, Italian and Spanish markets”.

Each of the four operators will hold a 25% stake in the business, which will be headquartered in Belgium and run by an independent management team.

The deal marks the first major attempt from the telecoms industry to curtail the dominance of Big Tech in the advertising sphere.

The telcos first announced their intention to the form the JV at the start of the year, saying they would offer “a privacy-led, digital identification solution to support the digital marketing and advertising activities of brands and publishers”.

The platform works by creating a unique digital tag that tracks the app and browser usage for each of the operators’ subscribers. This tag can then be shared with advertisers and publishers, leaving the customer themselves ‘pseudo-anonymous’.

Users must opt-in to the sharing of their tag with each individual third party, thereby giving them increased control over which companies have access to their data.

“Users will have access to a user-friendly privacy portal. They can review which brands and publishers they have given consent to, and withdraw their consent,” explained the telcos in a statement.

The operators say that this JV will be entirely compliant with European privacy regulations, including General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy directive.

A trial of the platform has already been initiated in Germany, with additional tests expected to take place in France and Spain as the platform develops.

Ultimately, the operators hope to make their advertising platform available to any operator in Europe.

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