SGA buys Swiss’ Tinder

Studies showed average user consult his phone almost one hundred times a day. This is an fantastic potential for SGA who wish to make profits of the increase of use of “smartphones”. With this change of habits, advertisers consider phones and tablets have already integrated familly of Media Out of Home (MOH), which billboards and outdoor screens already belong. SGA is convinced that telephones can help advertisers in extending “the chain of communication of digital and analog advertising” and then increase the “penetration” of advertising in the social fabric.

Technically, SGA intend to create a beacon network, which with
Near Field Communication (NFC), can draw phones’ owners when they are out of home on streets or in shops. To function, beacon technology needs real time precise geolocation data of people. In order to install their beacon network, on 1st of February, SGA has created a new brand, “SGA Interaction” and has bought Blinq, a company who like Tinder and Badoo is specialized in dating application. Why? Because algorithmes of that type of applications use geolocation parameters. They are called geosocial networking applications. The application of Blinq precisely use beacon network to function. This is what SGA is interested in.

Since 2015, we have known SGA and Jcdecaux were developping together a new type of Out of Home advertising technique, that could detect, record and transmit gazes of passers-by. After two years of dispute in France, judiciary power has just forbidden Jcdecaux to spy mobiles of passers-by. With the creation of the their new brand SGA Interaction and the acquisition of Blinq, strategy of SGA take the same orientation than that of their stockholder Jcdecaux.[1]Jcdecaux owns 30 percents of SGA.

In Switzerland, besides data collected trough beacon network, advertisers could try to get more private data trough telecommunications providers. For some people, private data of that kind isn’t nearly to happen yet. Thanks God, government is on the watch [protects you]. Well, recent development in domains of technologies, advertising and swiss politics may shake up this assumption. Since 1st February, Swisscom has begun to use private data generated by the use of TV of their clients without their prior agreement, and Swisscom has sold those data to Admeira (ex-Publicsuisse), an adertising agency created by Ringier, SSR and… Swisscom. Some local elected representatives already work with Swisscom on a project that exploit private data of Swisscom’s clients.

In 2015, Pully Municipality has created a Mobility Observatory that directly use data from telephones, provided by Swisscom. Swisscom has access to 98 percents of data of phones’ owners in Switzerland, data from their own clients and those of other telecommunication providers, because they use infrastructures of Swisscom. Thanks to a software, Swisscom can monitor in real time the flow of movements of their customers, as showed on the video below. The recording focused on Zurich area, but data are quite precise (few meters).

On the paper, this project from Pully is flawless and at first sight, one could almost accuse us to be out of subject on this matter. The Municipality propose an innovative approach. They want to take up the challenge of urbanization and mobility of the future. Through their collaboration with Swisscom, they can determine the traffic and visit of pedestrians and other people, so they can identify principal hubs of activity in the City and therefore improve life quality of its inhabitants. Who would dare to challenge this good intentions?

Two shadows darken the idyllic statements of Swisscom and Pully Municipality. First, as Vincent Kaufmann, head of Urban sociology Laboratory at EPFL reminded, although Federal Act on Data Protection provides some protection and even if big data are formally anonymized by Swisscom, there are several ways to identify owners of those private data. Second, when asked to stop letting advertisers to install billboards and other advertisement equipments on their territory and public space, many local authorities refuse invoking  the revenue they get from it. Then it seems legitimate to seriously doubt that elected representatives will be virtuous enough when SGA is going to propose them to pay for private data provided by Swisscom.


Notes   [ + ]

1. Jcdecaux owns 30 percents of SGA.

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