Marketing firm admits it listens to conversations to sell targeted ads

Leading U.S. marketing company Cox Media Group (CMG) has reportedly admitted to monitoring conversations for the purpose of targeted advertising.

Working with renowned brands like CBS, Fox News and ESPN, CMG has allegedly been promoting its ability to eavesdrop on consumers through microphones in smartphones, TVs, and smart speakers.

The agency has coined this capability “Active Listening” and has been actively pitching this service it to advertisers, showcasing the feature on its website, reports 404.

Why we care. Amid the worldwide push for enhanced privacy, including measures like the phasing out of third-party cookies, these statements have caught the PPC community off guard. Many are now speculating about potential repercussions, signaling a warning to the broader industry.

SEO consultant Glenn Gabe responded to the report on X, writing: “This will not end well.”

Google Ads expert, Steve Huskey, added: “Textbook definition of invasion of privacy.”

How it works. CMG allegedly claims that its Active Listening technology can spot potential customers in real-time through everyday conversations. It’s uncertain if this feature is on current devices, but CMG promotes it as a futuristic marketing tool that is “available today.”

Pitching the product. A CMG rep was reportedly spotted on LinkedIn promoting this service, encouraging interested parties to get in touch so that they could provide more information on prices.

What CMG is saying. A CMG spokesperson told Search Engine Land:

  • “CMG
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Marketing giant ‘admits it listens to your conversations to sell targeted ads’

Leading U.S. marketing company Cox Media Group (CMG) has reportedly admitted to monitoring conversations for targeted advertising.

Working with renowned brands like CBS, Fox News and ESPN, CMG has allegedly been promoting its ability to eavesdrop on consumers through microphones in smartphones, TVs and smart speakers.

The agency has coined this capability “Active Listening” and has been actively pitching this service to advertisers, showcasing the feature on its website, reports 404.

Dig deeper: 3 privacy-centric solutions for marketing compliance

Pitching the product. A CMG rep was reportedly spotted on LinkedIn promoting this service, encouraging interested parties to get in touch so that they could provide more information on prices.

Early response. Industry experts are already speculating about potential repercussions. On Twitter/X, SEO consultant Glenn Gabe wrote: “This will not end well.”

Google Ads expert Steve Huskey added on Twitter/X: “Textbook definition of invasion of privacy.”

Why we care. Consumers have been suspicious of this happening since voice-activated devices and apps were first introduced. However, it hasn’t stopped most people (98% of U.S. smart device users, according to one study) from using them. That said, Apple and Google have both ended the practice of listening to recordings made by these devices. Likely because it is more than a little bit creepy.

When Siri, Alexa, et al., hit the marketplace neither consumers nor governments were as concerned about individual privacy rights. CMG’s actions are drawing attention to these practices at a time when citizens

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Facebook owner Meta faces EU ban on targeted advertising, Marketing & Advertising News, ET BrandEquity


<p>Representative image </p>
Representative image

The European data regulator has agreed to extend a ban imposed by non-EU member Norway on “behavioural advertising” on Facebook and Instagram to cover all 30 countries in the European Union and the European Economic Area, it said on Wednesday.

The ban on such advertising, which targets users by harvesting their data, is a setback for U.S. tech giant Meta Platforms, the owner of the two social media services, which has opposed efforts to curb the practice.

Meta runs the risk of getting fined up to 4% of its global turnover, the Norwegian data regulator said.

The decision by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) is an instruction to the data regulator of Ireland, where Meta’s European headquarters are located, to impose a permanent ban on the company’s use of behavioural advertising within two weeks, EDPB said in a statement to Reuters.

“On 27 October, the EDPB adopted an urgent binding decision … to impose a ban on the processing of personal data for behavioural advertising on the legal bases of contract and legitimate interest across the entire European Economic Area,” it said.

Meta on Wednesday said it had already said it would give users in the EU and the EEA the opportunity to consent, and would offer, in November, a subscription model to comply with regulatory requirements.

“EDPB members have been aware of this plan for weeks and we were already fully engaged with them to arrive at a satisfactory outcome for all parties,” said a company spokesperson.

“This development unjustifiably ignores that careful and robust regulatory process.”

Since Aug.7, Meta has been subject to daily fines in Norway of 1 million crowns ($90,000) for breaching users’ privacy by using their data, such as locations or browsing behaviour, for advertising, a business model common to Big Tech.

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  • The messaging segment has a single digit revenue share in the mobile advertising market and is projected to lose market share over the course of the forecast period. Customers typically do not read advertisements if they are delivered in message format and that is why
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