NEW YORK - Verizon is adopting strict guidelines in order to assure customer privacy is protected and to address other concerns about computer technologies used in conjunction with online sales and advertising. The guidelines, announced today, will determine the company's future use of the technology known as adware in advertising and marketing campaigns.
Adware provides relevant ads to consumers when they search online for a product or service. Verizon has used adware in its advertising campaigns since late 2002 to promote its DSL and Verizon Online products, and more recently for variations of its Freedom bundles of services.
Verizon will not use a different technology, known as spyware, in any of its advertising or marketing campaigns. Spyware is often discussed in the same context as adware, but it is dramatically different. Spyware automatically loads programs onto a computer, often without the user being aware, that are able to track a computer user's Web site visits, collect personal information, reset computer configurations, and are difficult to uninstall.
"Adware has proven to be a successful component in our marketing programs," said Margo Hammar, Verizon's chief privacy officer. "However, in its current forms, adware has generated many consumer issues and become a source of irritation among Internet users, our customers and prospective customers. We want to ensure that our practices for reaching our customers remain consistent with the Verizon privacy principles."
The new guidelines, which have been implemented across all of Verizon's lines of business, including Verizon Wireless and Verizon Information Services, require:
- Clear and conspicuous notice
- Adware downloading processes that ensure informed consent from computer users before the software is downloaded
- Clear brand identification of the source of any pop-up ads
- Prominent and easy-to-follow instructions for removing a program
Hammar said the company will communicate the newly formed guidelines to companies that make targeting software. If the companies can adhere to the guidelines, Verizon would consider using the technology at a future time. Conversely, if they cannot, Verizon would not use that company's services in its marketing programs.
"Verizon treasures the relationship we have with our customers," said Judy Verses, Verizon senior vice president-national marketing. "Our goal is to provide quality products and services to our customers; make their experience in working with us as easy, straightforward and trouble-free as possible; and maintain their trust that we will act in their best interests."
Said Hammar, "Verizon believes that protecting customer privacy with these programs is paramount. But we also feel that there is a need for the Internet advertising industry to develop standards that would create an appropriate place for a more controlled, stricter use of these programs, so that customers can receive the relevant information they want in a less intrusive manner."
While Verizon will implement new rules on its use of adware, the company continues to maximize the Internet in its sales and communications efforts with customers. The company is committed to identifying new ways of targeting relevant messages for its customers and prospects, while aggressively protecting their privacy.
A Dow 30 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $68 billion in annual revenues. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.