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Experian just invested in a location data company, which is a little creepy

Experian just invested in a location data company, which is a little creepy
[Photos: Charles/Unsplash; Ales Nesetril/Unsplash]

Credit reporting agency Experian has made a “strategic investment” in location data company PlaceIQ, and that cannot be great news for consumers.

TechCrunch reports that Experian has made an investment of an undisclosed amount in PlaceIQ, which uses location intelligence for marketing, for a “multi-year, strategic partnership, where we will work together to license data.” Under the agreement, Experian will “incorporate PlaceIQ’s LandMark location data product into its broader suite of data and measurement tools,” per TechCrunch.

While there are some good reasons for collecting data—including so-called alternative data—in that it can help consumers who have traditionally been stuck outside the banking and credit system, in the wake of the 2017 Equifax breach and growing privacy concerns around data in general, Experian’s investment may raise some red flags. Experian has long been one of those behind-the-scenes firms that collect wide swaths of data about hundreds of millions of American consumers and then sell it to retailers, advertisers, credit agencies, and other businesses who want to know as much as possible about their target markets.

Much of Experian’s work is through its sibling company, Experian Data Corp, which, as Fast Company reported, updates its database daily with millions of consumers’ “rental payment history data from property owners/managers, electronic rent payment services and collection companies.” PlaceIQ’s location data will be quite a useful addition to its arsenal of data tracking tools, consumer privacy be damned. Just get ready for your credit reporting company to know even more about you, if that’s even possible.

We reached out to Experian, and the company sent along this comment from Kevin Dean, president of marketing services:

“Customer behavior has evolved significantly over the years. People interact with brands through a variety of digital touchpoints—whether it’s mobile, social media or video. With the mindset that consumers need to be at the heart of every marketing strategy, brands and agencies need to find ways to reach them and deliver more relevant messages. We believe quality data and advanced technology underpin that entire approach, and our collaboration and investment with PlaceIQ reinforce our commitment to helping brands meet that expectation.”

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