O2 customers will have their London Underground journeys anonymously tracked and analysed by advertisers, as the mobile operator looks to expand into big data.
Under the new deal, O2 will sell anonymised bulk data of about one million Tube journeys per day to ad tech firm Exterion.
Exterion will use information held by O2 on its customers’ wealth, age, gender and hobbies to target advertising at passengers.
Overall, around 25 million O2 customers will have their London Underground journeys tracked, analysed, and sold to advertisers via the scheme.
The data is anonymous but tracks which apps customers are using and the types of web pages visited, aggregating the information to sell to advertising companies and big brands.
The tool can tell companies where people with shared interests or spending habits are likely to be at any given time.
While the data is anonymised, Exterion could guess at the “affluence level” of tube travellers by analysing which websites they visit.
For example, the technology pinpoints where the bulk of affluent young women who are interested in fashion will be, broken down by location and hour.
Mike Ridley, head of data at Exterion, said: “We can add other details like an ‘affluence level’, based on how people use their phones – if the smartphone has recently been on holiday, for example, or based on where the owner goes to work.”
Exterion said it hoped to extend the technology to other transport networks. The capital’s tube network carries 1.3 billion passengers every year, with Waterloo being the busiest station
Meanwhile, Telefonica is currently in the process of trying to sell O2 to Three for roughly £10.25 bn. Competition officials at the European Commission are expected to announce their final decision within the next couple of months.