VP Business Development | TRUSTe
This week our TRUSTe team spread out across New York City for Advertising Week 2011 festivities. One of the highlights for me personally was AdMonsters OPS 2011, where I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion about ad privacy. The panel was moderated by Rob Beeler (VP of Content at AdMonsters), and included Ashkan Soltani (Independent consultant and principal researcher for the WSJ’s “What they Know” series), and Stephen Kline (Senior Counsel at Omnicom Media Group).
Three important themes emerged during our panel conversation:
1) Re-Defining Privacy: First, the panelists seemed to all agree that while it is important for the ad ecosystem to participate in the DAA’s self-regulatory program, an ‘icon regime’ is only a first step in addressing ad privacy issues. Privacy issues are a sub-set of a company’s data practices and data management program (how data is collected, used, and distributed). Therefore, beyond providing consumer privacy notification, it is increasingly critical for brands and platforms to address their broader data practices and privacy risk in their technology. This is something we are starting to call “Data Privacy” (vs. “consumer privacy”).
2) Data Privacy As A Competitive Advantage: Proactively addressing consumer privacy issues through enhanced notices, icons, and opt-outs will help keep a brand or ad platform out of hot water and reduce risk. However, as Stephen pointed out, demonstrating good data privacy can also help win new clients and actually help build a business. For example, if a platform (e.g., ad server, DSP, exchange, etc.) can demonstrate in detail that its platform is safely collecting and using data, it is more likely for the brand, agency, or trading desk to use that platform’s technology over competitors and to build a deeper relationship (e.g., moving valuable, proprietary first-party data on to the platform).
3) Getting Under The Hood: The panel then turned its attention to how a business can build good data privacy as an asset and competitive advantage. As a security and privacy researcher, Ashkan has done extensive work ‘looking under the hood’ of how advertising and data technologies are truly functioning beyond the disclosures made in privacy notices. As a first step to good data privacy, Ashkan reminded the audience that operations professionals do have access to free and commercial tools in the marketplace that can help them audit their own or their partners’ technologies to better ensure there are no unhappy surprises lurking in the code. TRUSTe offers this sort of deep audit and technology monitoring to ad platforms and agencies in what we call our TRUSTed Data certification.
Thanks again to Rob and the AdMonsters’ team for a great event, and I enjoyed learning a lot and moving the privacy conversation forward with Stephen and Ashkan.