Why GroupM needs a privacy czar

Privacy has a new face at GroupM.

Rachel Glasser, who was previously a partner at GroupM agency MEC, was promoted to director of privacy, a newly created position, this week. It’s an interesting step for the WPP group, as most privacy-related positions generally appear on the platform side, not at the agency. Facebook, for example, has had its own privacy guru since 2011. Google has one — a job the press has dubbed one of the most difficult at the company.

But increasingly, agencies are trying to take back control and avoid being cut out. Glasser, along with GroupM Interaction COO John Montgomery, now makes up the “privacy department” at the agency which was founded in 2008. It’s a hot title, so Digiday caught up with her to ask what it actually entails.

So, how do you explain what exactly you do?
I’m going to focus on what’s going on at the moment, with data privacy education across our agencies [Mindshare, MEC, MediaCom and Maxus] along with our clients so they can keep up with this marketplace.

Explain it to me like I’m your grandmother.
OK. So, we focus on education, first. We communicate with our internal teams so they know what’s happening with legislation, new information coming out of the Digital Advertising Alliance and the Adchoices program. These guys often release new compliance warnings and tools that are supposed to help make brands and marketers compliant. So we keep an eye on that.

Another place where we keep an ear to the ground is state legislation. California, for example, has a lot of disclosure laws. When you target residents in California, you have to include a disclosure on whether you honor or don’t honor a Do Not Track signal. You just have to. The different state laws require different types of disclosures so we keep an ear out for it so we can at least let internal teams know.

What else?
We will review new tech partners to make sure that clients are going to be well protected when we’re learning about new products and technology. Every day there is a new capability coming to market so we make sure what’s going on so we can help clients.

What do you think about what’s happening with Google?
Google is such a powerhouse in this space. I actually literally just read for example that they signed the pledge to protect student data privacy pledge.

They were late to it.
Microsoft and Apple had signed it already. That’s to be expected, where Microsoft is really the leader for Do Not Track and Apple with its Safari has always been very privacy focused. Google has always been on the opposite side of the spectrum. It’s not about violating people’s privacy, it’s about free information for everyone. The value equation is, you give up a little bit for the free Web. But Google can fit in that model.

What’s your worst nightmare when it comes to privacy issues?
Thankfully it’s not happened yet. I guess the biggest thing is not a particular scare scenario. But I would say we make sure we have gone the extra mile to help mitigate what could happen.


But what could happen? People talk about privacy and data breaches all in one breath.
This is why we have an emphasis on education because a lot of these issues tend to get conflated. Security and privacy are different issues. People hear privacy and they think, “my credit card was stolen.”

We’re talking about a different type of data and a different type of use. We don’t care about the individual data, but we are interested in aggregate group data. You tell us that you’re a soccer mom who likes dogs and the news. In exchange, you get the free Web. That’s the value equation that we want to keep impressing on people. We just want to serve you better ads.

So who needs the education more — consumers, or your clients?
It’s actually neither. It’s a third party. The use and collection of third-party data merits most of my attention. Whether it’s collected by a third-party vendor or someone acting as a third party, it’s really about the third-party data.


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