Media Buying Briefing: UM’s chief privacy officer prepares for privacy suggestions to become restrictions

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In 2020, Arielle Garcia became the first-ever chief privacy officer at IPG’s UM Worldwide, reflective of media agencies readying for the likelihood of increased privacy regulations.

Nearly three years into this role, Garcia is seeing privacy restrictions in the U.S. again tightening in 2023 as states begin rolling out their own consumer protection laws. At UM, before Garcia came along, the firm began having “client privacy primers” to stay on top of privacy issues.

In the future, Garcia believes agencies will see “more of the harmonization” between privacy expertise and client support. Many client conversations today revolve around California’s rules, focusing on operations and solutions as the landscape changes.

“Part of it is having our own central team – the first thing that we did here was we had a privacy champions network from GDPR,” she said. “We expanded that to create client privacy champions, because you need someone that’s embedded in each of the teams. Clients take different approaches to this.”

In an interview with Digiday, Garcia discussed the media agency’s goal to build company-level competency on evolving regulations, as well as to develop a central team that is tracking these changes. In addition to doing privacy readiness outreach surrounding the emerging state laws, she said UM is preparing for GDPR enforcement changes and watching the Federal Trade Commission closely as children’s privacy protections develop.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

What are your top privacy priorities in the upcoming year?

The more important conversation is less around restrictions and more around properly evaluating the propriety and durability of solutions. When we’re evaluating partners, we’re trying to understand how they’re safeguarding sensitive personal information. We’re trying to understand what mechanisms they have to prevent inadvertent collection of children’s data — these things that today are just priorities for regulators, but tomorrow will be restrictions. For agencies, it’s looking beyond the top line and really understanding how the data is being sourced, what protections are in place, looking at those future-forward priority issues and how partners are addressing it.

How is your team preparing for the state laws rolling out?

With the state laws, it’s been really the same. Predominantly conversations have still been about the California Privacy Rights Act, but California is an outlier in so many ways. The other states have essentially an opt-out of processing for targeted advertising… We started having conversations with clients what I call a client privacy primer. The challenging thing is [the ambiguity and the differences] in state laws. The most value that we provide to them is in making sure that they’re understanding the immediate implications, such as the applicability to the ad tech spaghetti landscape, and that we’re connecting the dots by surfacing solutions from partners to enable that.

What are the biggest concerns you hear from the partner and client side?

One kind of [conversation is] the longer view of things and moving from this reactive and compliance state to [being] proactive about being responsible and partnering with those that abide by those standards and expectations. The vast majority of conversations that we’re having on privacy on a daily basis are still very much operational. “OK, so we think that this solution will be ready by the state. What can we do in the meantime?” We are helping to play matchmaker and work with partners to understand [if we can] negatively target the state or if [there are] limited processing options.

Will it become necessary for agencies to establish their own privacy officers and teams?

While I am chief privacy officer, I’m not in a legal function. I sit on the business side. I oversee our compliance stuff, but a big part of my role is supporting clients. What I’ve seen is, this has different flavors at different agencies — whether this person actually lives within their privacy team or whether this person lives within their product team is different. Within the next year or two years, we will see a lot more of the harmonization of these skill sets into something cohesive.

Will we reach a point where the U.S. will have something equivalent to GDPR?

I am still optimistic that eventually we will. I do not think it will be this year. What’s more likely is that we’ll see federal topics specifically, like federal law relating to kids. We might still see something at a federal level updating protections for kids and not just privacy, but privacy and safety — like just mitigating online harms basically.

Color by numbers

When done right, people can be receptive to sponsored content. As more brands incorporate owned and paid media into their mix of content programs, consumers are adapting and engaging with different content formats. A 2023 State of Sponsored Content study by V2 Communications and Researchscape surveyed 1,000 consumers to understand the most effective types of sponsored content. They found people’s engagement varied depending on the formats, ranging from podcasts to articles, and specific product or service. More stats:

  • When asked the type of sponsored content they are most likely to engage with, video still ranks highest (29%), while email was the second most popular (21%) and articles in third place (19%).
  • Some 26% of consumers said they find value in sponsored content when they are interested in learning about a subject, issue or trend.
  • People wanting to learn more about a product or service for professionals are most likely to engage with sponsored podcasts (30%) and articles (27%).
  • Consumers want transparency — 37% said it is important to reveal who is sponsoring the content, and 36% said it matters knowing when a piece of content is sponsored.

Takeoff & landing

  • Dentsu launched dentsu shop, what it’s calling an integrated retail “accelerator” that harnesses creative, media and data assets within the holding company to help clients better navigate the exploding world of commerce media and retail media networks.
  • Account wins: Omnicom Media Group landed global media duties for Philips Domestic Appliances, covering 100 countries in which the company sells a variety of appliances. The mandate is effective April 1 … Independent Crossmedia won global media AOR duties for European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, and will handle the client’s business out of its London and Düsseldorf, Germany, offices. 
  • Personnel moves: ad tech firm Ogury hired Emily Barfuss as its new CMO, coming over from her CMO post at Tremor … Dentsu X hired Pranav Pandit as its new chief media officer, coming over from OMD where he was an executive director.

Direct quote

“I am so frustrated by why marketing teams and advertisers don’t understand the most important thing in their job is having the same data. And you’re never going to achieve that if you’re buying separate tools for separate functions … It comes down to the [fact that the] decision sometimes is in various departments. And it’s human behavior that the person who is leading that purchase wants to be the hero, as opposed to looking at the bigger picture of what’s right for the company. There’s an awful lot of what I call peacocks in marketing.”

— Jill Speirs, president & CEO of M2 Partners, a consultancy that specializes in a variety of marketing disciplines, on the lack of unified data strategies among most marketers

Speed reading

  • Digiday senior news editor Seb Joseph delved into how consolidation among SSPs is benefiting the bigger players, and how agencies are helping to evolve what used to be called “preferred partnerships.” 
  • Digiday senior marketing and tech reporter Marty Swant continued his deep coverage of AI’s sudden notoriety in the media scene, the latest looking at how Microsoft’s ChatGPT attached to Bing could alter the balance of power in search marketing
  • Digiday senior editor Michael Bürgi rounded up four of the Big Six agency holding companies’ 2022 earnings and found out from analysts that they’re a bit skeptical of “organic growth” because it can cover up a number of sins around client spending.

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