TagMan, a smart container tag system for enterprise commerce, recently named Angus Wilson to a newly created position of Chief Privacy Officer. Will there be a bloodbath if Senator John Kerry and Senator John McCain unleash their Privacy Bill of Rights on the ad industry? The ad industry veteran spoke to DIGIDAY: Data about how to survive the potential the opt-out apocalypse that might happen, or not.
What is the likelihood of the Privacy Bill of Rights becoming law, or morphing into an even more powerful, EU-style legal hodgepodge of restrictions?
Every day there seems to be a different opinion as to where the power lies in Washington with respect to this issue and what the various parties concerned think as far as the industry’s own self-regulation activities. There remains a lot of work to do and it is still much too early to predict which, or which combination, of the multiple competing and overlapping initiatives being proposed by various senators, bills, commissions and agencies will end up becoming law. To put it in context, there is still great confusion in Europe, and there is effectively no clarification on the mechanics of the proposals from the rest of the world. Somehow the local rules will ultimately need to tie together globally or be covered by extensive safe-harbor provisions. We therefore do not see this as imminent, but we are preparing all of our clients’ readiness in all the markets that we cover.
Would it necessarily mean a bloodbath for advertisers and brands?
It really depends on exactly which of the many provisions in play across the various parties and jurisdictions actually come into play. Some would be disastrous for the industry as it currently functions — such as a sweeping cookie opt-in provision — and others will help with consumer perception and clarity on what our industry is about, such as transparency and easy-to-use opt-outs.
What can brands do to prepare? How about advertising agencies?
Tags, cookies, data collection and sharing are at the heart of this problem. The best solution is to use a system which allows advertisers and agencies to control all data-driven vendors in one place, thereby ensuring that best practices are being met across the board. Use a vendor-agnostic platform should any one vendor — retargeting, social widgets, data collection, tracking, affiliates, analytics — misbehave or fall foul of policies outlined by the client. A client should be empowered to remove or replace errant vendors instantaneously with another vendor with no interruption to day-to-day business. This is specifically important if you are recommending vendors to clients.
What are some first steps that a CMO can take right now to be ready for whatever privacy regulations emerge?
At the extreme level, where data is the bulk of your business, quiz your legal firm their on their reputation in the privacy space and their ties to lawmakers in this area. Make adjustments accordingly. When choosing vendors or partners for your business, read their label carefully and ask them “what if” scenarios. Surround yourself by reputable vendors who are in touch with, and maybe even guiding, legislative and industry moves in this area. Where appropriate, start now with abiding by industry-led initiatives such as the DAA Digital Advertising Alliance and organizations within that umbrella. I also recommend following on Twitter @evidon, @privacychoice, @ashk4n, @whattheyknow and @JulesPolonetsky. Sign up to relevant, focused groups and media, such as the IAPP International Association of Privacy Professionals.
Agnus Wilson is chief privacy officer at Tagman. Before he joined TagMan, Wilson was general manager of UK operations at iVillage and president of digital agency dComm.