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Adtech headache could help publishers in the long run

20 Sep 2019  |  Newsline Staff 
Adtech headache could help publishers in the long run

Chop chop: Adland has until Christmas to get its house in order over its use of online personal data on the open-exchange.

Currently, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is in "flexible" mode, having opened a dialogue with the industry - including brands, adtech vendors, publishers and trade bodies - as it wraps its head around what is a hugely complex (and often quite dodgy) market.

The short of it is: chasing people around the web based on personal data is not GDPR compliant, but it represents a large proportion of online spend. Many people in the market are openly uncomfortable with it anyway, but it keeps many under-pressure businesses afloat. A case of we have to do it, because everyone is doing it.

Fortunately, the ICO is understanding of this, which is why it won't just pull the plug and issue fines. Rather, it wants to help the industry get to where it needs to be.

As Simon McDougall, executive director of technology and innovation at the ICO, said this week at a Rezonence event: "we're concerned about this industry because of the scale of what is going on...adtech is unique and the type of data it uses is worrying - but the intentions behind its use are largely benign - [the industry] just wants to better serve ads."

McDougall added that the entire industry now needs to "move the dial" - and by Christmas the ICO will have a clear idea on whether it's willing to evolve.

Some form of industry-wide collaboration here is essential: by shifting everyone on a rising tide, the bad actors will be quickly identified. And those that do fail to act are likely to be walloped by hefty fines at some stage.

This is all a technical headache for the sector - but the ICO says it's "delighted" with how the IAB UK and its members have engaged.

Publishers might be worried for now too - but ultimately, ditching the personal identifiers surely marks a return to contextual-based advertising, and that is where news and magazine brands can really start to take back some power.

Reject or accept?

On Friday (20 Sept), millions of people across the world are taking to the streets to strike in protest of the climate crisis - and thanks to the Create & Strike initiative they're joined by staff from over 120 businesses across the UK ad industry who plan to amplify the message with their creative skills.

It's been four months since an open letter to adland asked the industry to acknowledge and address the problematic role it has had in driving unsustainable consumption on behalf of its clients.

The debate raises some serious questions for agencies. How can advertising be used to drive positive behaviour change? Are agencies morally responsible for the impact their clients have on the planet? Should agencies be willing to ditch high carbon emitting clients?

According to creative agency Nice and Serious, the problem with addressing those questions is that corporate decision making often requires people to leave their morals at the door.

To bring the best interests of humanity to the forefront of decision making, the agency has developed The Moral Compass - a tool which opens up the conversation and lets staff vote on whether their agency should accept or reject a brief.

Nice and Serious hopes The Moral Compass will not only help agencies to make more ethical decisions, but will help adland to better retain its creative talent and have more constructive conversations with clients - read the full report here.

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TimElkington, Chief Digital Officer, IAB UK on 20 Sep 2019
“A quick point of clarification – the above says that “chasing people around the web based on personal data is not GDPR compliant”. This isn’t necessarily accurate. The use of personal data and whether or not that is compliant depends on the particular circumstances. While there is undoubtedly work to be done to address the ICO’s concerns – and IAB UK are actively engaging with them to do so – it’s crucial that in trying to summarise these issues we don’t over-simplify or inadvertently misrepresent them.”


05 Aug 2020 

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