Privacy Regulation Calls for Industry Collaboration and Establishing Standards

By Lee Ann Daly Board Member, Investor, and Advisor. Former CMO of ESPN, Reuters, Thomson Reuters, Pressed Juicery

The Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) is on the industry’s lips right now, and for good reason. Knowing what this 34 year old law means in the context of the fast growing streaming TV marketplace is a genuine cause to hit the “pause” button for marketers fortunate enough to go to market using streaming video. But marketers have a hundred things to worry about, right?! Does VPPA even fit on the CMO’s list of priorities? 

You betcha!

Notwithstanding the last 18 years of “move fast and break things,” this law is still in effect and is aimed at protecting individuals’ private data from being sold to third parties.  

As a marketer who once went to market in 20 countries in 9 languages, investing tens of millions of dollars in single product launches, the complexity around privacy and data protection is no joke.

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The CMO, more than any other player, sits at the nexus –delivering aggressive growth for the business while at the same time cultivating a relationship (ideally built on trust) with our customers.

As ethical marketers (and people) here in the US, I’d argue the spirit of VPPA is basic fairness and trust. VPPA is aimed at keeping media buyers and sellers from using the consumer without the consumer deriving some benefit in the exchange. And don’t we all want to deserve our customers’ trust? Isn’t that what new data and privacy laws like the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) are all about?

Even if you don’t concern yourself with trust at this intricate level, this 34 year old law still has its teeth: it’s been the basis of recent lawsuits filed against big media streamers like HBOMax and Hulu. I looked into it. There is a $2,000 penalty per violation of the VPPA. So for an advertising campaign that reaches 10 million households, that is a $20,000,000,000 liability. So it’s inevitable that broadcasters and marketers need to sort this out.

And anyway there are better ways to handle targeting, safety and delivering contextually relevant media plans — we just need to establish some standards.

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So let’s ask the partners we have arrayed around our marketing activities (Agencies, SSPs, DSPs and ad servers) to proactively collaborate with us and find the tools that keep us in the letter and spirit of laws like VPPA. And anyway, we need standards to navigate toward the cookie-free future we all face in about 17 months.  

The industry must come together and seek to identify standards and align emerging tools that do not run afoul of the law, but that deliver transparency and brand safety in a way that is not currently in common use. 

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