Tell us about your role and journey into Advertising technology
My first role in Ad technology was with AdNet who built websites in Omaha, Nebraska. While there, I helped the company move from building websites to administering online display media for Ameritrade, also headquartered in Omaha. From there, I moved to Colorado to join an ad serving startup called MatchLogic. It’s been a fun and interesting road since that eventually led me to Sovrn today.
What are your thoughts on the CCPA? How can the industry prepare when the regulation is yet to take its final shape?
The CCPA answers consumer demand for better transparency and safeguards around data use, and this makes compliance essential. While the details still aren’t finalized, that’s no reason for publishers to put data preparations on hold. Instead of seeing uncertainty about CCPA rules as a barrier to action, publishers should be working to ensure they are ready for anything — even the worst-case scenario.
In an increasingly strict and varied legislative landscape, taking a Band-Aid approach to each new regulation just isn’t going to cut it anymore; if publishers want to meet legal requirements and maintain their competitive advantage, they must closely evaluate and align data practices with the highest standards.
So what makes the CCPA different from previous legislation?
Some publishers might assume previous efforts to follow the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mean they are covered for the CCPA. But this is a mistake. Sharing general similarities — such as giving consumers more power over personal data and clarity about how it’s used, and who by — doesn’t make data privacy laws the same. The CCPA has its own terms and requirements that set it apart. For one thing, the law has a highly specific scope: applying to Californian consumers and businesses that gross over $25 million per year. Unlike consent rules under the GDPR, requiring publishers to gain explicit permission before collating data, the CCPA is also currently due to work on an opt-out basis.
Most important for publishers are differences around profiling and automated decision-making; two key ingredients for the targeted programmatic advertising, many rely on to keep revenue flowing. On the face of it, the CCPA appears more relaxed than the GDPR, which specifically refers to profiling and places provisions on its usage. But with the CCPA classifying inferred information as personal data, publishers could still come up against other challenges when adapting their advertising models.
What should content owners be doing to ensure they are compliant?
Industry leaders are stepping in to offer publishers a helping hand with the California legislation, including the IAB and its CCPA Compliance Framework. But, although useful, these tools only tackle one piece of the data privacy puzzle; and that can leave publishers in a tricky position. Using one solution per regulation means treating traffic from certain locations differently — something few publishers have the resources or funds to do. Plus, they also miss their chance to get a grip on wider data management, and privacy.
To ensure they’re equipped for whatever the future holds, publishers must start assuming the worst and readying their data affairs. Taking it as a given that every data law will apply to all, make explicit consent mandatory, affect the profiling that drives automated advertising, and come with hefty penalties for non-compliance.
Privacy law is often seen as consumer-focused, what does it do for businesses?
The core goal of data legislation is protecting consumers, and that’s how it should be. As more everyday activity happens digitally, and companies gather more data about consumer activity, it’s only fair they have an understanding of how and why their information is used. Most crucially, consumers deserve a say about whether they want to allow data collection and processing, and who they are comfortable sharing it with.
Too many publishers see regulation as an obstacle and focus their energy on finding a way round it so they can continue business as usual. But this perspective does both their own business and consumers a disservice. As well as overlooking the need to do right by consumers, cutting corners means they miss out on the opportunities compliance brings.
Aiming for the highest data privacy bar not only supports the founding principle of the open Internet — unrestricted access for all — but can also improve audience relationships, and revenue. By proving genuine dedication to respecting consumer rights, publishers will earn greater consumer trust that strengthens relationships and loyalty. And the lure of compliant inventory, and opted-in audiences, will fuel a spike in advertising investment.
With CCPA in effect, what are your predictions for your industry and technology markets for 2020-2024?
Data privacy and brand safety will keep their spot at the top of the agenda. In 2020, this will be driven by a blend of CCPA enforcement and the presidential election — publishers and marketers alike will need to tread carefully amid a tide of political content, and fresh data guidelines. We can expect buyers to be choosier with spend, and sellers to work harder on providing the premium, brand-safe, and compliant placements they seek.
But the movement towards greater transparency and accountability won’t end there. Over the next few years, escalating demand for high-quality media will continue to reshape the digital ecosystem on multiple levels. Brands will be increasingly careful in their publisher and technology choices. Content owner selection will be based on the ability to offer strong audience relationships, as well as secure media and a rich pool of first-party data to improve targeting accuracy. Meanwhile, platforms will need to offer a clear view all down the supply chain if they want to earn a place in streamlined tech stacks.
The overall result will be a slimmed-down digital advertising and media space — and that will be no bad thing. With more breathing space and emphasis on quality, the truly valuable and trusted players will be able to rise to the top; lifting broader industry standards at the same time.
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Keith Pieper, VP Product Operations at Sovrn, gives his take on the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and what it means for the digital media space.