With an ever-increasing amount of data sloshing through the digital ad system, there's a "privacy bomb" ready to go off, media executives believe.
The consensus at the Monaco Media Forum is that marketers and publishers need to find ways to educate consumers about their data-collection practices. "My aim is to have a public debate on the issue, which is not happening," said Alain Levy, CEO of digital ad network Weborama.
This will prove to be a difficult task, considering the density of the data ecosystem. Data exchanges are multiplying, adding a new layer of complexity. "Everyone wants to sell data," said Shaukat Shamim, CEO of Buysight, a retargeting ad network.
In fact, there are so many entities collecting user data that publishers themselves often aren't aware of what's happening on their own sites.
There are efforts under way in the industry through educational campaigns and the new disclosure requirement for targeted ads. The jury is still out whether self-regulation is enough, said John Clippinger, co-director of The Law Lab at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
"We saw what happened with the financial services industry," he warned.
The invitation-only Monaco Media Forum, which continues through Nov. 12, gathers approximately 300 global leaders in traditional and new media for discussions about the future of online, broadcast and print.