Lou Mastria, former chief privacy officer for the now-defunct Canoe Ventures, has been named managing director of the Digital Advertising Alliance.
In his new role, Mastria will run the day-to-day business of the DAA's self-regulatory program for online behavioral advertising, at a critical time in the organization's history.
Through the program, the DAA has more than 400 company participants delivering, so far, more than a trillion impressions of an ad icon that offers consumers the choice to opt-out of targeted advertising. The success of the program has convinced regulators, particularly the Federal Trade Commission, to let the industry protect consumer privacy by regulating itself—at least for now. But a big deadline is fast approaching. By the end of the year, the DAA promised the government it would offer an industry-wide opt-out browser solution. But Microsoft pre-empted the DAA and announced earlier this year it would buck the industry-wide opt-out approach for Do Not Track default browser.
It's perhaps Mastria's biggest challenge in his new post. "This will take some working through to understand what it means. We still don't know what the implementation will look like. We don't know if our members will be responsive," Mastria said. "We made the commitment to browser-based choice, but whether [Microsoft] participates or not is still to be determined. But the go-it-alone strategy hasn't worked."
In addition to solving the Microsoft problem, Mastria said he wants to make a stronger case to Washington and consumers about the value proposition of online behavioral advertising. Even though the DAA has been running a consumer education program, Mastria doesn't think it's enough.
"I don't think we've done a good job in terms of making people aware that [advertising] is part of the commercial Internet," Mastria said. "Advertising supports and subsidizes a lot of what consumers take for granted on the Internet, such as free mail, free weather, free social networks. It's easy for us to overlook that and take it for granted. If you shut off the data, you get to an unintended policy consequence that the Internet becomes more expensive for the consumer."
Mastria succeeds Peter Kosmala, who jumped to the 4As as senior vp of government relations in March.