While the coronavirus pandemic has taken up much of the news cycle over the last several months, privacy regulators haven’t exactly been standing still. More aggressive privacy legislation has been filed this summer, the European Union’s Court of Justice invalidated data sharing framework between the U.S. and the E.U., the CCPA took effect July 1 and the CCPA 2.0 goes to a vote this fall.
With all that action as the backdrop, data privacy experts virtually gathered at Adweek’s NexTech 2020 Virtual Summit to discuss the future of ad tech in the U.S. and around the world.
On Thursday, Kinesso global chief responsibility and public policy officer Sheila Colclasure and Acxiom chief data ethics officer Jordan Abbott joined Adweek’s Stuart Feil to talk about where brands are losing consumer trust when it comes to personal data collection, and how to win that trust back.
Colclasure started the conversation by defining the fundamental purpose of advertising as connecting people with brands. “Brands always want to do this, connecting in meaningful, valuable ways that support trust in the brand.”
With that as the starting point, Colclasure then highlighted the importance of the current moment—not just the busyness of the recent privacy news cycle, but the rapidly progressing technological and digital landscape.
As advertisers, Colclasure said, “We’re in the crosshairs of legislation regulation and accusation. And there continues to be a race to innovate, to be digital and for people to do that connecting where people are. People are digital.”
And while that race to innovate has introduced new challenges, it’s crucial that advertisers remember that behind each site visit, click, stream or app download is a real person.
She also acknowledged, however, that there’s a fair amount of conflation in the conversations around data privacy. Oftentimes, many of the problems generated by rapid innovation, “such as surf security breach cybersecurity hacking and all of that,” gets conflated with advertising.
Still, there are some basic rules that advertisers can employ to ensure that consumer trust is maintained—above and beyond the legal requirements, which should always be seen as a baseline, the panelists agreed.
“The best thing that advertisers can do to demonstrate accountability is to implement an ethical data use framework that runs through the entire data management lifecycle,” said Jordan Abbott. “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. We need to be thinking long and hard about whether this particular use of this data is necessary.”
And when you do make a decision on data use, document that decision. When you can, embed your controls into the code so that it’s automatically enforced.
Abbott also stressed the importance of engaging with policymakers on privacy legislation as it is being developed, and advised the industry to start preparing for regulations that it’s not going to like.
Colclasure added that brands should try to be “outperforming privacy” before these regulations take effect. Like any relationship, that kind of trust-building will serve brands in the long run, she said.