Ethical Adtech

by iotec on 13th July 2018

The Information Commissioner’s inquiry into political digital marketing has thrust consumer privacy back into the headlines this week, with both Facebook and parenting website Emma’s Diary being issued with substantial fines and PR headaches.

Now the role of data brokers is under scrutiny, with major news outlets writing about the sorts of businesses usually confined to the trade press.

Following up on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the BBC has been unpicking the role of businesses like Acxiom, Experian, Lifecyle Marketing, CACI and Data8.

Although this is exclusively about political marketing, it once again shines a light on the use of data in online advertising more generally, so the wider industry – only concerned with using the same techniques to flog products – might feel nervous.

Paul Wright, CEO of media buying platform Iotec – who has previously called for ethical change in adtech – told Mediatel the industry needs to take responsibility for where it is going. “Political digital marketing is in the spotlight and the ‘shady’ practices surrounding it, but the reality is that some of these practices extend across all sectors, let’s not pretend otherwise,” he says.

The growing media attention is not going to go away, Wright adds, particularly as in Europe we now have GDPR, which can levy much more significant fines than the ICO could do with Facebook (and that might have happened had the misuse happened while GDPR was in law).

However, Wright says he sees this moment as an opportunity for the industry to get on the front foot and explain to consumers what their data is being used for, the benefits for them and the benefits for the ecosystem, as well as a clean up of the digital ecosystem where good practice is rewarded and bad players are named.

“It is heartening to see initiatives like those from the WFA, IAB and ISBA to challenge how things are being done to instigate real change,” he says.

“Ultimately success here comes down to two key things – a drive to be transparent in data usage and secondly, for brands to stand up and action best practice in these areas.

“Those who respect data, its value, and its ownership, rather than those who seek to commoditise it, will ultimately triumph with all of us.”

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