By Lou Mastria
[Photo: DAA Executive Director opens Publishers’ Roundtable panel at DAA Summit 2015. Seated left to right: Clark Rector, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, American Advertising Federation; Michael Hauser, Assistant General Counsel, Turner Broadcasting System (CNN); Kyle McCarthy, Co-Founder and Editor, Family Travel Forum; Patricia Neuray, Vice President, Sales, TRUSTe; and Sal Tripi, Assistant Vice President, Digital Operations & Compliance, Publishers Clearing House and PCH.com.]
Big idea: As consumers embrace multiple platforms, the online publishing world evolves to engage site visitors with trust, control and transparency.
Publishers of all sizes took the main stage at the recent Digital Advertising Alliance Summit 2015 to discuss the role of responsible data collection in providing relevant content on their sites, both editorially and in advertising. Adhering to DAA Principles, they agreed, is essential to engender and bolster consumer trust.
“In our company we have democratized the approach to consumer protection and privacy,” said Michael Hauser, assistant general counsel for Turner Broadcasting System, the owner of CNN and other brands. Hauser noted that Turner has a cross-functional team that regularly meets to discuss privacy and information security.
Kyle McCarthy, co-founder and editor for Family Travel Forum, a niche travel site for family travel planning, noted that as a small publisher most of the privacy issues, as well as customer service, fall to her staff. “Consumers are happy to send us a lot of their personally identifiable information in order to get better vacation planning help,” said McCarthy. As a result, her organization is careful with how they handle this information, taking steps to ensure data security. For the advertisers on her site, most of which are provided for by third-party networks, she relies on programs such as the DAA to keep data collection in step with consumer expectations, she said.
“Most companies are trying to do the right thing in regard to privacy but they are often resource- and budget-constrained, said Patricia Neuray, vice president of sales at TRUSTe, an Approved DAA Provider. “The most successful privacy programs are more cross-functional. It can’t just be the privacy department that is responsible for best practices; it has to be an engagement across multiple departments.” [Editor’s Note: Ghostery is also an Approved DAA Provider.]
Sal Tripi, assistant vice president of digital operations and compliance at Publishers Clearing House and PCH.com, noted that the privacy team at his organization used to be centrally located, but as technology has evolved the company pushed privacy into the various business units of their organization. “We have gone through this evolutionary process of education and bringing it [privacy] forward so that it’s not centralized, and it’s now permeated throughout the entire organization,” he said.
The Publishing Business Model in Flux
Moderator Clark Rector, executive vice president of government affairs for the American Advertising Federation and a DAA Board member asked, “How have you seen the publishing business model change, and how has your own company’s model changed?”
“In our business it’s all about moving from linear into the digital space, and how you get our content in front of the consumers, and increasingly that is through mobile and other digital devices,” Hauser said. “Our challenges are how to get that content delivered to the consumers through these multiple platforms, and also how to now layer on top of that the advertising infrastructure that is available for the web and mobile platforms.” Hauser also noted that privacy and information protection remains a concern which the company is vigilant to address.
McCarthy noted her own evolution story with Family Travel Forum, which began as a subscriber-only print newsletter and then to an ad-supported Web site with both editorial and sponsored content. She stated that one of the greatest challenges her organization faces is keeping the same informative tone across all channels, while maintaining privacy and integrating advertising. “We have come to rely on the ad networks and on associations like the DAA to keep them [advertisers] straight, we have no way of policing it we are just too small,” McCarthy said. “We try to do the right thing by our readers to they can understand what’s sponsored and what’s not.”
Tripi noted that with a changing business model, everyone from consumers to advertisers has rising expectations. “This is a challenging environment, how to balance each of these; to give a good relevant experience, to have a positive interaction with the advertisers, while maintaining and protecting data,” Tripi said. “To us what’s paramount is maintaining trust with our users, and making sure they feel comfortable giving us data, that we will use it responsibly to deliver them a relevant experience, but safe guard that data as well.”
Neuray commented that consumers are becoming more technology savvy, and are much more likely to be aware of interest-based advertising. “The key is building that trust, and letting people know why and how you are collecting that info and how it will be used. Consumers are more likely to be engaged with you,” said Neuray.
Data Privacy Always a Priority
“Do publishers think data privacy is important to their business?” questioned Rector.
“It has to be because we are all in an environment where big data is governing the world,” Hauser said. “There is also pressure to deliver content in a more personalized way.” He noted that in order to enhance business and leverage consumer data, privacy must be a concern throughout. “You have to think about how to protect that data, or else the regulators will help you think about it, for you.”
Neuray noted that publishers place high importance on data and privacy management. “Businesses want to do the right thing but if they don’t have the resources or can’t make the business case for it, they are often thinking one thing but actually doing something very different,” she said.
Data Best Practices Are Also Changing
Rector asked, “Talk about how your companies are implementing data privacy measures. In the industry have you seen companies using different ways of addressing this?”
“One of the most aggressive things we have taken on is data minimization and purging of data,” said Tripi. He noted that relevancy of data changes quickly, as consumers age and vary their interests. As a result Tripi said, “We were able to reduce the liability of carrying so much data, and we also made our systems faster and more nimble.”
“Privacy by design is being incorporated in companies’ DNA,” Neuray said. Companies are making sure to look at privacy throughout the lifecycle of a product, rather than it being more of an afterthought.
“Over the five years of the DAA existence, this [data privacy] has become more of a routinized process,” Hauser said. “People see the [DAA] Icon, and understand that something is going on behind the scenes…Privacy and security aspects are being baked in at the beginning, in a way that hadn’t been the case five years ago, and that is due in part to actions like the DAA Icon and the increasing overall market understanding of what that is about.”
“Even though the icon is ubiquitous you are not seeing a lot of opting out, people engage with the icon and see it but they are not opting out,” Hauser said.
The panel of large and small publishers summed up changes in the industry, and how their businesses are dealing with consumer data protection, through trust and transparency. DAA Principles are an essential part of this mission.