IAB Recognizes MediaMath Across Sales, Identity, Data Privacy and Education

February 22, 2019 — by MediaMath0


Last week, MediaMath was honored with four awards at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. The recognition focused on our work across sales, identity, the GDPR and education—diverse areas of our business in which we are committed to making an impact not just at MediaMath, but in the industry as a whole. We wanted to share a bit about what we’re doing in each of these areas, and our plans to bolster our commitment throughout 2019.


MediaMath received an Overall Sales Excellence Award for a Small-to-Medium Sales Organization for “exceptional client service, digital advertising expertise and innovation in digital advertising sales.” IAB and Advertising Perceptions surveyed over 500 marketing leaders to nominate and vote on the winners.

MediaMath is committed in 2019 to continuing to use an enterprise-grade, consultative approach to help both brands and agencies use media, data and machine learning in a way that enables transformation at considerable scale. We believe we have both the tech and the talent to back this up. In the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Ad Tech, we were the leading DSP in the “Leaders” quadrant and were recognized for our completeness of vision and ability to execute. Advertiser Perceptions survey respondents also ranked MediaMath #1 in consultative approach to client relationship and solution design and gave us the highest net promoter score (NPS) out of 22 DSPs. Clients like CBSi are seeing the value of our multichannel media execution while others like REA are using our combined DMP+DSP to more seamlessly manage and activate audiences in media.


Our Director, Mobile Product Strategy, Floriana Nicastro received a Service Excellence Award for helping IAB establish a common framework for “5 Questions to Evaluate Your Identity Partners.” Floriana is passionate about solving measurement and identity challenges for mobile, pointing to accuracy vs. scale, walled gardens and a lack of multi-touch attribution as obstacles to quantifying true mobile ROI.

MediaMath has several initiatives we’re working on to ensure marketers can both accurately and scalably solve for identity and pull customer understanding into the center for activation across marketing. Our cross-device graph ConnectedID is pseudonymous, proprietary, deterministic-first (with option for probabilistic expansion) and global. Data is exportable down to the log level and can be used in other DMPs, DSPs and platforms so that marketers control their understanding of their customers and can activate it in whichever way they see fit. We are also a member of the DigiTrust ID consortium, which supports an open, neutral ID that will make the Internet experience better for consumers by supporting privacy, reducing page load time, increasing the relevance of marketing messages and enabling the diverse ecosystem of publishers and online platforms upon which they rely.


Charlie Simon, Director, Data Policy and Governance, received an IAB Tech Lab Service Excellence Award for his work in the GDPR Commit Group. The GDPR Commit Group, under the auspices of IAB Tech Lab, contributes to and maintains the code bases, technical specifications and implementation resources, underpinning the IAB Europe Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF) of which MediaMath is a founding member. Charlie has helped develop and champion the TCF to ensure the industry provides Internet users with greater transparency and control over how personal data is collected. TCF-based transparency and consent-based technologies are baked into DMP, DSP, identity and other core MediaMath products.

Charlie, with the assistance of Alice Lincoln, VP, Data Privacy and Governance, and John Slocum, VP, DMP, led MediaMath’s preparation for the GDPR, leveraging the expertise of the company’s Legal, Product and Engineering teams. Simultaneously, Charlie worked with industry groups and their members to assess and design solutions for the GDPR’s many requirements. That work continues as standards like the TCF and OpenRTB evolve, new laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act are enacted and Internet users’ concerns about data use grow.


MediaMath’s New Marketing Institute, led by Elise James-Decruise, VP, Global Learning & Development, Education, just celebrated its seventh birthday, and what a gift to have received one of the first-ever Education Excellence Awards from IAB. A client and employee education team that offers trainings and certification accessible in person, virtually and via a self-paced online portal, NMI courses cover topics across the programmatic and digital marketing industry and our DSP and DMP, from campaign management to best practices. A past recipient of both the Brandon Hall and Chief Learning Officer Learning in Practice awards, NMI has trained and certified over 19,000 people since inception.

NMI has undertaken a few new initiatives over the last year. The team created a learner-centered environment called NMI Learn that gives clients access to resources 24/7. NMI has also had recent training success with its Bid Masters program, a gamified approach to teaching digital and programmatic that has been rolled out in Asia. It is also looking to further develop curriculum, programs and partnerships to speed up the harvesting of the native marketing tech talent in countries like Mexico.


How MediaMath Contextual Powered by Oracle Creates Better Experiences for Marketers and Consumers

January 23, 2019 — by MediaMath0


Of the major challenges in buying media programmatically, marketers across the globe list brand safety as #2. To combat these concerns, 47 percent of marketers have increased their use of contextual targeting, with 29 percent more planning to do so. Launched in Q4 2018, MediaMath Contextual powered by Oracle is a pre-bid targeting solution that drives conversations with consumers and aligns brand messages when and where they are most relevant. With MediaMath Contextual powered by Oracle, marketers can expect a more accurate and faster solution, making topics available for targeting, or avoiding, within minutes.

We had a chance to catch up with Eric Rector, Head of Partner Management at Oracle Data Cloud, to learn more.

Q. Why did Oracle Data Cloud and MediaMath decide to work together to bring a contextual product to life?

A. Oracle Data Cloud and MediaMath have been working together for years to offer best-in-class solutions to digital advertisers. MediaMath and Oracle Data Cloud have found common ground in a commitment to understanding and respecting the customer, which serves as the foundation for what is now MediaMath powered by Oracle. By realizing early on how important it was to get pre-bid contextual targeting right for its clients, MediaMath has genuinely been able to leverage the power of Oracle Data Cloud. This places our two organizations in a perfect position in which to collaborate to bring this comprehensive contextual intelligence offering to life.

Q. What are the key differentiators of this product?

A. The industry-leading contextual intelligence technology from Oracle Data Cloud is truly a step above the rest.

  • Content defines relevance: This advanced contextual algorithm has a unique ability to look at the actual content on a webpage to influence decisions around relevance to a brand message. Where competing technologies wield heavy reliance on keyword indicators in the URL string to determine the context of the page, for example, MediaMath Contextual powered by Oracle goes deeper, examining things like word relationships and frequency to confidently and efficiently determine true context.
  • Pre-bid drives efficiency: It would be remiss if I did not highlight that MediaMath Contextual powered by Oracle is a pre-bid solution. The beauty of pre-bid is that it allows the marketer to avoid wasted spend by enabling the decision around targeting to take place before the bid transacts. Why pay for an unused placement?
  • Real-time decisions ensure accuracy: Today’s content ecosystem is continuously evolving. Just because a page was safe yesterday does not mean that is the case today. The real-time nature of MediaMath Contextual powered by Oracle is continuously re-categorizing to ensure targeting decisions are made based on the most relevant and up-to-date content out there.

Q. Why should marketers and agencies be excited about the release of MediaMath Contextual powered by Oracle?

A. Together, MediaMath and Oracle Data Cloud are committed to making the life of a marketer easier. So, in addition to providing a welcome space for advertising through contextual intelligence, we want to provide marketers with efficiency and accuracy in targeting, along with optimization of spend.

We understand that each brand is truly unique, so the ability to offer customization is something we hang our hat on. In the case of brand safety, for example, what is safe for one brand is not necessarily safe for another. We take this seriously and believe it provides real value for our customers.

Q. What makes YOU most excited about the launch?

A. Contextual intelligence is an exciting and high-growth area for programmatic, and it is only becoming more relevant. The opportunity to collaborate with MediaMath and bring this contextual offering to market is the first of many successful endeavors as we dive further into our “Super Friendship” with MediaMath. That is very exciting indeed.

Q. Now that MediaMath Contextual powered by Oracle has been released, what’s next for the relationship?

A. Last year was a defining one for the Oracle Data Cloud and MediaMath relationship, and we are excited to see what successes 2019 brings. We are currently working together to bring new data types to our joint pre-bid solution. This variety in data types will better enable our mutual customers to make intelligent decisions before the bid occurs.

Q. What are both the big challenges and the big opportunities you think marketers will face in 2019?

A. One of the significant challenges that marketers will continue to face in 2019 is the navigation surrounding the use of first-party data, as well as the implications of regulations that impact the ability for brands to reach their ideal customer. This is also a great opportunity, however, as MediaMath Contextual powered by Oracle lends itself exceptionally well to this environment due to its cookie-free nature. This allows marketers to continue to effectively reach consumers without disrupting the integrity of their campaigns.

Check out the MediaMath Contextual powered by Oracle page for more information.

Cassie Albee is a Sr. Manager of Product Marketing working closely with the Product team to launch audience, data and identity products that are integrated into every part of MediaMath’s technology stack. She focuses primarily on positioning and communicating the value of these products and how they make the marketer’s and agency’s job easier. Cassie lives in New York City, but originally hails from Massachusetts. As such, she is a die-hard Patriots fan, despite the heckling she receives on a daily basis.

Eric Rector is Head of Partner Management for Oracle Data Cloud where he focuses on ensuring the growth and overall success of our enterprise solutions among our channel partners. Prior to joining the Oracle Data Cloud team, he was Director of Publisher Development at Undertone, implementing the organization’s first-ever guaranteed publisher contracts, securing millions of dollars’ worth of publisher inventory. Eric brings more than 10 years of deep industry expertise and relationship management to Oracle Data Cloud, holding previous positions at Digital First Media as the director of sales, and Cox Digital Solutions, plus notable roles at PubMatic and Microsoft—each one highlighting a track record of high-growth initiatives and success.


The Real State of Consumer-First and Omnichannel Marketing By the Numbers

December 6, 2018 — by MediaMath0


In September, we released Dream vs. Reality: The Real State of Consumer-First and Omnichannel Marketing, our research in partnership with Econsultancy that assessed the gap between marketers’ desire to deliver compelling, privacy-compliant experiences and what they’re actually doing in practice. Econsultancy surveyed more than 400 global marketers about everything from adtech and martech integration to AI and shared the results in a 36-page report. For anyone who hasn’t read the report or is short on time, we’ve distilled the main highlights into a one-page infographic we’ve released today.

Download the infographic to find out:

  • The gap between how many marketers see the importance of putting the consumer first and how many actually are
  • The benefits integrated tech could bring to marketing
  • The least important benefit of integrated tech, according to respondents


Identity Resolution Explained

December 5, 2018 — by Laura Carrier0


Customer data and identity resolution are complex. Clients I work with are often confused about which different types of data are available. They wonder which solution sets they should be exploring and on which capabilities they need to focus. So, let’s start with the basics. What types of customer data are out there?

  • Anonymous: Here you process data with the aim of irreversibly preventing an ID from being attached to the individual to whom the data belongs. Data becomes anonymized when there’s no way to identify the individual behind the data—even if you add more data.
  • Pseudonymous: In this case, you replace any identifying characteristics of data with a pseudonym. For example, a consumer might appear in the system as “AB1234.”
  • Personally identifiable: This is data that could potentially identify a specific individual, distinguishing one person from another. Either this data identifies the person, or you can identify them by combining this data with other data.

So, what does identity resolution look like in real-world examples?

Let’s say that I shop with Company X.  If I walk into the Company X store and pay cash, I do not provide any information. So, the company can’t identify me in any way. It will record my transaction, but it will be completely anonymous; the store has no way of understanding anything about me.

But imagine I browsed the Company X website on my laptop without logging in or purchasing anything. Then Company X would likely be able to identify me pseudonymously by the cookie trail that I leave as I browse through its website.

The brand can’t connect that browsing behavior to me personally. But it does have an identifier (a cookie). It also may have a set of identifiers (cookie, device ID, IP address, etc.). It can use those identifiers to connect behaviors, context and information about me pseudonymously.

Finally, let’s say I decide to buy something from the Company X website. I log in to its website using my email. I also decide to provide my name, home address and phone number, so that they can ship me the items I purchased. The brand now has a robust set of personally identifiable information on me (email, first name, last name, home address, phone number).

Welcome to the world of identity resolution. Here, marketers try to keep track of disparate signals about a consumer and resolve them as much as possible into a single identity. That’s how you build a single view of each consumer.

But, the aggregation, storage, access and uses for the separate types of information are different. That means the solutions for the data are also different. Anonymous data by nature is only useful for reporting. You can’t use it for targeting or marketing activation. You can use pseudonymous data for marketing measurement (connect all sales for, say, a cookie to marketing sent to that cookie). But, you can also use it for optimization (making smarter marketing decisions based on real-time customer behaviors) and activation (targeting on digital marketing channels using cookies, device ID, etc.).

You can use personally identifiable information in most of the same use cases as pseudonymous data. But regulations and laws limit what companies can do for measurement (connecting online marketing to offline sales) and activation without a consumer’s expressed approval

In the next post, we’ll look at the actual technical solutions that marketers use to aggregate, connect and profile customer data. We’ll examine how they can activate data for personalized, targeted marketing outreach, as well as how the worlds of pseudonymous and personally identifiable play separately and together.


Identity Questions for 2019 and Beyond

December 3, 2018 — by MediaMath0


Personalized marketing depends on the ability to identify consumers. But how marketers go about identifying consumers is complex in today’s ecosystem. An Advertising Week panel led by MediaMath VP of strategic business development Ellie Windle pondered this topic. With an eye to changes in 2019, panelists discussed the GDPR, connected TV and the dynamic nature of establishing identity. The panel included Michele McCray-Howard, director, media partner solutions at Macy’s; Molly Parr senior director, data platform product management for Disney DTC; and Wendy Verschoor, product manager at Akamai Technologies.

Regarding the GDPR, Parr said, “I probably spend 40 percent of my time talking to privacy and legal. Everything needs to be put through that gauntlet and the lens of ‘Will our guests be happy?’” Parr said the holy grail is to please both guests and advertisers.

Meanwhile, the topic of connected TV came up several times. Panelists noted a shift in media consumption in which viewers are seeing TV as a source of on-demand content rather than as a broadcast medium.

“Identity can help you serve better content and ensure that where you’re buying your spots is where you want to be,” said McCray-Howard. “What we’ve been learning from our tech partners recently is you could be buying on network and then find out you’re on a kids’ TV show.” McCray-Howard said better data will prevent the serving of ads to inappropriate audiences.

Another conundrum for marketers is how to establish identities across platforms. Parr said a common misconception is that identity isn’t static. “We don’t go out and figure out identity and we’re done,” she said. “It’s a constantly trained model.”


The Midterm Elections and Adtech: Let’s Engage

November 16, 2018 — by Daniel Sepulveda0


I assume that most people who work in our sector worry about their country, kids and neighbors during elections. As it relates to work, they worry much more about product development and sale, client relationships, quarterly returns and a market strategy to win the future than they do about how politics and policy affect our prospects. But repercussions for us abound and they are not well understood due to the everyday pressures of running companies and competing in a complex marketplace.

We have to step up our engagement and better articulate and evolve our role in society and markets. We have to inform and assist policymakers in tackling governing challenges relatively new to them, from privacy to competition in digital markets to immigration. Doing so successfully is critical to our ability to continue to grow and thrive responsibly with the support and guidance of citizens, consumers and their representatives.

At MediaMath, we view our advocacy efforts on law and policy as a cooperative joint problem-solving exercise with policymakers. We do not reflexively oppose new law or regulation. Though we believe the ideas embedded in laws in Europe and California need modification and work, we do not attack their efforts to construct baseline rules for data use and protection. We fully understand that people all over the world are asking both market leaders and politicians to rise to the challenge of governing our digital society, and we want to be part of the solution.

Policymakers have struggled from the internet’s inception with everything from how it is changing the way we work and learn to the degree to which it can be leveraged to harm or help us. Constructing a set of policies, law and regulation to give people a sense of job security, consumer protection and control over their lives and information in the digital age is a central governing question for any serious politician. This new Congress and the coming presidential campaigns will struggle with these questions as well.

There are a number of hot takes on what the midterm elections mean for the tech sector at large as a matter of politics and policy. Axios’ David Mc Cabe wrote that “Tuesday’s midterm results will shake up the congressional committees responsible for keeping tabs on the tech industry, setting the stage for new legislation taking direct aim at companies like Google and Facebook.” Others agree with that analysis. Politico reports that both Democrats and Republicans will pursue new privacy legislation, though they say the chances of it passing are small due to bad blood between the parties and the upcoming focus on the next presidential election.

At MediaMath—and, I suspect, at most of the small and medium-sized tech companies that work in this space—we have nothing against Google and Facebook, nor are we their protectors. But as Congress considers bringing these giants to heel, we have to inform policymakers on how any shot taken at them through privacy law or other measures could inadvertently hit the smaller companies in adtech like ours and maybe even entrench the giants politicians seek to tame. Which isn’t to say that new law is not necessary. It’s only to say that it should be carefully constructed and incorporate the views of as many stakeholders as possible. And as Democrats take the House, we have to articulate the value of the advertising-supported internet for people with limited means to access services and information without having to dig into their pockets for a subscription for every website.

We listen for signals from consumers in the marketplace. One of the sources of signal is how their elected representatives express their views of what we do. Adtech is a subset of the larger technology sector and has a unique set of interests. Our business and industry are disproportionately dependent on access to the open internet and the data that is transmitted over it through digital devices from laptops to smartphones to smart TVs.

We can work with policymakers to construct privacy law that gives consumers greater control over their information, penalizes predatory or harmful practices and ensures that consumers are involved in an informed, fair value exchange for access to their data, time and attention. Beyond that, we can work with policymakers to ensure that the internet remains a tool for the small democratization of discourse and commerce. And, lastly, we can and should work to make the digital dividends we are reaping as a sector more accessible and inclusive of more of America. These midterms were not about us, but the new leadership will affect us. Let’s engage.


Tis the Season to Infuse Your Campaigns with the Right Holiday Data

November 12, 2018 — by Emera Trujillo0


The holiday season is fast approaching, which makes it the perfect time of year to focus on your audience strategy. As your creative team crafts holiday assets, aligning audiences that complement your business goals will ensure your marketing efforts yield great results throughout the season.

Already busy with holiday traffic on site and in-app? Maximize your learnings from recent purchases to reach those customers most likely to buy additional products and services. Marketing efforts that focus on increasing second orders can yield 1.8x increase in purchase frequency, driving significant ROI. Use browsing and conversion data to build audiences composed of people who have made recent purchases, but are still shopping for related products, and reach them with upsell messaging.

Building on the theme of leveraging signals from people who have made recent purchases, another way to extend the utility of your sales data are lookalike models. Powered by predictive modeling, lookalike audiences use key signals from your best customers to find people who exhibit similar interests and behaviors. Lookalike audiences can fuel prospecting efforts and lead to more efficient conversion KPIs. For instance, tactics driven by MediaMath Audiences lookalike models can yield 52% lower CPAs compared to traditional prospecting tactics.

If there’s one audience to make sure you reach during the holidays, it’s your highest-value prospects that have yet to convert. In retail or direct-to-consumer products, that means shoppers with high-value items in their carts that haven’t converted; in travel, that will be browsers who have visited a vacation package several times in the past week but haven’t booked; and in high-end consumer electronics, that audience will make multiple visits to a product details page but not complete a purchase. Whether you exclusion-target your site and app conversions or add logic to your audience segments to avoid converters, reaching these ready-to-purchase prospects is a cornerstone of every holiday audience strategy.

No site pixels or app tracking? Not a problem. Work with the data you do have—the people you’ve reached via recent or currently flighted campaign impression exposure and clicks on creatives. Further your reach by building an audience that has been exposed to at least one of your campaign impressions but hasn’t clicked on any of your creatives. These types of audiences—based on media exposure alone—can be effective tools to reach people at your ideal frequency, without risking creative fatigue. MediaMath Adaptive Segments let you set minimum and maximum frequencies at the creative level so you can automatically flight your creatives to the right audience at the right time.

Holiday campaigns are a great opportunity to make the most of your data and build audiences that drive real business outcomes.


Come Tuesday, It’s Time to Vote

October 31, 2018 — by Daniel Sepulveda0


“The right to vote is precious and almost sacred, and one of the most important blessings of our democracy.” – Congressman John Lewis

John Lewis is a Congressman and an icon of the Civil Rights movement in America.  He was beaten and jailed in the 1960s fighting to ensure that every citizen had the right to exercise his or her vote.  Many others, representing every race, religion, ethnicity and political viewpoint, have paid the highest price in war or service to the nation to protect that right.

We honor their sacrifice and further the American experiment this coming Tuesday by voting.

As Joe announced to the MediaMath team last week, we have joined a nonpartisan consortium of companies giving their employees Time to Vote.  This commitment to enabling each of us to participate in our democracy is one of the many reasons we are all proud to work here.

The elections on Tuesday are called “midterm elections” because they occur in the two years between presidential election cycles.  They tend not to elicit the same level of interest and engagement as presidential elections.  As a result, less than 40 percent of eligible voters turned out for the midterms last time.

But elections have consequences and, on Tuesday, voters will decide who governs many of our states and the makeup of our Congress.  The outcome will determine, and communicate to your fellow Americans and to the world, where it is that we stand on a number of key issues.

These are contentious times.  We are in many ways a nation divided.  Voting, choosing our leaders to represent our interests and ideas and then supporting and participating in the process by which those leaders make decisions is how we peacefully resolve our differences.

Because most of us who work at MediaMath in the United States are relatively prosperous and lucky compared to our fellow humans in other parts of the world, we may take our system for granted. But we shouldn’t.  Governing a country as large and diverse as ours is hard.  Our leaders cannot do it alone, and they need the legitimacy that comes from having had the people in their states and districts choose them to lead us.

Over the next two years, the people that we send to office on Tuesday will have to deliberate and make decisions on how we want our government to function, the role we want it to play in our personal lives and in the economy.  In an increasingly unpredictable world, they may also have to make decisions on war and peace.  These are the issues that will most concern you and your families.

As it relates to our company and industry, the coming Congress will deliberate issues that will directly impact our success.  They will examine and deliberate how to govern our digital economy, focusing on issues ranging from data privacy to competition.  Because we are a global company, we will also follow closely what Congress decides to do on immigration and trade.  There are strong candidates running in multiple races on both sides of the aisle.  We are not telling you how to vote.  We are simply asking that you go out and exercise your right to cast one.


Dan Rosenberg Talks to TechBytes on Consumer-First Marketing

October 25, 2018 — by MediaMath0


Last month, we published a report with Econsultancy called “The State of Consumer-First and Omnichannel Marketing” that surveyed more than 400 marketers from around the world on everything from AI to GDPR compliance. A big focus of the report was on how marketers are aspiring to, but falling short of delivering, true consumer-first experiences that both respect privacy and delight with coordinated, cohesive messages across channels and devices. Dan Rosenberg, our chief marketing & strategy officer, recently talked to TechBytes editor Sudipto Ghosh on our research and how marketers can make martech-adtech integration a goal for 2019.

Why did you decide to publish the report “The State of Consumer-First and Omnichannel Marketing?”

We decided to call out our consumer-first philosophy as a market theme at the start of this year as we saw the rise of adblocking, mistrust of advertising and impending GDPR legislation as symptoms that we are not delivering the best advertising experiences to consumers. We believe that consumers can love marketing again, but first we need to understand what is turning them off from the ads they see and figure out how to both respect them with the right approach to identity and data privacy and delight them with personalized experiences coordinated across channels and devices at the right frequency and sequence, accounting for their recent and past behaviors and actions. Our report, in partnership with Econsultancy, examines how global marketers are responding to this dual challenge and opportunity so we can help them identify how to rise to the occasion to put consumers first.

Why should a CMO read the report? How does it help CMOs build or buy a technology stack?

CMOs should first read the report because the respondents that took the survey are their peers — more than half are senior-level marketers from around the world. It’s a true window into how their peers are thinking about marketing best practices, media channels, identity, omnichannel and emerging opportunities such as artificial intelligence.

The report can help them plan key functions by highlighting the gaps in their current technology stack. We consistently found in the results that marketers want to do so much more but are being held back from being able to execute. For instance, the ability to dynamically segment audiences was identified by 67% of respondents as one of the top three capabilities they hope to have over the next five years when it comes to improving the advertising experience for consumers. But they are not actually prioritizing the data quality improvements or technology integration required to enable this capability — reduced data loss and latency ranked lowest in the report when it comes to the perceived benefits of integrated technology. Dynamic segmentation through an integrated platform lets you connect the right message to the right consumer more quickly and seamlessly across touchpoints. In general, any data loss, which can occur when data management is siloed from media buying, decreases the accuracy of audience segments, often resulting in consumers being shown an ad for something obviously irrelevant to them or, on the other extreme, something they already bought — one of the reasons for their frustration with advertising.

What metric should one rely on to decide on the ‘satisfaction level’ of technology for Marketing and Advertising?

Our mission is to empower marketers to delight their customers and drive real business outcomes. The metrics will be different depending on their goals, but we commit to helping marketers identify the true KPIs that will drive true outcomes such as sales.

Read the full interview here.


IAPP Opinion Piece on Lessons Learned from the GDPR and CCPA for Congress

October 22, 2018 — by Daniel Sepulveda0


This piece originally appears on the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) website. 

The United States Senate Commerce Committee, as part of a series of public hearings it is holding on privacy, heard the call for a new national data protection and privacy law from industry a few weeks ago. It heard it again more recently from privacy advocates.

The conversation now is about the shape that law should take.

To inform that goal, the Committee’s hearing with consumer advocates examined lessons learned from the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the new California Consumer Privacy Act. These laws constitute a sincere effort on the part of policymakers to empower consumers and update law for the digital age. We support that effort and welcome the conversation, hard thinking, and debate that these new laws have engendered around the world. It is a good and just cause.

Respectfully, however, we believe that building on those laws, iterating on those ideas, taking what’s good, and redesigning the rest, Congress can do better by consumers and the digital economy. New law should ensure that the consumer has a right to fair treatment and legal protection from unreasonable data practices. She should know and control who in the ecosystem gets access to her data, the volume of data they hold, and the way they use and distribute that data. Law and self-regulation should not leave consumers to their own devices in a complex marketplace for data. What the GDPR and CCPA have gotten right is the need to place the consumer at the center of the digital ecosystem. Now, we need legislators to support the Federal Trade Commission with the power and resources to enforce consumer rights in the digital age.

But both the GDPR and CCPA have in their construct either left some problematic ambiguity or built some rules on mistaken assumptions that Congress should consider and correct in the construction of new U.S. federal legislation.

The free-rider challenge

In the GDPR and CCPA, there is a central question for the providers of advertising-supported services as to what they can or should do if a consumer chooses to reject behavioral advertising. Both the GDPR and CCPA argue that a consumer opposed to interest-based advertising should suffer no penalty as a result of that decision. The outstanding question is what constitutes a penalty and whether or not the consumer should be allowed to use the service without payment.

The CCPA posits that a service provider cannot deny a service on the basis of a consent choice — but it can make up the monetization lost through some other form of compensation. Interpretation of the GDPR and the construction of Europe’s draft ePrivacy Regulation have not made the European definition of penalty clear yet.

The CCPA concept is good in the sense that it recognizes that the provision of services is not free and that service providers have a right to require some form of compensation if they cannot monetize through advertising. But by stating that the service provider can only charge in an amount equal to that of the data lost, the CCPA creates a form of rate regulation that will be tough to understand, quantify, and police. Further, unless the service is a necessary utility, the service provider should not be forced to provide services to anyone. While access to the internet may be considered a utility, necessity, or human right, it is not true that access to all the services made available over the Internet falls into that category as well.

Read the rest of the article on the IAPP website here.