Last week, we had the pleasure of representing MediaMath at the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) Member Summit. The NAI staff did an incredible job of hosting and educating members of the ad tech ecosystem while facilitating thought-provoking dialogue. Despite new European regulations, and increased scrutiny of online advertising due to the ongoing Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story, we left the Summit with a clarity of purpose. The NAI’s message was clear: the digital advertising industry must demonstrate to consumers and policymakers that we believe in what we do, recognize we can do better, and want to engage in a meaningful dialogue with policy advocates, Internet users and their elected representatives about data protection.
We had the privilege to participate in two panels. One addressed consumer sentiment toward interest-based advertising. We face a mandate to modernize and mature our technology and practices to ensure consumers’ digital dignity, preferences and experiences are upheld and improved. This mandate is the foundation of our Consumer-First vision, and we are implementing it throughout our products, partnerships and alliances. The message we are taking to policymakers is that we hear consumers, we know they want more transparency and control and we are working to provide them with it.
The other panel explored the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and adtech’s innovative response to it. MediaMath is working overtime with industry peers and competitors, as well as advertiser clients and publishers, to construct a transparency and choice framework, designed to address certain requirements of the GDPR. Importantly, doing so forces us to better digital advertising’s value proposition to consumers everywhere.
Throughout the day, we heard from other industry experts who discussed important legal, policy and technical issues, including the state of data protection and politics in the United States. The panelists emphasized that while legislation governing the digital economy is not imminent, attitudes may change following November’s midterm elections. Accordingly, now is not the time to wait and see; instead, we must seize this moment to educate legislators and their staffs in Washington, DC about our industry and the value we provide to consumers and content creators.
Our colleagues emphasized that ad tech and the digital economy could face more immediate threats from states’ well-intentioned desires to enact privacy protections where Congress has failed to act. Such regulations could make it much more difficult, if not impossible, for ad tech to continue supporting the free and open Internet we all love. A splintered digital economy is in no one’s interests, so the industry should work with Congress on comprehensive legislation that upholds consumers’ rights to privacy and security while meeting publishers’ need to monetize their content. Pressure from the states, combined with the GDPR’s long shadow, could push the federal government to think more seriously about what an American answer to Internet governance, including privacy rights and data protection standards, should look like.
We believe that the NAI is well positioned to lead our industry forward towards a fairer future for all participants. The NAI leadership, including its Board of Directors, of which MediaMath is a member, does not shy away from the challenges facing the industry. These are times that call for reflection, action, a sense of joint purpose and a commitment to do better by the consumer and better inform the public of our efforts. We at MediaMath will do what we can to contribute to a better future. We thank our friends at the NAI for letting us be a part of the team.