The SOURCE Pursuit of Trust in Advertising Through Transparency and Accountability

February 14, 2020 — by Daniel Sepulveda    

Accessing consumer information and using that access to deliver advertising is rightfully dependent on increasingly stronger standards of transparency and consumer control. Over the last two years, we have taken steps within our platform and with our partners, through our trade associations, and in public advocacy to drive change in that direction. We have engaged commercial and non-commercial stakeholders in good faith to understand, evolve, and rise to the demands of consumers, browsers, and policymakers for greater accountability.

As a significant part of that effort, we have imposed increasingly strict guardrails on what data is allowed in our systems and how we, our partners, and our clients can use it. We believe we can do as much or more for advertisers with less personal data than previously thought necessary. For example, we have higher restrictions on the use of location data than many of our competitors. Additionally, more than a year ago, we stopped “fingerprinting” because we felt it was no longer consistent with evolving privacy norms and our consumer-first vision.

We have also worked to set increasingly higher standards for our industry by helping our trade associations strengthen their self-regulatory codes and develop policies and tools to support compliance with them. We played a leadership role in developing and currently chair the Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF), which gives European consumers users visibility into and control over the companies that may process their data and the purposes for which they may do so. As a Board member of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), we have supported and encouraged the evolution of the NAI Code to expand its scope and heighten its requirements. The 2020 NAI Code, for example, now covers the use of offline data for tailored advertising, requires opt-in consent for the use of precise location data for ad delivery and reporting, and raises the bar on what it means to obtain high-quality opt-in consent. We also worked closely with the NAI to develop their recently released guidance on health-related ad targeting.

We embrace the principle that consumers must be able to know and control whether or not they are engaging in the value exchange of content and services for information. As the digital advertising industry works to rearchitect its consumer engagement tactics and tools, we will work with our colleagues to ensure that accountability mechanisms and governance are embedded in any replacement for the cookie.

This is no easy task because the advertising supply chain is more complex than most people realize. When a person sits in front of a computer to access ad-supported services, they interact with far more companies than are visible to them. The internet service provider connecting their device to the internet, their device’s operating system, the browser they use to move around the internet, the search engine they use to find a website, the website they visit, the supply-side platforms that aggregate that website’s advertising space and inventory with that of other websites, the demand-side platform that aggregates buyers to bid on that inventory, and, finally, the advertiser that wins that bid all get some kind of access to the consumer’s data. Providing for accountability and transparency across that supply chain is difficult but absolutely necessary.

We have worked hard to restructure the way our people, organization, and partnerships interact to evolve our products and services for a new age. The result of that two-year reengineering effort is SOURCE by MediaMath, a marketing platform of aligned firms and services bound by values, respect for people’s data, and a commitment to delivering transparent, accountable, and addressable advertising to reach real people on real media. We are proud of it, believe it is setting a new standard for the ecosystem, and look forward to continually and iteratively working to improve on it. We look forward to working with friends and skeptics alike to exchange ideas in good faith in an effort to ensure that the digital economy works in a way that all stakeholders can embrace.

Daniel Sepulveda

As SVP for Policy and Advocacy, Danny Sepulveda joined MediaMath after spending two decades in public service, including work at the highest levels of the US government. In the Obama administration, Danny served as Ambassador and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. State Department under Secretary of State John Kerry, where he traveled the world working on high-level initiatives including cyber policy, digital economy, internet governance and human rights. Prior to that, he worked as a senior aide to three US Senators, including then Senators Barack Obama and John Kerry. Danny’s role at MediaMath is focused on shaping, implementing and communicating MediaMath’s policies and practices around the consumer value proposition, privacy protection and public policy.