Privacy – what the marketing industry needs to do next

One of the post election agenda items in Washington and Brussels is likely to be the privacy implications of sophisticated distribution and targeting technologies.

The industry (advertisers, media vendors, ISPs and agencies) needs to be in lock step as the future economics of the content and distribution infrastructure are largely dependent on the availability of addressable media. This benefit arises from the more effective management of inventory and the reduction of wastage that addressability brings and the consequent increase in the value of each impression to the advertiser and the increase in yield to the media owner / content producer.

The truth is that addressable media is only enabled when advertisers and content owners are able to deliver to IP addresses (cookie level) or individual set top boxes because this level of targeting value is orders of magnitude greater than targeting at zip or zip plus four level.

The purpose of regulation was to keep consumers out of harm’s way and  our industry has an exemplary record to date and that record is unimpeachable in respect of the largest advertisers, media owners and infrastructure companies. As a result we need to stick to hard rules preventing the use and security of personally identifiable information, hard penalties for the abuse of those rules but an absolute opposition to broader regulation that would profoundly damage the future of the content industry, the companies that distribute that content and the advertisers that fund it.

There has long been a covert contract between advertisers, content producers and consumers in which the consumer realizes that content is funded by advertisers and that without advertising, subscriptions would rise and / or content quality would fall. In the end it is my view that  addressability increases choice, relevance and consumer flexibility (time, device etc) and that regulation would create a cascade of unintended and unfortunate consequences.

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