The modern era and digitalization have caused many issues around user data and privacy. And although users never seem to give consent for collecting and then selling their data, why do they tend to see so many ads tailored specifically for them?
Advertisers and companies claim that user data helps them offer a better customer experience. But the truth is, it opens the door to many questions concerning internet privacy, and users don’t feel confident giving out their information to third parties. At the end of the day, we’re obliged to accept the cookies on each website we visit, and no one reads the fine print on pop-ups.
In the newest episode of Infutor’s Identity Revolution podcast, Cory Davis welcomes Anthony Katsur, Chief Executive Officer of IAB Tech Lab. During their discussion, they get into concerns around user data and privacy online, balancing privacy and customer experience, the benefits of an ad-supported internet, and the future of data businesses.
- Name: Anthony “Tony” Katsur
- What he does: Tony is the CEO of IAB Tech Lab
- Company: IAB Tech Lab
- Noteworthy: As CEO of IAB Tech Lab, a non-profit R&D consortium that focuses on solutions for brand safety, ad fraud, identity, data, and consumer privacy. Tony has 25 years of experience in AdTech and media. He spent four years at Nextar, two years at Sonobi, and two years at the Rubicon Project, among other reputable companies in the field.
- Where to find Anthony: Twitter | LinkedIn | Email
- It’s critical to provide an ad-supported and cost-effective internet. According to Tony, a cost-effective and ad-supported internet could offer a better experience to consumers as it would allow information to flow more freely. “I think ad-supported or ad-subsidized, free or cost-effective internet is absolutely critical to the health of civilization around the globe. The ability of information to flow freely or cheaply is based on the support of advertising, which is absolutely mission-critical.”
- We have to balance customer privacy and experience. Tony believes that protecting the consumer’s data and privacy online is one of his company’s key missions. However, relevant targeting and customer experience should be considered as well. “We have to protect consumer privacy and listen to government regulators but, at the same time, maintain some form of addressability. And that’s the balance. I don’t think you can just throw out targeting or attribution. That’s the lifeblood of the internet and our experiences.”
- It’s all about trust. Tony thinks technology frameworks and government policies could help resolve trust issues that both consumers and the data industry face. “It’s about having policies and technologies that are aligned with those policies that achieve consumer trust. We, as an industry, have trust issues. And we need to re-establish that trust by working with governments around the world and putting together technology frameworks that support their definition of consent, privacy, and data security.”
IAB Tech Lab: Goals & Missions
“We are the global technical standard-setting body for the digital advertising ecosystem. We partnered with IABs and other trade organizations around the globe. We have over 3,000 participants across over 20 working groups. And those working groups run everything from privacy and identity to addressability. We steward the OpenRTB protocol, and that’s a key Tech Lab initiative. The vast standard, taxonomy, technical rich media, standards, and specifications — they all fall across our 20+ working groups. And we’ve got about 33,250 participants around the globe within those working groups. […]
We’re developing standards, and then we release those standards to the industry for public comment. And after that public comment period, those standards are final. We’re not the internet police. We’re not the digital advertising industry police. We can’t force the adoption of our standards. Our standards are adopted based on their merit. If they don’t have merit, they don’t get adopted.”
Consumer Privacy or Consumer Experience?
“We need to grapple with consumer privacy and ensure that consumers are providing consent for the use of their data. We are guarding that data with our lives and making sure that it’s not compromised either egregiously or maliciously. […] But if you remove some of those things, that’s going to lead to a worse consumer experience. How are advertisers going to cap frequency without any form of an identifier? You’re just going to see the same ad over and over. So, finding the balance between maintaining consumer privacy and getting consent in a way that’s clear and concise is very tricky. […] It’s like the fine print on a car rental contract. Who’s really reading that?”
Data Privacy Predictions: More Governance, More Consent, More Regulations
“I think we’re going to see more governance and more regulations on how data is used. I think we’re going to see clearer definitions of consent. The definitions of consent and privacy are going to remain regional issues over the next several years. So, we solve them by building a framework. We establish a protocol to manage the governance of consent and privacy across the globe. And that’s something that Tech Lab is working on right now. We call it the Global Privacy Platform, and it’s about how you manage consent across these different regions. A lot of our customers are global media companies and global brands, and they operate across these markets. So, providing a holistic framework to be able to manage consent and privacy in those markets is something that we’re actively working towards. But, without question, it’s going to get harder, not easier, over the years.”
3 Critical Moments in the Data Industry’s History
“There have been three watershed moments in our industry’s history. And we’re living number three right now. The first was the invention and deployment of the ad server. […] Watershed moment number two was the ability to trade media. […] I know you wanted to get off the identity and privacy track, but that’s watershed moment number three. It’s an existential challenge. And I think the challenge is the keyword, not a crisis. It’s a challenge that the industry can rise to if we agree to work together and to adopt standards that protect consumer privacy.”
Life Outside Tech Lab: Ozark, AI, and Campfire
“One of the reasons I took the role was because there are big problems, big challenges, and big opportunities for IAB Tech Lab to address for the industry. And I remain passionate about this industry — it’s put food on my table for 25 years. But if I could have done this podcast from somewhere in the woods with a campfire behind me, that’s where I would do it. Camping, fly fishing, and hunting are the things I very much enjoy outside of work. I’m reading a lot about AI — the history of AI, the future of AI, and how it’s going to become a very competitive field between major countries like the US and China.”
[15:46] “I think at the end of the day, it’s about trust. I think it’s about having policies and having technologies that are aligned with those policies that achieve consumer trust. I think we as an industry have a trust issue, frankly.”
[17:02] “We need to be good stewards of this ecosystem on behalf of consumers.”
[19:52] “Providing a holistic framework to be able to manage consent and privacy in those markets is something that we’re actively working towards. But it’s going to get harder, not easier over the next several years”
[21:24] “Challenge is the keyword, not crisis. I think it’s a challenge that the industry can rise to if we agree to work together, to adopt standards that protect consumer privacy”