Must Hospitals Rethink The Meta Pixel?; Reddit Taps DoubleVerify As Brand Safety Go-To

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Hashing Out HIPAA

Facebook marketing pixels are ubiquitous. And hospitals are marketers. But are hospitals sending protected data in Meta site tags? 

The Markup tested the sites of 100 top hospitals in America and found 33 of them sent health data (including the reason for an appointment) with the Meta Pixel when, for instance, patients book appointments online. Those pixels fire to register data points – “events,” in attribution parlance – that the hospital uses to inform its own patient or marketing outreach. 

The data is hashed, but it can be linked to a device or household, and Meta also links that data to specific Facebook profiles.

“I’m deeply troubled by what [the hospitals] are doing with the capture and sharing of their data – it’s quite likely a HIPAA violation,” health privacy consultant David Holtzman tells The Markup.

The HIPAA violation hinges mainly on the IP address, which is conveyed by the Meta pixel as well. When connected to healthcare data, an IP address qualifies for HIPAA protection.

The potential use of this data collection by hospitals takes on added importance if and when Roe vs. Wade is overturned, as is expected at some point this summer. In some states, laws could force hospitals to report women who had sought abortions or certain pharmaceuticals. 

After being contacted for the story, six of the 33 hospitals already removed the site pixel.

Collecting Reddit Credit

A press release for a brand safety partnership, integration, certification program or whatever else rarely merits interest. But yesterday, Reddit and DoubleVerify broke that rule of thumb with the news that DV will be an exclusive, integrated solution for viewability, invalid traffic detection and brand safety on Reddit. 

Platforms and publishers rarely grant exclusive rights to vendors, especially one like DoubleVerify, since a handful of services with similar footprints are used broadly across the ecosystem. It is not a coincidence that Reddit’s announcement doesn’t mention exclusivity until the very bottom, while DoubleVerify touts it in the first sentence.

Plus, Reddit does have a third-party verification partnership with Oracle-owned Moat. 

For the exclusivity tag alone, it’s a coup for DoubleVerify. Other social platforms take a partner program approach and likely have vendors like Integral Ad Science, Zefr and Human, as well as DV and/or Moat. (Though Reddit isn’t bound in perpetuity). 

Winning the Reddit brand safety contract comes with risks as well. Reddit and its ad platform have matured, but it’s still chockablock with brand-safety booby traps. It’ll be on DoubleVerify to find those before advertisers stumble into them.

News You Can Use

A group of ad tech vets launched an open-source product called Brands4News.org, which has creative templates and a whitelist of news publishers that brands can use to serve ads alongside breaking news crises or social issues – such as the war in Ukraine or abortion-related reporting in the US – that otherwise is typically demonetized due to perceived brand suitability issues. 

News companies are in a bind since the most necessary reporting, even extremely well-read stories, are often ad revenue kryptonite. The program currently counts 18 Ukrainian news outlets, plus 28 other major global publishers, The Drum reports.

Brands4News is backed by a small group of programmatic volunteers: The group was founded by Ruben Schreurs, Ebiquity’s chief product officer – though the project is unrelated to Ebiquity. Execs from Magnite, Jounce Media, FirstPartyCapital and Kepler Group are among the voluntary backers. 

“We have delivered something we believe can help support quality journalism,” Schreurs says in a statement. “And we hope to see brands allocate a part of their advertising budgets to this cause.” 

Programmatic and online ad platforms have been in the spotlight as Ukrainian supporters pitch things Western backers can do to support the effort.

But Wait, There’s More!

Big Tech’s political ad bans are a big charade. [Protocol]

Introducing Instacart+, a grocery subscription loyalty program. [release]

Spotify acquires audiobook distributor Findaway. [Variety]

FuboTV integrates betting games within its live sports content. [release]

Class-action suit about Google selling personal user info overcomes dismissal. [Courthouse News]

Revlon files for bankruptcy as online competition takes its toll. [Reuters]

Google Discover is facing a major issue: Web Stories plagiarism. [9to5Google]

PE-backed Canadian holding co Plus Company acquires ad agency Mekanism and adds Accenture vet Brian Whipple as chair. [WSJ]

Samsung launches a mobile wallet app to compete with Google and Apple. [CNET]

You’re Hired!

OpenX hires Geoff Wolinetz to oversee demand-side platform relationships. [release]

Kantar taps Merkle vet Will Bordelon as CEO of its Insights Americas business. [MediaPost]

CreatorIQ names Jon Namnath as its chief operating officer. [release]

Viamedia promotes sales head Rick Tarvin to CRO. [Broadcasting+Cable]

Verisk Marketing Solutions hires Christine Frohlich as head of data governance. [release]

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