Home On TV & Video Unlocking Opportunities For Transparency And Control In Connected TV Ads

Unlocking Opportunities For Transparency And Control In Connected TV Ads

John Nardone, President at Mediaocean

AdExchanger recently brought needed attention to our industry’s failure to effectively implement the notice and choice principle for data privacy in online advertising, pointing out its ineffectiveness and potential issues. 

This series of articles highlighted the FTC’s years-long skepticism about the industry standard’s implementation by DAA and AdChoices, noting that the practical realities often fail to live up to stated aims. We can all agree that it should not be so difficult to opt out of a Harry Potter ad.

Doubts continue to persist and grow about whether the industry can self-regulate on this essential issue. In fact, at a recent House subcommittee hearing on privacy, the notice and choice principle faced criticism that contributed to the stalling of the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) before reaching a full floor vote.

AdChoices provides a critical linchpin of the industry’s promise to users and is the practical manifestation of a more important principle: that consumers should understand – and be able to choose for themselves – how their data is managed.

The viability of that standard comes down to its execution, which faces certain underlying challenges in display advertising. Video and CTV bring their own challenges and opportunities for notice and choice.

For digital video, we are taking halting steps forward, insofar as the VAST 4.0 standard provides improved infrastructure for implementing transparency and user control. But, for a variety of reasons, its adoption has been slow. Nevertheless, as more publishers transition to VAST 4.0, it will become technically easier to live up to the spirit of notice and choice.

A bigger challenge – and opportunity – looms with the rise of connected TV (CTV), where the lean-back nature of the experience prompts a new set of hurdles.

The importance of transparency and choice

Current laws already enumerate acceptable and nonacceptable use cases for user data, but the legal framework can only go so far in protecting consumers’ privacy when the users themselves are passive participants. That’s why the only sustainable approach combines legal compliance with radical transparency in the form of clearer, more prevalent and more user-friendly interfaces for notice and choice.

For notice and choice to work, consumers must have clear and understandable information about how their data is used and shared, while also having the opportunity to easily choose what they want to do with it. In that respect, notice and choice cannot be a one-time event but must be an ongoing commitment that accompanies every single ad impression delivered to the user.

That enhanced standard should apply to all formats. But what about those that don’t involve cursors and clicks?


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Opportunities and challenges in connected TV

CTV offers an unparalleled opportunity for our industry to get privacy and consent from the start. Unlike display advertising (or digital video), CTV has never relied on cookies for user identification, yet it still holds user data in the form of login credentials and device information.

Advertisers should not be lulled into a false sense of security. Just because cookies are not involved in targeting does not mean consumers’ privacy is being respected. Instead, they should seize this moment to drive the industry to a more solid foundation of responsible data use in CTV advertising.

To meet the opportunity in CTV, there are also technical challenges to be addressed. One of the primary concerns for CTV platforms and publishers is how to implement notice and choice mechanisms without denigrating the CTV user experience. Solving this will require more innovation and creativity to afford that kind of transparency consumers deserve.

There are new possibilities thanks to our habit of being on more than one screen at a time. One possible solution is embedding a QR code into videos that viewers can scan to access privacy information using their phones. Other mechanisms might include push notifications, verification codes or audio prompts.

The future of advertising: Notice and choice in CTV

The advertising industry has a responsibility to maintain a high level of responsible use for CTV technology. With the right balance of transparency, choice and user control, advertisers can create a sustainable and successful advertising ecosystem that is truly self-regulating.

By embracing these values and addressing the technical challenges involved, advertisers can create a user-centric experience that respects the intelligence and autonomy of consumers that fosters the kind of trust that has proved elusive to date.

On TV & Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video. 

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