How 3 publishers combat data leakage

Many publishers fear data leakage, when a third party collects valuable data about their digital audience without their permission. These third parties (be they agencies or ad tech companies) then use that data to create and buy a look-alike audience more cheaply elsewhere, thereby sidestepping the publisher.

It is an exceedingly difficult problem to track and combat, but it’s not an insurmountable one. As three publishing sales executives explained, safeguarding against data leakage comes down to enforcing rules about what data advertisers can collect, monitoring ads for unwanted pixels that can scoop up information about a publisher’s audience, and limiting what data are collected in the first place.

Ashwin Sridhar, vp of online advertising & Ideas People Media, The Economist
We have three broad measures in place. We adhere to the strictest of the privacy laws in our regions. We have contractual relationships with agencies that prevent the use of cookies for data capture, unless there is a valid reason, and we cannot work with partners that insist on collecting data. There are two agencies on the programmatic side we don’t work with because they insist on collecting data. We do get requests from advertisers because they want to be able to see who has seen their ad and be able to retarget them. We have the ability to retarget on behalf of our advertisers, but those are programs we run, and we hold the data. You lose all control over the data if you hand that over to the advertiser.

The last measure is that we give readers the means to control what data is collected. In some instances, we go beyond what the law requires. We give them the tool — it’s a slider and you can decide what level of data is collected on you as a user. To me, it’s about the trust and relationship we have with our readers. The second is commercial: if you don’t have trust, you don’t have a business.

Chip Schenck, vp, programmatic sales & strategy, Meredith Digital
We protect against data leakage in three ways. We use tools like Ghostery, Krux Data Sentry, etc., to help us determine who is dropping unnecessary pixels and, almost more important, who is bringing in unwanted data collectors. Pixels are a part of our business and have a great many good uses. But you need to manage who is getting on your page and how to limit any unplanned, excessive or unwanted leakage.

We have a set of standard policies and practices in place to provide a consistent response to agency and advertiser requests. We also need to be transparent with our consumers and customers about these policies and practices, so we post policies both for consumers and for third parties.

We have contractual protections to enforce our business practices and policies with our partners. This leads directly back to the ability to monitor and analyze any potential collection leveraging the tools, and enforce the contractual obligations if needed.

Kelly Roark, general manager, programmatic sales,
Data leakage is a concern that takes measures to protect against. Equally important, we are focused on the contextual targeting solution offers advertisers beyond basic demo and lookalike modelling performed by third parties.

For advertisers who work directly with us, we can offer more bespoke contextual audience targeting to increase campaign performance and insights about the users who respond to a brand. We’re seeing more advertiser interest in this approach as they look for new ways to increase their return on media investment.

Homepage image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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