First published on on Friday, October 1st, 2021

With growing pressure from both consumers and regulators to improve privacy and transparency within the digital advertising ecosystem,it is crucial that we as an Industry facilitate this discussion and the improvement of standards, writes Suzanne McElligott.

The digital advertising ecosystem is in a period of significant transition with digital advertising moving centre stage as a lifeline for business during the pandemic coupled with external factors such as increased regulation, the deprecation of third party cookies and the unprecedented investment required by digital service providers in technology and service adaption. 

IAB Ireland’s inaugural Digital Trust Forum took place via Zoom on Wednesday, September 22nd.   This was the first gathering of the key stakeholders in Ireland’s digital advertising industry sharing the industry’s response.

Here are our Key Takeouts:

Self Regulation has a crucial role to play in digital advertising for both society and the state.  

Given the size and complexity of the digital advertising ecosystem, it was agreed that self regulation has a pivotal role to play in establishing an effective regulatory environment.   Orla Twomey, CEO, of The ASAI quoted the European Commission’s Consumer Protection Directorate’s view that law and self-regulation can and should work together in a modern Europe and that effective self-regulation provides a service to society, at no cost to the State.  The Directorate noted that independent adjudication or monitoring processes can provide comfort on the robustness of self regulation. Self Regulation is built on the technical expertise of industry, and the significant collaboration of industry in standard development and in self regulation has been considerable.

Digital advertising industry’s collaboration in Standard Development is pivotal to growing Trust. 

The Self Regulation/Standards panel discussed whether our industry is in safe waters, what has been achieved and the key tasks in the next 6 months. The consensus among  the representatives from IAB Europe, TAG, IAB Tech Lab, and The ASAI was that the significant collaboration of industry has been very positive. Given the ongoing rate of innovation in the industry there is a need for ongoing adaption of regulations to keep pace with industry developments.  The launch of The Gold Standardby IAB Ireland in February and the strong uptake by agencies, platforms and publishers is a great example of collaboration. An example of pan European collaboration is the Transparency and Consent Framework, IAB Europe’s Ninon Vigner  shared that the TCF has now more than 750 vendors and 120 Consent Management Platforms across Europe with more continuing to join.

Individual companies are also driving change.

Jade Nester, TikTok’s Head of Data Public Policy, Europe, shared the platform’s commitment to protection of younger users’ privacy and data.  Chrome’s Gabrielle Jenkins provided an update on the Privacy Sandbox and Chrome’s dedication to collaboration with the industry.   Yahoo’s VP Global Privacy and Trust, Doug Miller, discussed the challenges faced by both policy makers and industry in creating effective regulation and standards that work both for users and industry. He referenced many Industry initiatives such as the work of IAB Tech Lab, which feature input from policy makers and advocacy groups. This is essential to provide long term solutions and to co-create a future featuring innovation and competition in a sustainable digital advertising industry.  Doug also referenced the DPC’s recent consultation with all key stakeholders from advocacy groups to industry on its regulatory strategy as an example of this positive engagement and how to solve complex regulatory problems. 

Personalisation and Privacy are not mutually exclusive

The key stakeholder panel discussed the significance of targeted ads to drive growth for SMEs, start ups, artisanal products/ services and to help fund a sustainable media industry.  Chris Gordon, Head of Ad Operations and Programmatic, Mediahuis highlighted the importance of targeted advertising in sharing relevant advertising to users based on their interests, reducing advertising wastage and also ensuring inappropriate ads are not served to younger or other user groups.  David Murphy, Head of Digital Solutions, The Irish Times shared publishers significant investment in technology to assist compliance with regulations such as GDPR and the Gold Standard.  Core’s Stephanie Barry highlighted the importance of robust standards and the role of agencies in assisting their clients to grow their knowledge in this respect.  In referring to the phenomena of users’ cookie notice fatigue, Quantcast’s Allan Tinkler recommended that any regulatory changes respect the importance of ensuring that users’ data is not controlled by just one or two browsers or other entities. Attendees were also referred to the excellent IAB Europe report authored by Chief Economist, Dr Daniel Knapp, on the value of targeted advertising.

Ireland’s digital ad industry is committed to adoption of global standards.

Considering the significant role advertisers play in promoting standards adoption,Rebecca Trevor, Advertising Brand Manager, Laya Healthcare shared Laya’s leadership role as an Irish advertiser in adopting the role of Brand Supporter of the Gold Standard.  Rebecca explained the importance of these globally recognised standards in providing trust and confidence to advertisers in partnering with companies.  We are delighted to announce September’s Gold Standard certifications including publishers News Ireland, Reach plc and media agency Dentsu Ireland. It is also great to welcome Nissan on board as a Gold Standard Brand Supporter, joining  Aer Lingus, AIB, An Post, Laya Healthcare and Vodafone.

The Digital Trust Forum provided a timely opportunity to hear the views of the key stakeholders across Ireland’s ecosystem as the industry works to enhance trust and confidence in digital advertising.    Given the ongoing developments in industry initiatives/standards, self regulation as well as state and EU regulation, IAB Ireland will hold a secondDTF with further updates in 2022.