Industry must wake up to the “new sheriff in town” – the ACCC

Posted by IAB Australia On August 21, 2019

From getting to grips with the ACCC crackdown to delving into “different flavours” of first party data and launching your data audits promptly, a panel of senior industry leaders dug deep on the future of data and identity.

Speaking at the annual Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia Data Council event at PwC’s Barangaroo office, IAB CEO Gai Le Roy moderated a session featuring Data Synergies principal and professor of practice at UNSW Business School, Peter Leonard; head of data and analytics, Tom Hunt; Salesforce regional sales director of DMP and advertising technology, Ben Sharp and MediaMath AUNZ VP partnership development and country manager Yun Yip.

The session kicked off with an opening summary from Leonard on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) ongoing Digital Platforms Inquiry and its impact on the industry.

In a succinct wrap-up looking at what’s at stake for the sector, he stressed, “there’s a new sheriff in town” with the ACCC, adding that people have no choice but to buy into the current consumer protection, data and privacy debates at large.

He explained how essentially a preliminary recommendation looking into the news media has now morphed into a broader inquiry into services offered by advertising and media agencies to consider issues of complexity and opacity, and that it is as “worrying” as it sounds.

“It’s important for the industry to now take this seriously,” Leonard said.

“I think you’ve been blindsided a bit by the fact that there was a big shift between the preliminary recommendations last December and the final recommendations that came out in late July.

“But now it’s time to engage with the ACCC to educate them about the potential impact of some of their recommendations on the industry, and to help them to better differentiate what should have been their primary focus – which was the activities of certain global digital platforms.

“However this has now turned into, potentially, a very wide-ranging inquiry that would have them looking under every rock of everyone in the advertising and marketing supply chain, including advertising agencies, media buyers, and everyone in the programmatic supply chain, up to publishers.”

Sharp admits when talking about identity “it is really difficult” due to the number of devices people have and the vast array of platforms people sit on, but it’s something Salesforce has been busy stitching together.

“There are massive, massive challenges for all of us around identity,” he said.

Data savvy Koala

As a direct to consumer (DTC) brand, online mattress business Kola may have access to reams of consumer intelligence, but Hunt said as “there’s always somebody with more data than you”, it takes data collection very seriously – and responsibly.

Hunt outlined how the company stitches sessions and identities together “we will do it deterministically; we will do it probabilistically and we will use any other data available to us.”

Such data is then fed into different segmentations, be it first party data, feeding advertising or consumer analysis.

Hunt said while there’s a lot that can be done, the difficulty is, the more it does with additional and different techniques, the further and different challenges, such as legislative and technological, can arise.

Despite collecting a large amount of information, Hunt said the company would never retarget people with something far-fetched like a dating app, as that would “betray” the trust. It must be relevant, such as a bed base.

“We take the trust that our users have in us very, very seriously, and if people fully comprehended the amount that can be inferred about them from their browsing behaviour and their device identifiers and fingerprinting etc, it might make some people uncomfortable,” Hunt explained.

“But we will never use that data in such a way that is unexpected, or that we don’t have the authority to.”

The panel agreed that trust and consent have to be paramount or a break down happens, or we can find ourselves in sticky situations, with Sharp citing the recent Netflix documentary The Great Hack. The programme explored how data company Cambridge Analytica came to symbolise the dark side of social media in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election.

Yip said she is excited about what consent-driven ID solutions can actually look like and after all the talked about “consumer-first”, it’s now about what this actually means for it to be a solution that is also putting the marketer first as well.

Get your data house in order

Leonard sees the ACCC’s plans and moves as going “significantly further” than the GDPR and European regulation that is about today, with IAB’s Le Roy further stressing that now is the time businesses need to get their data in order.

Despite the changes afoot which will require “a lot of hard work”, Le Roy said the industry’s ability to “re-advance and regroup” cannot be underestimated and that while challenges may be ahead, it’ll be a “fascinating” journey.

She said while some carried out their data audits 18 months ago, in light of GDPR, for those that didn’t, they must now look at what they have consent for and to get rid of the rest.

“Seriously, clean up while you have the chance as a data audit never hurts,” Le Roy said. 

IAB Australia

IAB Australia is the peak trade association for online advertising in Australia. As one of over 43 IAB offices globally and with a rapidly growing membership, the role of the IAB is to support sustainable and diverse investment in digital advertising across all platforms in Australia.