Media Matters: IAB’s Michael Hahn on Navigating Privacy in Media

June 26, 2024



Michael Hahn, IABIn the rapidly evolving privacy landscape, it can be challenging for companies to understand what’s required to comply with new regulations and industry standards. Not only is it critical to maintain compliance from a legal perspective, but protecting consumer data is important to a brand’s reputation.

For the latest edition of AAM Media Matters, Michael Hahn, executive vice president and general counsel of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), explained the state of privacy in media and new industry initiatives to improve the compliance process in digital advertising.


Key Privacy Challenges

The industry is at a critical stage as it becomes more regulated.

“There are close to 20 states that have enacted privacy laws with possibly more on the way,” Hahn said. “In light of this increased regulation, industry practices need to evolve for companies to demonstrate compliance.”

These changes fit into two categories: ensuring compliance in data collection and processing and maintaining partner accountability.

“If you look back at how privacy diligence was historically conducted, it often involved getting a representative and warranty from a partner and a promise of indemnification if something was done incorrectly. There might have been a diligence questionnaire included in the process, but this often was ineffective.  Far too often such questionnaires were too generic to offer significant insights.”

Privacy laws now require that companies become stewards of consumer data, which means they must perform more in-depth, comprehensive diligence of their partners. “Companies are going to have to account for this in their planning and resource allocation as they move forward, which is a big change,” Hahn said.


Industry Solutions Simplify Compliance

Considering these challenges, Hahn shared several solutions developed by IAB and IAB Tech Lab to streamline and standardize the compliance process across the industry. These solutions work together to create a simplified approach to help advertisers and publishers maintain privacy standards.

The IAB Multi-State Privacy Agreement (MSPA) is a framework designed to help marketers, agencies, publishers and tech companies comply with varying state-level privacy regulations, ensuring that companies can efficiently manage compliance across multiple jurisdictions.

“One of the goals of the MSPA is to elevate privacy so it gets taken out of one-to-one negotiations and creates a common baseline set of terms that can be applied throughout the entire industry,” Hahn said.

The Global Privacy Platform works alongside the MSPA to transmit consumer privacy preferences across jurisdictions, ensuring compliance with various privacy laws such as GDPR and state-specific regulations.

“When a publisher receives a global privacy opt out signal, there needs to be a means of transmitting that to the ad tech companies. The Global Privacy Platform creates that kind of signaling system.”

Another component of the IAB’s privacy solutions portfolio is its Diligence Platform, which is powered by SafeGuard Privacy, a data privacy platform that contains privacy diligence questions for different segments of the digital advertising industry. The goal of the platform is to standardize diligence questionnaires that will streamline the evaluation process and improve efficiency in the compliance process.


What the Future Holds for Privacy

Hahn anticipates a continued evolution of privacy regulation, which means companies need to become stewards of their data. To achieve this, publishers and advertisers will increasingly be expected to impose deeper evaluations of their partners.

“You’re going to see publisher and advertisers digging more into their partners’ processing of data, perhaps in ways that they didn’t do before or they relied on their agencies to do.”


Strategies for Privacy Compliance

As the industry experiences signal loss due to the deprecation of cookies and other tracking methods, Hahn said organizations will need to build strategies to leverage first-party data while remaining privacy compliant.

“Everybody needs to develop a playbook on how they’re going to monetize in a future world that’s increasingly regulated and where consumers opt out in greater numbers,” Hahn said. “It becomes really compelling to have a strategy for how to monetize your first party data, but it’s also important to understand what type of advertising you can and cannot undertake in a landscape where consumers increasingly opt out.”



Topics: Interview

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