Privacy and Canadian Marketing
February 19, 2013 | Comments
This is the era of “Big Data.” Ultra-connected consumers leave a trail of digital data-points wherever they go, providing marketers with enormous opportunities in terms of highly targeted communications. The right ad for the right person at the right time is becoming a reality. But, this new era has also ignited a new and important conversation about privacy. It’s a tricky and still evolving subject, almost certain to be one of the hottest topics of 2013.
Ahead of Marketing‘s half-day conference, Understanding Privacy in 2013: The New Rules of Engagement, we’re sharing a handful of feature stories from our Feb. 25 special privacy issue. Click through to check out the latest on anti-spam regulation, the Do Not Track debacle, who’s leading the privacy charge in Canada and a sneak peak at video footage from our roundtable discussion.
Visit the Understanding Privacy 2013 site for ticket and event information.
THE PRIVACY ROUNDTABLE: BIG DATA AND MARKETERS
Marketing convened a panel of socially savvy media, agency, legal and academic know-it-alls to discuss the big questions facing marketers in Canada’s changing privacy landscape. Are teens and young adults really that much more willing to share personal info than older Canadians? If someone shares a personal product preference, can an agency use that in consumer advertising?
Here’s a excerpt from our hour-long discussion that focuses on drawing big data boundaries between consumers and marketers.
The federal government certainly thinks so, passing Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) into law in December 2010. Bill C-28, as it pertains to marketers, bars the sending of commercial electronic messages (CEMs) including e-mails and text messages, without prior consent from the recipient.
While CASL’s intent is to snuff out true spammers, the first draft regulations published in July 2011 revealed that many legitimate marketing practices would be rendered illegal. Fifty-five businesses and industry associations brought their concerns to Industry Canada during a two month consultation period ending Sept. 7, 2011. Finally, on Jan. 5, 2013, revised regulations were published.
Was it good news for marketers? Cue the collective, “Yes, but…” The new regulations, which contain some important business-to-business exemptions, will certainly soften the impact for marketers. But many believe the exemptions don’t go far enough, and that at its core, CASL is flawed.
[Continue to The Hidden Costs of Canada's Anti-Spam Law]
The internet has a crush on Michael Geist. The technology lawyer and columnist is adored by internet activists and pro-web communities like Reddit, a popular social news site where users have called him a “national superhero” and even suggested he be named chair of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission.
Very few marketers, however, are among Geist’s legion of fans. The ad industry has clashed with the University of Ottawa law professor on several issues, dating back to 2008 when he created an online tool, IOptOut.ca, that enabled consumers to send a request to opt out of marketing phone calls from hundreds of organizations and businesses with a single click.
More recently he ruffled industry feathers when he reported that groups including the Canadian Marketing Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada were lobbying the government to ease anti-spam measures during “backroom consultations” that occurred after the regulatory committee hearings.
The pro-privacy stance he takes in his columns, which run in the Toronto Star, the Ottawa Citizen and on his personal blog, is often at odds with the agenda of marketers excited about “big data” era opportunities for more precise ad targeting based on an endless stream of personal data.
Privately, those in the industry might vent about Geist, but none of the association representatives or marketing execs contacted for this story were willing to speak publicly about his influence over public opinion or policy.
Asked if people in the marketing industry have taken issue with him, Geist pauses. “I’m sure they have,” he says, with some hesitation. He pauses again and lets out a small laugh. “Yes, they have,” he says. [Continue to Michael Geist: Canada's Privacy Gadfly]
DNT is a complex, thorny issue that produces a wide range of opinion. Consumer advocates argue it is necessary in an age where vast amounts of consumer information swirl about the web. Others warn that if it becomes the de facto setting, it would mean the end of the web in its current incarnation (though I’m betting porn comes through unscathed).
The concept became a hot topic mid-way through last year when Microsoft ran afoul of the advertising community after announcing that it would make DNT the default setting on the latest version of its Internet Explorer web browser, IE 10.
The web quickly exploded with theories about Microsoft’s motivation: Was it an attempt to position IE as a more consumer-friendly browser to help it regain market share lost to rivals like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox?
Others suggested it was a backhanded slap at Google, possibly hindering the ability of its rival to serve ads based on intimate consumer knowledge?
In a June 2012 post on the company’s blog, “Microsoft on the Issues,” chief privacy officer David Burt cited a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project had found that 68% of respondents were “not okay” with targeted advertising.
“This sentiment, coupled with our commitment to privacy by design, led us to think deeply about how users can exercise their DNT choice in IE 10,” he wrote. “We ultimately concluded that the appropriate privacy-friendly default for DNT in IE 10 is ‘on.’”
Microsoft declined to be interviewed for this piece, but emailed this statement: “People overwhelmingly tell us they want more control over how their personal information is used online. They don’t want either their personal activity or their children’s shared without their permission. While ‘Do Not Track’ is a technology solution that’s still in its formative stages, it holds the promise of giving people greater choice and control of their privacy as they browse the web.”
While nobody disputes that DNT should be an option for consumers, the key issue in the debate is whether companies like Microsoft—or Google or Mozilla for that matter—should be able to make the choice for consumers. [Continue to Microsoft's Do Not Track Debacle]