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Navigating the Regulatory Landscape: Ensuring Publisher Privacy Compliance

Updated: Nov 9, 2023



Navigating the Regulatory Landscape: Ensuring Publisher Privacy Compliance


By Ben Brock, AdBridg CTO


There’s no shortage of dialog and opinions about privacy regulation in the digital advertising industry (spoiler alert, I’m authoring one right now!). But as someone working on the front lines with publishers daily, I’m starting to see a dangerous trend arising that I need to speak up about. Sure, protecting consumer privacy is a critical concern for publishers, and privacy regulations can be very complex, but what I want to sound the alarm on today are the missteps publishers are making, or not making, in trying to get to the regulatory “safe zone.”


In order to adhere to a growing number of regional laws, some publishers are investing heavily to make sure their systems are compliant, while others have their head completely in the sand. And there is a third group who are doing “something,” but are missing major blindspots that unknowingly put their business at risk.


Let’s focus on this latter group. Many publishers believe they are compliant when, in reality, they are falling short of clearing an ever-growing number of regulatory hurdles. Despite their best efforts, the complex nature of the digital ecosystem makes it difficult to become completely compliant. Vendors and ad partners working with publishers can make full compliance nearly impossible to achieve, since the publisher does not have visibility or control to the actions of those parties. Even with the most buttoned-up ad stack, a publisher working with a partner who doesn’t follow the rules, can pose a major risk. With the legal burden falling primarily on the publisher, this blindspot is a growing risk to all publishers in our industry.


Publishers often underestimate their risk exposure from the actions of the entire ecosystem, including third-party vendors. The absence of effective auditing mechanisms makes it challenging to monitor compliance across various partners and track the usage of user data. We do this all of the time for our publisher customers, and it’s not easy! The potential for legal action from any public or private party adds a clear and present danger to publishers. To address these concerns, publishers must adopt a proactive approach by implementing consent management platforms (CMPs) that align with global privacy protection initiatives (GPP) and regularly conduct self-audits. Staying up to date with vendor additions and involving legal review is crucial in maintaining compliance.


Now let’s talk about how this will impact your bottom line. Compliance with privacy regulations has started to have a significant impact on revenue generation for publishers, especially in Europe. Monetization from non-personalized ads differs substantially from consent-driven transactions. As the ecosystem catches up, this issue will become a concern in the United States as well. The value of non-consent inventory is expected to decline, emphasizing the importance of implementing effective CMPs. Identity plays a crucial role in advanced personalization targeting and attribution, but it must be handled within the boundaries of consent. The deprecation of cookies further complicates identity management, necessitating consent mechanisms that align with regional regulations.


So what’s it all mean? Publisher privacy compliance is a complex issue that requires careful attention and proactive measures. As regulations evolve and consumer privacy concerns continue to grow, publishers must stay informed and adapt swiftly to protect user data while remaining in compliance. Consent management platforms, ongoing self-audits and revenue considerations each play an essential role in this process. By embracing these practices and keeping pace with regulatory changes, publishers can navigate the shifting landscape and foster a privacy-conscious environment that benefits both their businesses and their users.



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