DAAC Summit 2018
Posted by Audrey Trainor October 02, 2018

Jedis and Lightsabers: Using Star Wars to Distill Learnings from the DAAC’s Inaugural Summit

On a bright and crisp Toronto morning, I sat down at the first Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada’s Summit to hear…a keynote address on Star Wars? I thought I wasn’t in the right galaxy for a minute or two, until I realized it was Peter Kosmala (of DataXu) kicking off the Summit with a convincing argument that Canada is A New Hope for all things privacy. With a long-standing data privacy model that is sensible and scalable, it is a logical assumption that Canada may very well be The Force to lead the way by moderating European opinions and galvanizing Americans to take a formal stand that leads to legislation. During his session, we were reminded of the need for collaborative work between regulatory and enforcement bodies, as well as active, forward-thinking participation from organizations to strike the appropriate balance of data privacy in the new era. These points were touched on repeatedly in other sessions throughout the day – clearly underlining the what most experts believe: that over time, the GDPR will trigger a digital privacy movement worldwide.

One of the most impressive sessions of the day was from Edelman. Using the Edelman proprietary Brand Trust Barometer, the advertising community can take a deeper look into the consumer mindset & trends over time. In 2014, 80% of global consumers believed that failure of a brand to keep customer information secure would impact their trust in the company. Since 2014, there has been a steady rise in the demand for more trust building attributes to be seen within organizations. Demonstrating innate integrity and putting the customer ahead of profit, rank at the very top of these preferred attributes. By 2016, protection of consumer data was the #1 hallmark of trust that consumers wanted to see – not flashy new features or lower prices. Fast forward to 2018, four months post-GDPR and the global mandate from consumers is even more clear- lack of data privacy is considered The Phantom Menace. Organizations now have to earn the right to data by building trust as the foundation of this new Republic.

To further emphasize the growing awareness of consumers, the DAAC also released updated statistics that are in line with what I saw from Edelman. Recognition of the AdChoices icon in Canada is up to 58%, from last year’s stat of 53%. Of that 58% of consumers, 29% are in the 18-34 age range – traditionally a key demographic to marketers. I think the vital point to understand here is not that we need to abandon the use of data and become a data-militant Empire, but that we use that data for good. There’s also plenty of data available that says many consumers understand and appreciate that their behavioral data can be used to better serve them. The key is that consumers want to KNOW what data is being collected, how it’s going to be used, and be given a choice of saying, yes or no. Anakin had a choice, and consumers want one too.

During a fireside chat with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC), it was highlighted that although there is increasing knowledge by consumers about what the AdChoices icon is, many are still unclear about the choices it offers them. So, while we’ve made progress, there is still work to do like providing a clear, understandable course of action to consumers that is not cloaked behind five-plus pages of privacy policy legal jargon. Considering how long it would take for people to review (and comprehend) the privacy policies of every website they visited, combined with the average adult reading level, it’s safe to say that most consumers have no idea what data collection activities they’ve consented to. And if they did? They’d be as stunned as Luke was when he found out Darth Vader was his father.

This well-articulated disconnect presented by the OPC stuck with me over the weekend and is still eating away at me today. As important as the data mapping, audits, regulation, policy changes, notice, consent and enforcement are, what value do they have if the average consumer doesn’t understand what they’re reading? If anything, they only serve to reinforce already held assumptions that brands are unethically exploiting consumer data.

As a senior member of the team responsible for a solution designed to inform consumers and give them choices about their privacy, I’m already asking myself, how can we better educate consumers and clear up the disillusion that exists to re-form trust? I don’t have the answer yet, and I’m sure it will take teamwork on both sides to get there, but there is some sage advice that comes to mind, which we should all embrace - “Do or do not. There is no try” when it comes to consumer’s data privacy.