Data buyer beware: agencies are starting to ditch complacent providers

Digiday 07 Apr 2021 04:01
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April 7, 2021 by Kate Kaye

Ad agencies are rethinking their dealings with data providers. Data privacy regulations in Europe and California, along with third-party cookie clampdowns by Apple and Google, are driving agencies to scrutinize how data suppliers source their information and handle people’s privacy choices. Some are even ending data partnerships all together.

The data privacy currents have pressed companies to clean up their data collection and retention practices, such as by providing people with notice and choice before collecting their data as well as honoring people’s requests for companies to purge their person information. Nonetheless, some data providers have yet to be budged out of complacency, according to Richard Harris, data and analytics director at independent creative and performance agency Union. So agencies are taking action.

“There’s a lot of [data] providers that we have spoken to that haven’t made the shift yet,” said Harris. “They don’t have answers to our questions when we ask if they’re enabling opt-outs or elimination of data from third-party cookies.” The result is simple, said Harris: “If they don’t have that [opt-out] ability, they won’t become a long-term partner for us,” he said.

“If you are two to three layers away from actual ingestion of that data, the actual consent of that data, you’re going to have challenges,” said Nii Ahene, chief strategy officer at Tinuiti, which primarily handles ad buys on platforms including Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Agencies including Goodway Group and Rapp are subjecting data providers to tougher data privacy and security inspections. Goodway already has given some suppliers the boot, said Amanda Martin, vp of enterprise partnerships. “We’re taking a far more granular look at where we’re spending and how we’re spending [on data],” she said. Already in 2021 and going forward, the agency is limiting or ending relationships with “third-party data providers that we just feel don’t meet the consent requirements or outsource so much of their data.”

Shedding light on a black box

The GDPR effect

Agencies, of course, build their brands on being ahead of the curve. Others interviewed for this story suggested that third-party providers have been data non grata for some time. MightyHive has advised clients for the past few years to “prepare for a world in which third-party data starts to basically go away entirely,” said Pietz.

A reckoning for location and credit card data suppliers

That lack of direct consent from people when location data is gathered has led agencies like Rapp to “steer away” from location data providers, said Aldridge. Data products built from credit card data also have a limited shelf life as a result of the California Consumer Privacy Act, said an agency exec who asked not to be named. “We’re seeing those partnerships [with credit card data providers] be fallouts of CCPA,” said the exec.

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Goodwayindependent creative and performance agency UnionGDPRNii AheneTinuiti
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