Privacy compliance consumes more attention in agency-land thanks to the rise of data collection, the proliferation of vendors that support it and new catchphrases like "people-based marketing," which was coined by Facebook a few months back.
GroupM has created a new position to centralize its institutional knowledge and activities regarding privacy, and it has hired Rachel Glasser, a four-year veteran of the WPP Group-owned media agency network, to fill the role.
For a big agency, compliance includes monitoring and obeying US and international privacy laws, vetting the data practices of technology partners, auditing on a schedule and contacting when something doesn't smell right. And client teams must be kept abreast of the evolving regulatory and compliance requirements.
Glasser previously worked at MEC on accounts including AT&T, L'Oreal and The Home Depot – primarily in digital media roles. She simultaneously pursued her law degree at Brooklyn Law School and was named director of privacy last year, just prior to taking the bar exam in New Jersey.
"The way the industry is moving, the speed at which technology advances, there continues to be a growing concern about data privacy and what we can do to protect that in terms of brand loyalty and consumer trust," Glasser said on Thursday.
"We're trying to make sure the different vendors – tech companies and ad networks – are privacy compliant in terms of the kind of data they collect," she said. "The worst-case scenario would be if somebody tries to [onboard] an ad server touting its abilities to deterministically target, the client says great, and before we know it they're doing a fingerprint or leaving residue on devices."
That's the kind of disaster Glasser was hired to help GroupM avoid.
Glasser points out while there are no omnibus privacy laws in the United States that apply to all sectors, "there are a number of different laws that protect data or privacy within certain industries." Health and finance are the two big ones. And then of course there's COPPA, the federal law that regulates data collection from children under the age of 13.
While Glasser will not act as counsel for GroupM, her legal training will assist her in her new role. That's because when the company raises a concern with a technology partner, lawyers are often the first point of contact. "With a lot of the folks that I deal with on a daily basis, vendors will refer you to their legal counsel," she said, so it helps to speak legalese.
Education is another component of Glasser's job, and not a small one. GroupM is the world's largest media agency group, with more than 20,000 employees around the world. So where do even you begin?
"I'm based in New York, so it's the most logical place to start," she said. "And, digital teams are impacted the most – of the 20,000, not all dabble in digital. Even if we have to go client team by client team, it's going to be a process. These things do take time."