ITEGA calls for support of ‘public option’ user privacy and identity ecosystem; advertisers seek to prob ad tech fraud



Privacy Beat
Your weekly privacy news update.




ITEGA calls for support of ‘public option’ user privacy and identity ecosystem — led by journalism-aiding nonprofit


 Three years of research, meetings and webinar testimony support a call for funding and action to create a “public option” for web user identity and privacy that is under the control of individuals rather than private industry, the Information Trust Exchange Governing Association (ITEGA) concludes in a “white-paper” report.

“Identity, Advertising and the Future of Journalism: A Call to Action,” released April 30, is based on participation by dozens of experts in journalism, government, publishing, advertising technology, privacy advocacy and academic research. The report quotes more than a dozen experts who were part of three focused webinars in January and March.

ITEGA is a California-chartered public-benefit corporation, a tax-exempt nonprofit under section 501(c)3 of U.S. tax laws. It’s mission is to sustain journalism and an open web. It began its work in 2018 with ongoing strategy sessions in Chicago, New York and Washington. D.C.

“A stalemate among competing interests of marketers, publishers and technology companies is leaving the public with little ability to effectively manage or control personal information coursing through the business or publishing web,” the report says.

The stalemate, the report says, means there is “an urgent need to develop consensus with leadership by a public-benefit entity with sufficient gravitas and resources to create a public option for web identity.”

“We recommend that foundations, publishers, technology companies and privacy NGOs create or collaborate with a public-benefit non profit organization,” the ITEGA report continues, calling for joint action in four areas:

  • Fund new business models for small- and mid-sized news publishers that offer options for “building trust with audiences.”
  • Designate protocols and methods for sharing user data in a privacy-respecting manner
  • Embrace methods for public auditing and certifying such exchange
  • Collaborate with governments, industry and public advocates around existing and anticipated digital identity and privacy models and laws.

The report says the meetings and webinars found consensus around the need for enforceable rules around digital identity management, industry-independent governance, and efforts to enact a U.S. federal privacy law. “U.S. advertising-tech leadership has moved close to a partial solution, but has appeared unwilling to cede control of consumer identity authentication to a public-interest structure that could be global in impact and similar to the way internet domain names are governed.”








Does your organization need customized privacy compliance solutions? ITEGA  can help.

We bring together support you need to approach compliance with CCPA, GDPR if needed, and future privacy legislation as it emerges.

Learn More


Ad industry seems serious about probing the effectiveness of targeted online media spend; RFP interest due May 14

The advertising industry appears to be getting serious about following the money in global $200 billion in the ad-tech “Lumascape” — and it’s not sparing Google or Facebook. The commitment appears in a harshly worded “Request for Proposals” for a deep-dive probe of who touches the money advertisers spend on programmatic.  (DOWNLOAD RFP).

The Association of National Advertisers made the RFP public this week (see QUOTE OF THE WEEK, below) and called the programmatic-media buying ecosystem “riddled with material issues including thin transparency, fractured accountability and mind-numbing complexity.” It said the study will include all forms of programmatic media, naming as included social media “Walled Gardens” and online video. It asked for initial responses by May 14.

In the RFP, it says the assumption that programmatic advertising costs are justified by precise targeting of audiences “needs to be challenged.”  The RFP states: “We believe there is substantial waste for advertisers within programmatic advertising. What we do not know is exactly how much waste there is nor the true sources of it.” (RELATED STORY)

ANA will pick one or more “outside, independent consultants” to do pieces of the probe starting as early as summer. The study will quantify and look for ways to eliminate wasteful and unproductive spending, make media supply chains “understandable, highly transparent and analytically rich” and create needed solutions and standards.  ANA said the study will also determine whether “industry oversight bodies are needed to ensure the integrity of the programmatic ecosystem.”

Adding Bob Liodice, ANA CEO, in a simultaneous news release: “We believe this lack of transparency is costing advertisers billions of dollars in waste.”  Moreover, the RFP text notes, it also means the majority of “spend” gets used up before it hits publishers’ coffers.

The RFP analysis says only 40-60 perfect of advertisers’ digital dollars reaches publishers as working media and audience ad exposure.  No study global in scope has research where it is going, it adds.  In the middle are such things as arbitrage, markups, rebates, proprietary and opaque algorithms, data-transparency issues, dataset costs and charges “that have not been fully exposed.”




Ex-Googler presses arguments from his book predicting a collapse of programmatic advertising; seeks data

An attorney and former Google executive who’s written a book about programmatic advertising says the next year will be crucial for determining whether his prediction of an industry meltdown will occur — because of new privacy initiatives. And he says research is needed (see ANA item, above).

“We’re about to be running this grand global behavioral experiment in privacy laws and privacy productions, not just regulation [of] things but all these companies taking steps to limit access to advertising data,” says Tim Hwang, author of  the book “Subprime Attention Crisis.” This is in some way the big wager.”

Privacy Beat wrote about his book last year, saying the industry needs an independent institution to objectively compel disclosures and establish enforceable policies.

Now Hwang, in a recorded interview this week with AdExchanger reporter Zach Rodgers, said the privacy crackdown on data exchange leads to speculation that advertisers losing the detailed data will cut back. But he said they may also realize that they didn’t need all that data in the first place.

Hwang agreed with his interviewer that independently funded research without industry affiliation should study digital ad effectiveness. Said Hwang: “The cost of running truly careful causal experiments in this case is big and takes a lot of care and effort that we generally haven’t seen.”

In the interview, Hwang, who now is affiliated with the Berkman-Klein Center at the Harvard Law School, said two constituencies appear most interested in his book — regulators and advertisers.  The regulators, he said, are seeking insights on how to confirm and address fraud in digital ad markets.  The advertisers want help understanding where their money is going.

Among marketers, said Hwang, “I do think there is a kind of code of silence. I have heard from people who say [to me], ‘I have worked in paid for years, the whole thing is a scam.’ I don’t  know if that represents a majority of people, a large minority of people or a tiny minority of people.”




Like what you see? Then recommend to a friend.

Subscribe to Privacy Beat


Me2B Alliance, works on “respectful” privacy specs, seeks Newsom help; student report upcoming

Twenty-three privacy activists are awaiting a response from California Gov. Gavin Newsom to their call for stepped up action around enforcing the state’s two landmark digital privacy laws — and protecting the laws from being gutted by federal action.

The letter written on the letterhead of the Me2B Alliance Inc., a San Diego nonprofit working on digital identity certification ideas, is signed by 23 academic researchers, advertising and privacy industry notables, including Zach Edwards, Me2B’s key technologist.

It notes the departure of the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, to join the Biden administration. Becerra had led enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act and the California Privacy Rights Act. The letter calls for a series of eight open town hall-style forums to collect advice on enforcing the two laws.

“This conversation is all the more crucial even as federal privacy legislative proposals are being drafted — some of which seek to pre-empt and supercede California’s privacy laws,” the letter says.

The Newsom letter is part of Me2B’s overall effort to create code and technical specifications that would allow certification of websites for their level of “respectfulness” toward users, says Lisa LeVasseur, a founder of the nonprofit and a former longtime technology executive in the wireless industry.  Me2B’s mission is to “shine a light on stuff that people don’t know about, shouldn’t have to know but need to know in order to be safe.”

“We don’t say ‘privacy’ too often,” LeVasseur says of the new group’s work. “Privacy is too narrow a sense and that is why we have gone to calling it the Me2B respectful specification.”  The core view of Me2B’s organizers is that users of websites should not be “personally recognized, remembered or responded to” until they have given permission and asked for those services.

Me2B expects to make public in early May results of testing it has completed on online software applications being used by primary and secondary schools and their pupils. The organization will document their level of “respectfulness” toward the students.







Advertising industry takes off on ad-tech industry in RFP for big study of waste, opaqueness, complexity 

“The programmatic marketplace is substantial, rapidly growing, and far-reaching, with connected TV as its latest accelerant But as powerful a tool as programmatic advertising has been for marketers, the programmatic  market has been riddled with material issues, including a lack of transparency (data and  dollars), fractured accountability, and mind-numbing complexity. These issues impair critical  decision-making by marketers, leading to wasteful and unproductive media-buying decisions  and crippled and meaningless analytical capabilities . . . 

“Digital media now accounts for 56 percent of global advertising spending, according to eMarketer.  Numerous studies and papers . . . demonstrate that only 40 to 60 percent of digital dollars  programmatically invested by advertisers find their way to publishers in the form of working media  and audience ad exposure opportunity. And there is additional loss between the  publisher and audience, given ad fraud, viewability issues, latency, and brand safety issues . . . .

“This is a critical concern for marketers who do not have a clear picture of the deployment,  mechanics, delivery, value contributions, or waste factor of their significant investments across,  and at each step of, their programmatic supply chains. Advertisers are subject to arbitrage, markups,  rebates, proprietary and opaque algorithms, data transparency issues, a myriad of dataset costs,  and a plethora of charges that have not been fully exposed . . . .

• Who are we or our suppliers paying? 

• What are we paying for? 

• What do we get? 

• How do we know we got it? 

• What value is created? 

• Where is the waste? 

“The programmatic market is undergoing dramatic change as one of its basic building blocks —  personalization based on third-party cookies — is removed and privacy concerns lead to new  identity solutions. Previously much of the transaction cost of programmatic advertising was sup posedly justified by the ability to precisely target audiences. This needs to be challenged . . . Between the advertiser and the publisher, there is an “unknown delta” of 15 percent of the  advertiser’s programmatic investment — representing one-third of non-working supply chain  costs — that cannot be accounted for.  

“There is still much progress to be made regarding data access, taxonomy differences, impression  matching, and deal ID anomalies, with very low levels of transparency for impression trading  between the various players in the value chain . . . We believe there is substantial waste for advertisers within programmatic advertising. What we  do not know is exactly how much waste there is nor the true sources of it . . . Previous studies  have only examined the Open Web; this exercise will include all forms of programmatic media,  including social media and online video . . . .

“The programmatic supply chain is non-transparent, highly technical, and complex . . . We believe either the waste must stop or fees must be justified as a reasonable cost for the  ROI achieved by advertisers. If fees cannot be justified, we are seeking solutions in the best  interests of advertisers, publishers, and the industry. If programmatic buying is going to justify the investments being made and anticipated, the supply chain must be demystified and  optimized, and waste identified and eliminated.”


Privacy Beat is a weekly email update from the Information Trust Exchange Governing Association in service to its mission. Links and brief reports are compiled, summarized or analyzed by Bill Densmore and Eva Tucker.  Submit links and ideas for coverage to

Share Share

Tweet Tweet

Share Share

Forward Forward




Copyright © 2021 Information Trust Exchange Governing Association, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp