12/08/2020

RGRM-Vacation

Your Unforgettable Journey

The Update: Preserving Ad Privacy

0:01 >> MIKE: We’ve seen a change in people’s awareness of 0:04 how their data...

0:01

>> MIKE: We’ve seen a change in people’s awareness of

0:04

how their data is used—and their expectations.

0:06

And that’s actually really a good thing.

0:09

You know, an interesting data point around this is searches for “online privacy”

0:12

have grown globally more than 50 percent year-over-year.

0:18

>> NEHA: In this episode of The Update, I talk with Mike Schulman,

0:20

the head of Ads Privacy and Safety,

0:23

about how Google is working to improve user privacy

0:25

while preserving the ad-supported internet.

0:30

Mike, can you tell us more about your role leading Ads Privacy and Safety at Google?

0:35

My team is really focused on ensuring digital advertising is safe and

0:39

effective so that it works for users, publishers and advertisers,

0:41

and can continue to support the open internet.

0:45

How has the ads team responded to the increased focus on and

0:46

concerns for privacy?

0:50

Privacy isn’t a new priority for Google.

0:52

It’s been a long-time focus and

0:54

we’ve introduced a number of tools over the years

0:56

like, ad settings and activity controls.

0:59

We never sell your information to anyone and

1:02

we don’t use your emails, documents or sensitive information

1:06

like race, religion or sexual orientation for advertising purposes.

1:08

Users really do prefer personalized ads,

1:11

but only if those ads protect their privacy and

1:13

offer transparency and control.

1:15

So we’ve taken steps to increase transparency into

1:17

how digital advertising works,

1:19

offer users additional controls and really ensure that

1:21

people’s choices about their use of data

1:24

are respected and not worked around or ignored.

1:26

Can you tell me a bit more about

1:29

transparency and control—the two of them seem to be linked.

1:34

We consistently hear that users really prefer ads that are relevant to them,

1:37

versus the ads that kind of feel like they’re appearing at random.

1:40

But concerns really arise when people have experiences

1:41

with ads that they can’t understand.

1:45

Like when it’s not clear what information about them is being used

1:46

or what companies are involved.

1:49

So that’s why we offer tools like Why this Ad,

1:51

where from an icon in the ad itself,

1:54

users can get more information on why they’re seeing the ad

1:56

or even choose to stop seeing that ad altogether.

1:59

In this area, we’ll be making improvements to this experience

2:02

including providing more information to the users about the ad,

2:04

like the verified name of the advertiser.

2:07

Mike, you mentioned something important about protecting

2:11

people’s privacy and ensuring that their preferences aren’t worked around.

2:14

What are some of the things that users need protection from?

2:19

Some companies involved in digital advertising use opaque techniques

2:22

to gather data about individual users or track them covertly.

2:25

Fingerprinting, which involves collecting very specific information

2:28

about someone’s browser or their device to identify

2:30

and track them, is just one example.

2:34

But there are other methods that are being used that aren’t clearly disclosed,

2:38

and don’t offer really the transparency control that users expect and need.

2:41

So we believe any attempts that try to track these people

2:43

without permission really should be blocked.

2:48

In talking with a number of advertiser clients and publisher partners,

2:50

I know that most of them want to do right by users,

2:53

and they want to prioritize privacy.

2:56

But they’re also facing the reality of increasing business pressures

2:58

—more so during COVID-19.

3:02

Do you see a trade-off between user privacy and being able to

3:06

deliver on some key advertising and monetization requirements

3:08

that marketers and publishers have?

3:11

It’s important to remember that the ad-supported internet

3:13

really depends on user trust.

3:15

If we continue with some of these practices and

3:17

deliver on some of the experiences of the past,

3:19

we’re actually putting the future of the open internet at risk.

3:23

We’re focused on improving privacy for users

3:25

while also supporting the ad-supported internet.

3:28

That means coming up with alternative ways and new technologies

3:30

to accomplish these key advertising use cases.

3:32

I’m confident that we can do both.

3:34

And it’s not just Google who will do this

3:36

—we’re working across the ads ecosystem and

3:38

the web standards community to make this happen.

3:42

I know that the Chrome Privacy Sandbox is a big part of this plan.

3:44

And for those who aren’t familiar,

3:46

it’s an effort that the Chrome team is leading

3:48

with the web standards community

3:50

to develop a new set of technologies for the web

3:54

that is more privacy-protecting than third-party cookies are.

3:56

What is the latest over there?

3:59

Really good progress.

4:02

Since the Privacy Sandbox was announced last August,

4:05

there have actually been several proposals published for new APIs

4:08

that would solve some of these key advertising use cases

4:11

conversion measurement,

4:15

—all in a way that doesn’t reveal any information

4:16

about individual users

4:19

or keeps that identifying data on the user’s device itself.

4:22

One of the proposed APIs for trust token that could combat ad fraud,

4:25

is actually already being tested by developers

4:28

and I expect that we’ll see more proposed APIs in live testing soon.

4:32

Our ads team is contributing to this dialogue and some of the proposals,

4:35

and we expect to incorporate them in our own product roadmap

4:38

But we can’t solve this alone.

4:40

For this to succeed, we really need the involvement

4:41

of partners across the industry.

4:43

So, it’s been really good to see the proposals

4:45

that other companies have submitted as well.

4:50

What else do you have in the works besides the Privacy Sandbox?

4:54

Within the ads team, we’re exploring a range of other approaches

4:57

to improve user privacy, while still ensuring that publishers can earn

4:59

what they need to fund great content

5:02

and advertisers can still reach the right people for their products.

5:05

For example, we support the use of advertiser first-party data

5:09

to deliver more relevant and helpful experiences across sites

5:13

—as long as users have transparency and control over the use of that data.

5:16

We’re also continuing to invest in machine learning,

5:18

which can be used to make our advertising products work

5:20

without collecting raw data from users’ device

5:23

or help fill in the gaps when data isn’t available.

5:26

For all the marketers and publishers watching this today,

5:29

what tips do you have for them when it comes to investing in first-party data?

5:32

There really aren’t any shortcuts here.

5:34

The more that a business has meaningful,

5:36

direct relationships with a customer,

5:37

the more opportunity they’re going to have.

5:41

that really means using what you know about your customer

5:44

to strengthen those relationships and find new customers like them.

5:48

that means understanding your users and their preferences,

5:49

so you can build better experiences for them,

5:51

both in content and in ads.

5:53

We published two new playbooks

5:54

—one for marketers and

5:58

—with lots of really good suggestions on this topic and real-world examples.

6:01

So, I’d really encourage everyone to go check those out.

6:04

Mike, you shared a lot about Google’s approach,

6:07

but the digital ads ecosystem is a pretty crowded space

6:09

with different companies participating.

6:13

How do you ensure that user experiences improve across the board

6:15

—not just for ads that Google is showing?

6:20

The industry really needs to come together to align on a new set of standards.

6:23

It’s just not enough for one or two companies to change their practices.

6:26

Last year, we shared a proposal for industry-wide privacy norms

6:28

around the use of data for ads

6:30

and we’re now working to revise it based on the feedback we’ve heard.

6:34

We’ve also been working on a new tool to provide people

6:37

with detailed information about the ads they see on the web.

6:39

It’s called the Ad Transparency Spotlight,

6:40

and it’s now available for everyone to try out

6:42

as an extension in the Chrome web store.

6:44

We’d really love to hear feedback from folks,

6:45

so let us know what you think.

6:46

Thanks for the insights Mike.

6:47

This has been great.

6:49

Do you have any final thoughts to share?

6:53

I think a lot of people might be feeling uneasy right now.

6:54

We’re in a period of transition,

6:56

and there’s still a lot of uncertainty about

6:58

what the end state for privacy and ads will look like.

7:00

On top of that, we have all the business pressure

7:02

that has intensified because of COVID.

7:05

But really, we’re asking you—please don’t sit on the sidelines

7:07

or continue with kind of business as usual.

7:11

Make sure your organization is having an active discussion about privacy.

7:14

Contribute your perspective to some of these industry forums

7:16

and take steps now to really prepare for the future.