Catalyst S+F: Baby, U Wanna Go Private? - Jim Nichols - MediaBizBloggers

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I thought I'd use a come-on headline simulating the start of a steamy private chat session to catch your attention. Sorry, I know it's a dirty deception. No pun intended. But I did it because I'm on a personal mission to get our industry to care about privacy and to embrace the Cross Industry Coalition's Power i program. At ad:tech SF I jumped up and down on a stage saying "You have to care about this." That's how important I think it is.

Yes, privacy. You hate talking and reading about it. Five will get you ten that you've already stopped reading and found some link on this page to click on to get away from the p word. For ten years our industry has been more or less dodging this issue because it's complicated and makes everyone feel a little dirty.

But the FTC is demanding that we care, especially (but not exclusively) as regards BT. They're doing this in part because about 2/3 of consumers say that a perceived lack of online privacy troubles them.

Here's the ultimatum: care or risk BT and other forms of targeting getting heavily regulated. Or maybe shut down.

BTW, a BT shutdown would decimate more than a few pubs that depend on higher CPMS from BT inventory to keep the lights on. It would also kill off one of the biggest growth engines of digital spending. DR would suffer big time. And branding too, because finding in-market eyeballs for brand messages is pretty darned important in some of our biggest categories.

Our industry gets it. The CBBB, IAB, AAAAs, DMA, and ANA have gotten together to develop the Power i program that notifies consumers when BT is used to deliver an ad to them, gives them information about BT, and gives them choice.

You put a small Power i on your BT ads. And the consumer has the option to click on it and find out about the data and companies used to put the ad in front of her. She can read it, and do nothing. Or click again and read more. Or she can opt out of some or all targeting.

You as a BT advertiser use the i to extend the same level of trust to the consumer that she extends to you when she buys your brand.

By using the Power i, you are saying to her, 'I respect you. I know that your data and interests are yours, not mine. I ask that you allow me to use anonymous information to find you and put things in front of you that you'll probably be interested in. I won't force you to let me do this. Because I value our relationship.'

A CSF client makes this discovery and choice process easy and clear and decidedly unscary. Called Better Advertising (AdAge's analysis here,) it makes the post click experience easy, straightforward and clear. Their technology is also vigilant in ensuring that her wishes are respected. BA even makes sure that your brand gets the credit for this transparency and choice.

I'll take bets that the people who click on the i will like you more for being straight up with them. And that very few people will actually opt out.

Now, there's no law that says you have to use Power i-s. You can trust her and demonstrate your concern for her wishes. Or you can do nothing and give her a reason to question your methods and fundamentally your regard for her dignity as a free person.

Personally, I prefer to do business with people and institutions that treat me with dignity. How about you?

Jim Nichols is a Partner and Chief Strategist at Catalyst S+F. He can be reached at

Read all Jim's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at The Marketing Capital Report - MediaBizBloggers.

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