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5 things you need to know about privacy regulations and programmatic advertising


February 28, 2022


The digital advertising ecosystem is large and complex. And it’s expanding. Marketers trying to reach their audiences are faced with making sense of a confusing landscape where trillions of real time ad auctions happen every day. According to eMarketer, advertisers in the US increased their spending on programmatic digital ads by 10.4% in 2020, and overall programmatic spend in the US is predicted to hit $96.59B in 2022.

Despite the scale that programmatic advertising has grown to, a study by MIT and University College London show that only 12% of CMPs (Creative Management Platforms) meet the legal minimum requirement for data compliance. It’s vital that you have secure systems and processes in place to protect your customers’ data to prevent unauthorized access – otherwise, you could face consumer distrust and regulatory action, including fines.

In this no-nonsense blog, discover the 5 things you need to know about privacy violations and regulations in regards to your programmatic advertising. We’ll also share how you can easily combat ad violations so you can rest easy and focus on other areas of business.

Data privacy isn’t just a publisher’s problem

It’s not just publishers on the hook for privacy. Consumers have rights in respect to how advertisers use their data as well. Increasing concerns around data privacy highlight the need to increase security and tighten processes when it comes to both collecting and sharing consumer data.

It’s your job to make sure consumers who exercise their rights to opt out of your marketing efforts are truly opted out across all channels and partners. Unfortunately, even the businesses who are doing everything they can to safeguard data can fall prey to incorrect opt ins.

This method of data leakage is due to an incorrect consent signal handoff, and happens when a user's opt out request is not passed between partners. For example, this could happen when a Supply Side Platform (SSP) loses the consent signal and assumes opt in.

But, how do you know when this happens? Well, you can track these consent failures with Boltive Privacy Guard™. Our technology audits your data for risks by verifying your Consent Management Platform (CMP) is handling opt-in and opt-out requests accurately. You can see how many ads are using data sets with consent failures so you can stop them in their tracks.

Consumers are paying attention

Ensuring consumers don’t see ads is just as important as ensuring they do. More people are aware of their rights when it comes to data privacy and they don’t take kindly to their data being shared or used in ways they haven’t consented to. In fact, more consumers worry about data sharing than data theft according to KPMG.

It’s common knowledge that consumers share more data with brands they feel they can trust, so it's in your best interest to make your consumers aware of how hard you work to protect their privacy. Be transparent about how you intend to use their data and make sure you’re avoiding mistakes when using retargeting tools. Your brand reputation depends on it.

Privacy Guard™ emulates your customers by browsing the open web with synthetic user personas. We help you see the whole picture by capturing and aggregating real ads served to these personas in real time, to deliver key insights that keep your consumer data – and brand reputation – safe.

You can be held liable by regulators if your partners misuse or leak your data 

You know that you’re keeping data safe within your enterprise, but can you be sure that your partners are taking it as seriously as you? What starts off as a simple consent signal failure can lead to improperly shared data for retargeting and data skimming, because data syncs are no longer available after the opt-out stage.

In a 2019 report the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) highlighted the risks involved with data partners misusing your data:

 “[T]he scale of the creation and sharing of personal data profiles in RTB appears disproportionate, intrusive and unfair, particularly when in many cases data subjects are unaware that this processing is taking place."

So, as well as being thorough and transparent with consumers, make sure you comb partner contracts thoroughly and clearly address data usage terms and limitations. Then, it’s just as important to regularly audit your partners for compliance with your terms.

Privacy Guard™ does the hard work for you by investigating data skimming by third parties. The Boltive Risk Index (BRI™) scores your ads, partners, data collectors, and user segments to understand at a glance if your partners' data practices are putting you at risk of regulatory action.

Put long term processes in the place to protect yourself and your consumer data

Data privacy isn’t something you “set and forget.” You also can’t assume your data partners are handling privacy for you. Even the best-intentioned partners make mistakes and technology isn’t foolproof. As we mentioned earlier, publishers aren’t the only ones in the firing line. 

If you collect and share data, it’s your responsibility to uphold your own privacy policies and consumers’ legal rights. You must take an active stance with your partners and with your technology to protect your consumers and your brand reputation.

GDPR and California’s CCPA have had a lot of media attention but there are other states that also have privacy laws in place, with more following suit in 2023. Privacy Guard™ helps you stay on top of current and new privacy regulations, including the  CPRA (updated CCPA),Virginia's VCDPA, and Colorado's CPA, so you know you’re not at risk of regulatory action.

As opportunities grow, so do vulnerabilities

It’s a complex moment in our industry and there are a lot of bad actors in the programmatic ecosystem trying to take advantage of it. When the pandemic hit and many advertisers paused their spend, publishers were forced to look in different places to avoid lost revenue. This unfortunately led to a flood of bad ads in the market and a rise in malware incidents including scam ads and data skimming.

Even in 2021 when budgets stabilized and advertisers switched ad spend back on, there were still considerably higher numbers of incidents than in 2020. The Media Trust detected 64% more incidents in Q4 of 2021 than in Q4 of the previous year. 

To avoid your consumer data becoming vulnerable to a malware attack you need to make sure you are only working with partners you trust, but that you also have the tools in place to monitor compliance.

How to protect yourself from regulatory action

Share your data safely and compliantly with Boltive Privacy Guard™, so you spend less time worrying about violations and more time focusing on growing customers and revenue. 

Our patented synthetic audience technology allows our customers to correct gaps before they become liabilities, making us a one-stop solution for protecting your brand reputation and your bottom line.

Discover Privacy Guard™ and get the upper hand on data privacy solutions!

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