Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

88% of advertisers are unknowingly sharing user data without consent

Compliant™, a compliance technology company for digital marketing, has launched to help brands and publishers across the globe monitor, measure, and benchmark privacy compliance across their digital media supply chain. 

With regulatory scrutiny intensifying in digital marketing, privacy compliance has risen to the top of the C-suite agenda. Brands and publishers must balance the increasing demand for data with rising consumer expectations of transparency, choice and control.  

Many companies are in breach of European, US and international data protection laws without knowing it. A marked shift in regulatory enforcement means that compliance failures are being met with aggressive fines; to date, more than €1.7B in GDPR fines have been levied, with fines rising 40% in 2020/21. Data Protection Authorities started with big tech, before moving on to adtech, and now their sights are on advertisers and publishers. Despite the enormity of the fines being levied against a wide range of companies, the fines represent a fraction of the real cost to business: forensic investigations, external legal fees, improved security measures, lost data, reputational damage, and loss of employee confidence all add up.

Compliant boasts strong senior leadership, including Elliot Bell (ex-Facebook), Magid Souhami (ex-P&G), and Jamie Barnard, who recently left his role as General Counsel for Global Marketing and Media at Unilever to join Compliant as CEO. The Compliant platform gives brands and publishers full transparency of their data supply chain – who has access to it, what they use it for, who they share it with and what they do with it.  

Commenting on the launch, Jamie Barnard, CEO at Compliant, said: “The lack of transparency in the digital media supply chain means that companies have limited visibility of the intermediaries operating on or through their websites, making the ongoing detection and management of unlawful and unethical data practises a significant challenge. Our 2022 audit report, ‘Data Privacy: The Compliance Illusion’ is the largest evaluation of digital marketing compliance ever undertaken, covering over 86 percent of all European web traffic. The results are a wake-up call for the industry, with brands and publishers exposing themselves to regulatory and reputational risk.   We’re here to give companies the tools they need to be compliant in a world of constantly evolving privacy expectations. Current market solutions are not fit for purpose. Automating privacy compliance with an always on platform is the only viable option.”

On launch, the company has published its first report – Data Privacy: The Compliance Illusion –  summarising the results from the Compliant 2022 audit of the world’s top websites. The report reveals the extent to which companies operating within the digital marketing ecosystem are exposing themselves to data compliance risk.

Leveraging its proprietary Data Safety Index™ and automated monitoring of digital media supply chains to audit the world’s leading advertiser and publisher sites, Compliant’s research reveals that while 92 percent of European publishers now operate a CMP, a staggering 81 percent are still passing data before user consent has been received. The average European publisher site contains 27 piggybacked tags. These are third-party tags that are making data calls but are often not authorised or placed within the site by the domain owner.

The average number of data resellers within a European publisher’s site has dropped considerably since GDPR was enacted, however some brand sites still contain up to 18 different data resellers. While 91 percent of European advertisers now employ CMPs on their owned and operated sites, 88 percent of them are installed incorrectly, so data is passing before consent is received and exposing brands to even greater regulator risk.

At a time when consumers are feeling increasingly concerned about being tracked, profiled and targeted, and authorities worldwide are enforcing privacy legislation with punishing fines, the launch of Compliant offers brands and publishers the tools to build a better, safer web.