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Q&A: Jennifer Barrett Glasgow, global privacy leader, Acxiom Corp.

Jennifer Barrett Glasgow, global privacy leader, Acxiom Corp., discusses privacy concerns among global marketers.

Q: Privacy is one of the most time-consuming concerns among global marketers today. How can marketers get a handle on this issue??

A: First, they need to realize that we live in an ever growing global economy. We still have very different cultural and in some cases legal requirements to follow. You need to be sensitive to each region and country. Also, try to understand what those differences are and whether they are things where I can take a common denominator and live with it across the world, or is it worth my while to acknowledge and work with the regional differences.?

One example is in the email world, where — in the U.S. — the use of email for marketing is on an opt-out basis, in accordance with the CAN-SPAM Act. In Europe, there is an opt-in requirement. The marketer has a choice: Do I want to establish a higher standard of opt-in for all regions and have to manage the differences in each country I wouldn’t have if I said, ‘OK, I will just live with opt-in.’?

Q: Which of those is most typical??

A: It varies with the marketer. I think the higher standard hurts a company wanting to prospect more than it does the company looking to do promotions, because they limit their access to those people. Using cookies is another example. Europe is opt-in and most of the world is opt-out. That’s where having a really strong vendor to help you with knowing what the regulations are or having a strong in-house privacy compliance ?department can help you.?

Q: Are there parts of the world where data protection and privacy are more a struggle for marketers??

A: I don’t know if I would characterize it as a struggle. We’ve got ?different regions with different rules, and you develop your marketing systems and marketing approaches based on those rules. What makes it a struggle is if you have to manage it country by country. You want to do it this way in Spain and this way in France, and this way in Canada, Mexico or China. And a lot of marketers want to do that because it maximizes the opportunities in those countries, and they have to some degree, respect those social and regional differences in language and in other ways, not just privacy. Germany is one country that has stricter requirements than the rest of Europe, which as a whole has stricter regulations than, say, Canada or the U.S. In Asia, it runs the gamut, from restrictive to ?no laws at all. ?

Q: How do you see the issue of data and privacy protection evolving??

A: I think we’re going to continue to add regulations where there aren’t any. We won’t have any new regulations in the U.S. this year. We may have a security breach bill, but no big privacy bill this year. It is one of those subjects where as long as there is concern by people or policymakers that consumers are at risk, it’s not going to go away until that risk is dealt with. We do have — and the U.S. is leading the way — a model of self-regulation. ?

I would point you to the behavioral Advertising Option Icon created by the Direct Marketing Association and seven other large associations after they came together to form the Digital Advertising Alliance. That’s a self-regulation initiative that is a wonderful example of the industry seeing a complicated problem and then stepping up to do something about it. Because of that, regulators have backed off a bit. It is an outstanding example of where the industry has a wonderful chance to self-regulate. ?

Even if it doesn’t remain self-regulated forever, it will be the basis for where we pass laws, as opposed to lawyers and people on Capitol Hill trying to tell our industry what it should do without understanding how marketing operates. Self-regulation is back in vogue.?

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