This was the most important conversation at the LUMA Digital Media Summit


On May 14, we attended the Luma Digital Media Summit, an event that separates itself from similar events through its sheer volume of heavy-hitters, and the ideas these heavy-hitters bring to the table.

There were CEO’s, COOs, and EVPs from The New York Times, Axios, Snap, Verizon, Accenture, Publicis, and GroupM, among others. The keynotes and firesides had information — good information — and, in general, we can report that the future of the digital media business is as chaotic and full of abundant opportunity as ever.

In addition to the light discussion around IPOs, market pressures, Uber, and China, there was lots of talk around the consolidation of media players, and big mobile companies buying content companies so they can acquire users.

But the most interesting conversations were around identity and privacy.

“A lot of this modern marketing ecosystem revolves around data and identity,” said Terry Kawaja, LUMA Partners CEO. “It’s at the hub of all of these strategies in terms of figuring out who your likely customers are, and how to address them.”

Indeed, data and identity have been at the center of the marketing conversation for some time.  Also at the center of the conversation: privacy. And when it comes to how most companies approach this second issue, all you have to do is look at the big three.

As Axios recently pointed out, Google, Facebook, and Apple all look at privacy through different lenses. For Apple, it’s about “keeping your personal data between you and your device.” For Facebook, it means “limiting who can see what you post or send.” For Google, it’s now “an option that you can invoke.”

More companies, from publishers to brands to advertising firms, are trying to define their privacy policies against one of these three models.

Most advertising companies’ privacy policies look a lot like Google’s: they give users the option to invoke their right to privacy. How these companies articulate these policies to users and advertisers will help shape their future.

Right now, there are regulations around data and privacy, but not enough. There’s no unified national data privacy law (even though there should be). The regulatory environment is loose, despite the upcoming enactment of the California Consumer Privacy Act. At the Digital Media Summit, the consensus seemed to be that national data privacy won’t get any stricter, at least in the next 18 months.

Still, companies need to keep data privacy top-of-mind. Beyond a well-defined privacy policy being the obvious and right thing to uphold, companies are facing a groundswell of pressure from consumers and advertisers to be transparent about how they use data and offer plenty of opportunities to opt out of things like location tracking.

In short: there is an absolute need for all companies to be more aware of how they’re using data and working with it. For all of the talk around IPOs, China, and large players gobbling up smaller ones, data privacy was the most prescient topic at LUMA’s Digital Media Summit.

Regardless of what the regulatory landscape looks like now or 18 months from now, if you’re a company that deals in data, you need to do it the right way. That’s why we’re focused on the ethical use of data — and we’ll continue to be.

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