Responsible Use of Data Helps Grow Our Industry

Kristen Fergason
March 29, 2011 — 1,853 views  
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Last week at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Annual Leadership Meeting, “The People vs. Data,” the IAB made announcements on two very important issues for their members.

  • First, the IAB board of directors adopted a Code of Conduct, furthering its member’s commitment to the self-regulation initiative for online behavior advertising that has become a national topic of interest. This comes in conjunction with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) announcement of their goal to ensure that all people in the industry are compliant with current behavioral guidelines.
  • Second, they announced the formation of the Data Council, which will be dedicated to bringing transparency to the methods in which the industry gathers and uses data for the purpose of interactive advertising.

As an industry marketer and member of the group who helped shape the new IAB Code of Conduct, I am thrilled and proud to see this all put into action.

Personally, I find it helpful when an advertiser selects me for a campaign that enhances my daily life or saves me time or money. For instance, deals on baby diapers, tips for new moms and ideas for great foods for toddlers are all things that have come my way from my investment in registering and visiting sites before I had my daughter a little more than a year ago. It’s the same for my in-store purchases where I receive a coupon at checkout, or receive a physical piece of mail for those same items once I have registered for their keycard program. I believe in sharing information on my terms for the purpose of making my life easier, and generally speaking, to have a more relevant life experience, both online and offline.

Recently I joined ShareThis, a company who helps people share information across the Web by providing sharing tools for publishers. We provide information to our partners about what people are sharing in order to help them make better editorial and marketing decisions. This makes the experience for their customers more relevant, useful and social.

As an avid Web user and a marketer, I believe that it is extremely important that the practices behind collecting and utilizing data are consistent and transparent across the industry, and self-regulated. The rich, relevant and targeted experiences that can be delivered across the Web today are a function of what we see as part of the desire for an evolving conversation between consumers and brands. As a consumer myself, I am thoroughly enjoying the amazing experiences being developed every day, especially in the mobile space. They make my life more interesting and easy. The self-regulation initiatives such as the ones by the BBB and IAB that are supported by our industry will help us to continue that evolution, and, I believe, create even more compelling and useful experiences over time.

That’s why I’m happy to announce that as CMO of ShareThis and a member of the IAB’s Data Council, I will be leading one of three tracks that the IAB established as 2011 priorities for the council: : Marketer & Agency Education. I will work with the IAB and their members to create a compelling education membership within the industry. With so much attention on the issues around privacy and control—now more than ever—it’s crucial that the industry helps educate users, as well as clarify the process of data collection and usage. I am excited to help the IAB and its members continue making the case for a more transparent and self-regulated digital life.


How do you feel about the self-regulation program? What steps are you or your business taking to make your data collection practices compliant with industry goals and more transparent to your customers? Would you like to be involved in our education initiative? Send me your comments.

Kristen Fergason is CMO of ShareThis and member of IAB’s newly-formed Data Council.
[email protected]

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Kristen Fergason