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The ACCC is challenging industry ethics - it's time to step-up

By Isabelle Dunn - Chief Digital Officer - Hearts & Science

12 August 2019 2min read

Isabelle Dunn

Hearts & Science Chief Digital Officer, Isabelle Dunn

By Isabelle Dunn - Chief Digital Officer - Hearts & Science

12 August 2019 2min read

With the dust beginning to settle following the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) final report on Digital Platforms review, we hope the sheer magnitude of what lies ahead has genuinely resonated with the industry.

Last week, the Audited Media Association of Australia’s Annual Media Trust Research showed that of approximately 500 adland executives, 43% said they had never heard of the ACCC preliminary report. If that is the case, we have to step it up and take a more active role in informing and supporting clients.

The inquiry itself was far reaching and covered Google, Facebook, the Australian news and advertising sector and included an inquiry into ad tech services and advertising agencies, broader reforms of Australian privacy law, a statutory cause of action for serious invasions of privacy - and more.
This also isn’t just a “Facebook and Google thing”, this is also a data and privacy compliance crackdown that will impact anyone who deals with consumer data; from brands to agencies, media owners, publishers, the government and beyond. It will no doubt bring Australia into line with elements of the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the CCPA (California Consumer privacy Act) as well as new, proposed or amended laws in a further 24 countries around the world.

While the weight of the ACCC’s complex 600-page report and its lofty 23 recommendations may seem like a lot to take on, it’s important that this doesn’t overshadow how fundamental the cause really is and the fact that the report deals with far broader matters than just data privacy. The broad principles of the report are clear, it’s about making the marketplace more ethical and sustainable for all parties involved. It is also about improving transparency, competitiveness, reporting, digital literacy and fair-trading practices. 

This world is set to change if the ACCC recommendations are accepted, with a rebalance towards straightforward, upfront, considerate and fair practices. 

If you don’t know how to view the recommendations in relation to the data you have, then break it down and look to these four key principles.
1.    Intention: Be clear, fair and considerate. Not deceptive, no hidden agenda.
2.    Full disclosure: Be honest, truthful and accessible. Transparent commercial terms. 
3.    Equal opportunity: For global, local, smaller and traditional players alike. 
4.    Freedom of choice: To opt-in or not, to use your service provider of choice.

As an example, the initial premise of Cambridge Analytica strategic approach to granular targeting was not in itself the issue. However, intent, lack of disclosure, equal opportunity and freedom of choice were all clearly compromised in the way data was collected and activated against in the context of the Brexit and Trump campaigns. Unethical use of data created a worldwide news story and the largest fine in US corporate history.  

We believe we should all strive for a more ethical and sustainable approach towards data and advertising. We should all talk the same language and not play on the edge. If it’s murky, forced, confusing or misleading – it’s probably not ethical. 

In relation to the ACCC final report, for us, we say bring it on and let's lift the tide together. This can only boost the sector and raise the bar. However, let’s ensure as an industry we all wakeup to what is happening, that we avoid the jargon around it, we keep it simple and above all, remember that it’s common sense when it comes to having strong values and ethics around data and privacy.

Hearts & Science is a data-driven marketing agency born out of the programmatic era and has embraced transparency from the get-go.  This was a part of our USP and has resonated well with advertisers wanting full transparency over cost and the programmatic supply chain. 

To help our clients understand, navigate and prioritise the recent ACCC Digital Platform Inquiry Report, we have developed an Actions Summary Matrix. If you need help preparing for the changes, or would like to access the document above, feel free to send us an email at for a free copy.

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By Isabelle Dunn - Chief Digital Officer - Hearts & Science

12 August 2019 2min read

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