UK watchdog: Real-time bidding a world of 'perverse, intrusive incentives'
Nearly a year into the role, the head of tech and innovation at the Information Commissioner's Office, Simon McDougall says he is "kept up at night" by what he's finding in his investigation into how programmatic ads are bought in real-time (Campaign).
- Adtech companies may be purposely gaming the programmatic ad market in order to collect data about internet users
- McDougall says real-time bidding has evolved into a world of "perverse incentives" in which being "intrusive" is rewarded by higher ad prices
- "We've had anecdotal evidence that at times some firms are trying to exploit the Open RTB system to start to build their own databases by delivering low bidding for advertisers," says the data protection watchdog chief. "It's very hard for anybody involved in this world to know exactly who they share data with."
- McDougall admits his team were "surprised" at how ignorant the adtech industry was about how real-time bidding works
- "One thing that has come through to us is that the vast majority, and pretty much every publisher and advertiser, don't like how the current system works."
- The ICO in June warned adtech companies they had six months to start taking action over the way people's data is used in real-time bidding.