We exchanged emails for this interview and it has been slightly condensed and edited.
Marc Goldberg: Dean tell me about your story.
Dean Shapero: I’ve been around this industry for quite some time now. My first introduction into the martech world was when I was still in college. While I was a senior, I met an entrepreneur through some mutual friends that was building a dynamic creative software. We hit it off and I ended up working for him to bring the software to market. After several years at the venture, I eventually decided to bring my tech background into the publisher world and joined Rodale, which was the company behind titles like Men’s Health and Runners World. I started and built out Rodale’s data-targeting business until it was acquired by Hearst. And then at Hearst, I helped start a fascinating project that linked the datasets from our various divisions and joint ventures. And as you can imagine when it comes to data sharing at a large company, this meant I spent a lot of time with lawyers and dealing with the legal requirements surrounding data.
MG: So a lot of attention in the privacy space but you have identified an area in the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) that is impacting companies without them even understand what is going on. Can you tell me where your company is focused?
DS: Privacy compliance is a red-hot topic that’s frequently discussed, but there’s been considerably less attention on some of the downstream impact that these new laws are having. One of the most critical is what I call ‘marketing compliance’, and its the rise of platforms enforcing their own privacy requirements that businesses are required to follow before flighting campaigns.
In my opinion, the most important of these platform-enforced requirements is Facebook’s Limited Data Use. This is a relatively new privacy setting where businesses are required to tell Facebook how to handle each site visitor’s data. Basically, Facebook is saying ‘you, as the business owner, need to tell us who we can and cannot target’. The reason this has emerged as such a big issue is because it requires front-end code changes and implementing them incorrectly can result in devastating business impact. For example, its very easy to accidentally tell Facebook ‘remove every user from my retargeting campaigns’. And you can imagine how much revenue-loss that could cause.
We automate these types of marketing compliance requirements and monitor our customers’ websites to make sure they are always working properly.
MG: So in this scenario, Facebook is doing exactly what they should be doing, however site owners are not interpreting the need?
DS: Exactly. It requires both a technical understanding of how to implement Facebook parameters on page and a privacy understanding of the current legislations to properly inform Facebook how to handle data. The combination of those factors are way too burdensome for the average website owner. That’s what has led to such a prevalent misconfiguration of these compliance requirements, which, in turn, has led to a serious loss in revenue for a lot of businesses.
MG: So you are seeing the errors, how much impact can this be for a site owner?
DS: There’s a lot of ways a business can accidentally break these marketing compliance requirements, with a varying amount of financial impact. In some scenarios, website owners accidentally remove California visitors from the majority of their campaigns, which obviously has a huge impact for many businesses that have a high amount of California customers. In even more dramatic situations, businesses accidentally stop all of their retargeting from delivering. For businesses like e-commerce companies, who rely on retargeting so much, this essentially eliminates the top revenue-driving tactic on paid social campaigns.
MG: Are you protecting them from fines?
DS: Yes, in addition to protecting businesses from financial loss stemming from marketing non-compliance, we also help them with the legal side of privacy as well. Whether its CCPA or any other emerging geo-based privacy law, we automate the legal requirements to protect our customers from any fines. Our goal is that our customers can focus on running their business and we can focus on giving them peace of mind that all things privacy are handled.
MG: Does this apply to Google and other social channels too?
DS: Google has introduced similar requirements called Restricted Data Processing and we’re expecting other channels like Snapchat to follow this trend too. It seems logical to think that anywhere you intend on bringing your customer data, you’ll have responsibility to handle it properly and comply with each platform’s requirements.
MG: This is CCPA specific, do other state laws have this issue today? What about, tomorrow?
DS: There is certainly a nation-wide trend of privacy regulation. Virginia just passed their own regulation similar to CCPA and a lot of other states have laws in the proposal phase. The state-by-state regulations will keep coming until there’s enough pressure to mandate a federal law. And with this being such a discussed topic, I’m expecting a federal law to arrive sooner than later.
MG: You are in NYC, I heard NYC is dead. Is it?
DS: NYC is back and better than ever! With the warm weather and everything starting to open up again, there’s a ton of exciting energy in the city right now. I think we’re in for really great stretch up ahead and throughout 2021. Fingers crossed I’m right.
MG: Assuming everything is better and everything is open. What is bar you would go to and what is in your hand and on the big screen
DS: I’m happy anywhere I can have a bourbon in hand and the Mets on TV. Sometimes I like to get fancy and go for an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, but typically I’m a simple man and just enjoy trying some interesting bourbon neat.