Are AI Algorithms Breaching Data Privacy? How Organisations Can Protect Campaigns from Wrongful Data Collection

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The growth of artificial intelligence in digital marketing campaigns has created new risks and rewards for companies across the globe. Google introduced Performance Max (PMax) to simplify how companies target audiences with their campaigns but the platform has potentially put marketers at risk of breaching data privacy legislation.

The Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based platform gives marketers the ability to optimise campaigns automatically and push their ads out across multiple channels. The challenge is that AI is still in its infancy in advertising and businesses have to understand the potential risks they’re taking when using AI-based platforms. Control is being taken from marketers’ hands as AI chooses where adverts are shown, creating opportunities for fraud and breaches of data privacy.

This lack of control has allegedly led to ads targeting children without marketers realising. Collecting data from minors breaches the Children’s Online Protection Act (COPPA) in the US and potentially other similar legislation in other markets. Not only has the lack of ad placement control created data privacy concerns, but it has also posed an issue to advertisers wanting to maximise return on investment (ROI) in digital campaigns.

According to Statista, fraudulent traffic caused by bad bot actors accounted for nearly 60% of web traffic in the gaming industry globally last year. With invalid traffic and fraud on the rise, it’s crucial that marketers are getting the most out of their ad budgets. This isn’t possible if organisations don’t have full visibility into the data PMax is obtaining, as it can lead to unreliable data, and in the worst case, breaking privacy laws.

AI Algorithms and Transparency

The goal of Google’s PMax is to relieve the workload of marketers by leveraging AI to automate the distribution of ad budgets. Google uses its real-time data to target new audiences on behalf of marketers. PMax can then spread the users’ ads across its many channels such as YouTube, to vastly improve the ads’ reach. The reliance on the AI algorithm, however, has raised security concerns as users aren’t given full transparency into the inner workings of the system.

While it may initially seem that PMax increases efficiency, it comes with troubling security risks. These came to a head with the recent news that PMax was possibly showing ads to children on YouTube. By clicking on the ads, children would then inadvertently have their data collected, which puts organisations in breach of data privacy laws.

The ’black box’ algorithms used by PMax are machine learning (ML) models that make predictions or decisions for marketers without explaining or showing how they did so. They may seem to have the best interests of users in mind, but marketers are left in the dark about how they work.

Marketers cannot afford to ignore the security and privacy risks that come with using ‘black box’ algorithms. Organisations need to take steps to gain visibility into the data they’re collecting and ensure it’s being gathered from the right audience.

Taking Back Control of Ads from the ‘Black Box’

Marketers need to take charge of their audience targeting and protect themselves from potential data privacy breaches in their campaigns. AI black box solutions like PMax are unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon, so organisations must learn how to properly analyse them.

The main challenge facing marketers using AI advertising platforms is the lack of transparency. To overcome this, it is possible to leverage verification platforms. A transparent and accountable verification platform can offer insight and data accessibility. They can provide a third-party analysis of data to ensure companies are staying within privacy guidelines. With the right platform, marketers not only gain clarity, but also control over their decisions.

Implementing security tools can help marketers make the most of platforms like PMax while managing compliance measures. These tools can bolt on to black box solutions to ensure the correct audience is being targeted. This allows marketers to continue making use of PMax with an added layer of security to prevent them from potentially breaching data privacy laws.

Beyond mere compliance advantages, enhancing one’s understanding of campaign performance can empower marketers significantly. To gain a deeper insight into their data, marketers must craft detailed reports. These reports serve as invaluable tools, unveiling a breakdown of advertising expenditures across various channels.

This newfound knowledge equips organisations with a profound understanding of which campaigns are effective and how to allocate budgets more effectively. This, in turn, enables them to optimise their campaigns and make well-informed decisions for the future. Moreover, it acts as an additional safeguard against fraud, as organisations can proactively scrutinise their data for any signs of suspicious activity and take prompt action.

Providing Security for Future Marketing Campaigns

Transparency is a fundamental requirement for marketers, and presently, solutions such as PMax are struggling to provide it, particularly in terms of privacy compliance for data collection. It becomes the responsibility of organisations to safeguard their own interests by ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations.

Taking a proactive stance and thoroughly analysing their data empowers organisations to mitigate the risks associated with AI solutions. In doing so, they not only protect themselves but also enhance their ability to optimise future campaigns, precisely targeting relevant audiences. This approach provides marketers with the confidence that they can make informed decisions based on dependable data, offering them peace of mind regarding compliance and privacy.

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