Four of us from the PrizeLogic legal team just returned from a great week at the Brand Activation Association’s Marketing Law Conference in Chicago. Over 500 marketing attorneys from brands, agencies, government entities and law firms attended. It was great to catch up with many of the legal teams of our clients, as well as share war stories with our colleagues. However, the main reason we were there was to hear what issues our industry’s legal community are focusing on. Among the top issues our colleagues and clients were discussing were:
Blockchain is the new AI…or is it the new QR Code? One of the hottest topics of conversations during breaks at the BAA was blockchain. What exactly is it and is it the future or just a passing fad. Blockchain technology, made famous by the popularity of cryptocurrency, is being used to create smart contracts among other things. Many think it will revolutionize media buying and more securely record transactions. Basically, a contract using blockchain technology executes based on parameters agreed to by two or more parties (think of a property transaction – if all the parameters are met and verified then the contract would execute). While there is plenty of excitement around the potential use of blockchain technology in the industry, there is also plenty of skepticism. Most contracts by their nature are open to interpretation (that’s why we have so many of us lawyers) so it may be difficult for parties to trust an AI-type technology determine the interpretation of provisions of a contract or whether certain subjective conditions have been met.
Data is Everything – It used to be the customer is king, now it is more the customer’s data is king. Brands are focusing on how to integrate and use the data they receive from disparate sources and integrate it into a single funnel. They are searching for innovative ways they can use this data to be better serve their clients and increase sales and engagement. Our clients are constantly looking to us to help them make full legal use of this data while helping them navigate the legal minefield of data security, storage, and privacy.
Privacy, Privacy, Privacy – 2018 saw two major privacy regulations/laws grab the headlines – the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Both require substantially increased levels of privacy transparency and choice for consumers. The end result is that the industry will need to have more data robust management – including data-mapping, data inventory, and processor management tools and programs. At the heart of both is “disclose, disclose, disclose” – disclose what data you collect, how you use that data, and how consumers can choose what information you have about them. Similar to CAN-SPAM’s “unsubscribe” requirement, the CCPA requires businesses to have a “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” opt-out tool. Transparency and consumer control are the keys under both GDPR and CCPA. Coincidentally, the weekend of the BAA, “60 Minutes” ran a great segment on the GDPR and the potential future of data privacy laws in the USA (link here: https://www.cbs.com/shows/60_minutes/video/lAw6Ut5rvijIYrFqVzT4wcN8SJW8tG90/your-data-ultra-deep-the-pact/).
Hashtag Influencer, Hashtag SponCon – Brands are increasingly turning to social media influencer over traditional celebrities to endorse or be seen with their products or services. YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine (RIP), have all spawned social media stars with whom brands want to be associated, subtly and not so subtly at times. The FTC has been focusing on these relationships between brands and social influencers and cracking down on those who fail to prominently disclose the relationship or connection between the influencer and the brand. If the influencer is given anything of value for the post, it must be disclosed…and conspicuously (e.g., #advertisement, #sponsored). Besides the regulatory compliance issues, brands must also ensure that their agreements with such influencer clearly protect the brand and help the brand meet its goals of the engagement– ensure the influencer leaves the post up, don’t pay the influencer in full until all commitments are made (Snapchat’s PR agency just sued an influencer over this), do full background checks, etc.