Canadians condemn DoubleClick profiling plans

Canadian reaction to the conundrum of DoubleClick - the New York-based Internet advertising firm that was forced to backtrack on its plans to provide marketers with the names of anonymous Web surfers - has been swift and unequivocal. What the company...

Canadian reaction to the conundrum of DoubleClick – the New York-based Internet advertising firm that was forced to backtrack on its plans to provide marketers with the names of anonymous Web surfers – has been swift and unequivocal. What the company was proposing was wrong, say industry representatives, and would have backfired eventually.

John Gustavson, president of the Canadian Marketing Association, says Canadian consumers are already concerned about their privacy and security on the Net, and DoubleClick’s proposal to link online movements to a massive consumer database only exacerbates the problem.

‘It’s the sort of thing that does nothing to help e-commerce, acts as an impediment to its growth, and can lead to restrictive legislation.

‘If you want to sell somebody something, you have to make them feel comfortable,’ he adds. ‘And that means it is in your own best interest to make your privacy policy highly visible.’

Nancy Lee Jobin, president of Graffiti Direct & Promotion in Toronto, adds that profiling itself is a useful and respected business practice – provided the consumer understands it’s being done.

‘Profiling goes on in many industries, and if people know they are being profiled, it’s OK,’ she says. ‘But opting in (giving permission) has to be the way to go.’

David Jones, president of Electronic Frontier Canada in Kitchener, Ont., says that what made DoubleClick’s practice especially dubious is that it went on without the consumer being aware of it. ‘There is not the usual knowledge and consent you should have when someone is collecting personal information,’ he says. ‘This is one of the reasons why the Canadian government is going to pass Bill C-6 (privacy legislation designed to protect personal information collected during the course of e-commerce activities).’

George Gonzo, sales and marketing manager for Calgary-based CyberSurf – one of a handful of Internet service providers (ISPs) that offer free Internet access to their subscribers in return for the customer’s permission to market to them – took a dim view of DoubleClick’s practices.

‘We believe an individual’s privacy is sacrosanct,’ he says.

CyberSurf’s customers register by filling out a 30-question survey. The data is aggregated according to demographics. Marketers send messages on that basis – not based on individual responses.

‘We think that’s a pretty fair trade-off,’ adds Gonzo. ‘If [the consumer doesn't] agree with someone’s practices, eventually the clock will run out on them. People will cancel their accounts or move their business elsewhere.’

In a keynote address at Strategy’s recent Online to Profit conference, Nathan Estruth of Procter & Gamble’s I-Ventures unit said all marketers should take DoubleClick’s recent comeuppance as a warning.

‘The consumer is in charge,’ he said. ‘They dictate how and where we use their data. That is not the mind-set we are used to dealing with. We need to build a new kind of trust with consumers and regulators where the consumer allows us to enter their world and remember information for them, not about them.

‘If we don’t go there, the week that (DoubleClick CEO) Kevin O’Connor had last week is soon coming upon us.’

In the face of mounting pressure from privacy advocates and legal experts, O’Connor last week issued a public statement, saying: ‘It is clear…that I made a mistake by planning to merge names with anonymous user activity across Web sites in the absence of government and industry privacy standards.’

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.