January 09, 2021

What Is PRAM?

PRAM is a joint-industry initiative to advance and protect critical functionalities like measurement and attribution for digital media and advertising, while safeguarding privacy and improving the consumer experience. With Google’s announcement in January that they would be ending support of third-party cookies in Chrome in two years and Apple’s recent announcement changing IDFA tracking to opt-in in iOS 14, it’s become increasingly clear that privacy and data usage is increasingly moving towards a proprietary, non-interoperable framework. The ramifications of this could be substantial to the digital advertising ecosystem resulting in not only the walled gardens getting higher, but also a fragmented landscape of privacy frameworks requiring advertisers to keep track of the intricacies of compliance requirements across browsers, operating systems, platforms etc.

Who Is Involved In PRAM?

PRAM is led by a governing group including: 4A’s, ANA, IAB, IAB Tech Lab, NAI, WFA, Ford, General Motors, IBM, P&G, Unilever, UM, Publicis Media, Hearst, NBC Universal, Adobe MediaMath and The Trade Desk.

PRAM also includes four separate working groups. All four working groups will be populated by advertisers, agencies, publishers and ad tech companies pulled from the membership of the 4A’s, IAB, IAB Tech Lab, ANA, NAI, and WFA.

  •     Business Practices – This working group will focus on identifying what specific business use cases will need to be identified and preserved in any final solution (i.e. measurement, attribution, etc.).
  •     Technical Standards – This working group will create and operationalize technical standards to support any final solution. This working group will be led by the IAB Tech Lab.
  •     Privacy, Policy And Legal Considerations – This working group will survey the current landscape of domestic privacy laws and regulations and work to create a final solution that is not only in compliance with current law, but also flexible enough to survive future laws and regulations.
  •     Communications & Education – This working group will engage in industry-wide communication and education once a final solution is developed.

What Are The Guiding Principles Of PRAM?

  •     Consumer privacy should remain a foundational principle of the solution by providing consumers with meaningful transparency and control.
  •     Solutions should be standardized and interoperable for consumers and businesses across browsers, devices, and platforms, subject to applicable privacy laws and guidelines.
  •     All browsers, devices, and platforms should allow equal access, free from unreasonable interference, to the new solutions.
  •     Companies that utilize the resulting solutions should follow industry and legal privacy standards, with strong accountability and enforcement for those that violate the standards.

What Are The Challenges And Opportunities For PRAM?

The goal of PRAM is to avoid the emerging structural risk of a patchwork of conflicting proprietary policies around addressability by the handful of companies that control browsers and operating systems (also known as “proprietary vs. predictable” privacy). While some companies in this space have not traditionally been ones to come to the table to work with industry on these issues (i.e. Apple), others have (i.e. Google). While Apple did recently announce that they would be delaying their changes to IDFA until next year, it’s become increasingly clear that this is likely only a temporary reprieve.

During the IDFA reprieve and before Google moves forward with its Chrome changes, PRAM has a window of opportunity to forge a third path forward. This third path could not only establish an equitable baseline between browsers/operating systems vs. the rest of the digital advertising ecosystem, it could also potentially result in a win for everyone involved by alleviating some of the antitrust pressures the browsers and operating systems are facing. This will be a delicate needle to thread in 2021, but the window of opportunity is there for all involved.


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