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AdTech

We advise clients across the advertising life cycle, supporting them to maximise campaign efficiency, manage regulatory compliance, and grow dataset value in innovative and effective ways.

The AdTech industry has been the subject of regulatory attention for years in both the UK and the EU. Highlights include the UK ICO’s investigation into real time bidding (RTB), massive fines issued by the French CNIL in relation to the use of cookies and US-based website analytics tools, and the Belgian DPA’s compliance action against IAB Europe’s Transparency and Consent Framework, used by much of the industry across Europe. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission is actively seeking to understand how major social media and streaming platforms collect and use consumer data for advertising. We support clients active in this space as they navigate this myriad web of regulatory scrutiny, and adapt their business models to collect and monetise data in compliance with the evolving rules.

Linklaters have one of the longest-standing privacy practices in the world, and act on some of the largest and most high profile AdTech enforcement actions. Our privacy team also works closely with our Antitrust and Foreign Investment Group, reflecting the joint approach of privacy and competition regulators in this space (such as the ICO and CMA in the UK) and the tension between the protection of personal data and transparent, open markets. In addition, our deep expertise in data protection is integrated with technology and commercial contracts know-how, so we can give holistic and pragmatic solutions to clients operating within this highly regulated, fast-paced industry. Our footprint in context of AdTech is uniquely global, with real strength and privacy capability across the US, Asia and Europe, which allows us to provide seamless international support to our clients, because we know their businesses are truly global.

Clients benefit from our breadth of expertise, which includes advising:

iHeart

on this portfolio of companies’ compliance with global data-related laws, including privacy impact assessments, tackling international data transfers, podcast distribution, AdTech transactions, and supporting on the launch of “SmartAudio,” which provides brands with more effective ways to reach their audiences.
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Experian

on its long running enforcement action by the UK information commissioner, one of the most significant investigations and enforcements pursued by the ICO in recent years, including in relation to its appeal at the UK first tier tribunal. With our support Experian’s marketing service business is the only such business which has been the subject of this regulatory investigation which has not closed down.
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The Internet Association

on its intervention in the appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court in relation to Lloyd v Google, a landmark judgment in the area of privacy class actions in which the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court, reflecting the position sought by our client.
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A leading global social media platform

on its defence of two representative action claims brought in relation to the alleged breach of its data protection obligations on behalf of a class of c. 1 million affected data subjects. We supported this client throughout the case, from assistance with correspondence, preservation and fact-finding, to general support in relation to high-profile threatened litigation.
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A US head quartered AdTech company

on cross-device advertising and content delivery, to allow customers to better target their adverts to consumers across multiple devices. We also supported this client in successfully dealing with an audit by the ICO as part of its investigation into the AdTech industry, following which no substantial action was taken against our client.
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A leading UK customer loyalty programme

on the privacy implications of its use of advertising technology, including considering key strategic collaborations with identity aggregation providers such as LiveRamp and potential advertising campaigns run via Sky AdSmart, Facebook and Google.
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A leading Smart TV vendor

on the innovative use of TV usage data (and data from other sources) to target advertising on the Smart TV across the EU. We advised this client on all their contracting arrangements and regulatory analysis for advertising space on their Smart TVs, and on related data exchanges across the whole of Europe.
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CRISP Thinking (the innovative UK technology business)

on all aspects of its online content moderation technology, which is central to the social media industry, being widely used by the largest players in this space. Our advice spanned all aspects of GDPR compliance, including international data transfer strategies, transparency requirements, managing data subject rights, data protection impact assessments and privacy by design.
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Two large global conglomerates

on the use of device IDs, cookie IDs and other technologies to produce insights in customer bases of several hundred million individuals each (including advising on commercial arrangements with third parties such as Zeotap and Acxiom).
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A global media group

on the collection of device IDs in physical spaces in order to target advertising in those spaces more effectively. Our advice focused on GDPR and e-privacy compliance, in particular the challenges of achieving fairness and transparency.
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Further resources

GDPR fine sends shockwaves across the adtech industry

The Belgian Data Protection Authority has concluded that the Transparency and Consent Framework, which is used across the adtech industry, violates the GDPR. If upheld on appeal, the decision will affect the entire adtech ecosystem.

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AdTech sector under scrutiny for abuse of dominance - first fine issued in France

Over the recent years, Google being investigated over abusive practices stemming from its dominant position almost comes as no surprise. However, a decision made this summer by the French competition authority, Autorité de la Concurrence, has directly tackled the issue of abuse of dominance in online advertising.

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Regulating the Digital Economy Series: Session 3 – Digital Advertising

In the following session in our Regulating the Digital Economy Virtual Series, we will focus on digital advertising.

AdTech is under continued scrutiny from competition and privacy regulators in the UK, EU and the US, and there have been calls for fundamental change to the way the industry operates. The EU’s legislative proposals for the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, as well as recent action taken in relation to third party cookies and tracking technology, provide further momentum for change.

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