Friday Wake-Up Call: California's new data privacy law, and Facebook and Twitter's transparency push

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Credit: iStock/Sam Edwards

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device. Search for "Ad Age" under "Skills" in the Alexa app. What people are talking about today: California just passed a new data privacy law that's being described as sweeping and historic. "The law will compel companies to tell customers upon request what personal data they've collected, why it was collected and what categories of third parties have received it," The Associated Press says. People can also ask companies to erase their information, and prevent them from selling it. The law, which has some parallels to the European Union's new GDPR privacy regulations, takes effect in January 2020. Because it would be impractical for companies to use two standards -- one for California and one for all the other states -- California's law could potentially become the "privacy template for the rest of the nation," The Wall Street Journal says. In general, this is another sign of increased attention to data privacy after high-profile scandals like the one involving now-defunct political data firm Cambridge Analytica.
What's next: Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill Thursday. But because it doesn't go into effect until 2020, The Washington Post says there's still "time for corporate critics such as AT&T, Comcast, Facebook and Google to resume lobbying aggressively to revise it over the next year."

Transparency
Facebook and Twitter both announced new ad transparency measures. First, a look at Facebook's move: The controversy over online ads during the 2016 U.S. election has pushed Facebook to get more transparent about all the advertising that appears on its platform. As Ad Age's Garett Sloane writes, people can "click on a brand's page and see every ad it is currently promoting on the social network as well as Instagram, Messenger and the broader Facebook ad network."
That means companies will have easy access to info about what their rivals are up to. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg acknowledges that some have "concerns that their competitors are going to then see all of their ads" as well as about "just making it easier for their competitors to see what kind of ads they're running."
Publishers, meanwhile, aren't happy that paying to promote their political headlines will land them in the same political ad archive that Facebook has built for campaigns from advocacy groups and candidates.
Meanwhile at Twitter: "Twitter opened its 'ad transparency center,' which will also reveal all ads run by any brands or political organizations over a seven-day period," Sloane writes.

Data, data, data
Acxiom is selling its data-marketing division, and The Wall Street Journal says Interpublic Group and Dentsu were expected to bid before the deadline closed Thursday. The business for sale "represents about three-quarters of Acxiom's total revenue in fiscal 2018 and specializes in housing and managing reams of customer data from clients such as retailers and financial-services firms," the Journal says. Customer data is an increasingly strategic area for agency groups, though the data industry is also being watched more carefully lately (see above, re: California's new privacy law, GDPR and the outrage over Cambridge Analytica). Acxiom was in the news a few months back when Facebook said it would stop using data from third-party data companies including Acxiom and Experian. Facebook said at the time it believed the move would help protect user privacy.

Pioneer
Former ad exec and creative Anne Tolstoi Wallach, who wrote a bestselling novel in the 1980s about a woman fighting sexism to rise through the ranks of Madison Avenue, has died at age 89, The New York Times reports. Wallach, whose book was called "Women's Work," worked at agencies including J. Walter Thompson and Grey, where she was VP and creative supervisor. People magazine's archive has an article about her from 1981, when her book came out, which is worth reading. An excerpt:

"Wallach wryly remembers that when her family of three children began arriving in 1952, she 'had my babies in my own vacation time. Two weeks off for the first son; three weeks for the second because I had worked longer by then.'"

Wallach's book got an advance of $850,000, which the Times says was believed to be a record at the time for a first-time novelist.

Just briefly:
Maryland:
The suspect in the shooting deaths of five employees at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md., had a "vendetta" against the publication and had lost a defamation case against it, The Washington Post reports.

Pharmacy shakeup: Amazon is buying online pharmacy company PillPack for about $1 billion, "making it a direct threat to the more than $400 billion pharmacy business," The Wall Street Journal says.

Goodbye: Verizon is shutting down Go90, which tried to draw young viewers with short-form video content, Bloomberg News reports, adding that the service had "struggled to attract viewers in an era of Snapchat and Instagram and failed to generate enough ad revenue."

Gizmodo: Forty-four staffers at Gizmodo Media Group are taking buyouts, The Daily Beast reports, adding that its sources say the deals are expected to help the company avoid layoffs for now.

Another data breach: Adidas is alerting millions of customers about a possible breach of user data on its U.S. website, Bloomberg News reports. The company says it doesn't believe credit card data was accessed.

Nike: Its revenue rose 13 percent in the fourth quarter, despite "months of internal turmoil for the brand stemming from complaints of a poisonous work environment for female staffers, a boys' club culture and a mass exodus of several executive-level employees," writes Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli.

New hire: Havas-owned agency Arnold "has named Kiran Smith -- a former Brookstone CMO who also worked at Accenture and Alliance Consulting Group -- as its new CEO," Ad Age's Megan Graham reports.

Watch: Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz and Alfred Maskeroni put together a video on the top five breakthrough creative ideas of the week, including a stunt from Fruit of the Loom that involved hiding stacks of cash for people to find around New York City.

Creativity pick of the day: Saudi Arabia just lifted its ban on women driving. It may not seem like there's an obvious comment for fast food companies to make on the topic, but Burger King Saudi Arabia found one. As Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz writes, it's "giving its signature burger free to any woman in the driver's seat who pulls up to its drive-thru windows. The burgers will come wrapped in special paper, renaming the sandwich 'WhoppHer.'" Check it out here.

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