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Legal Protection in the Age of Digital Ad Agencies

Many companies rely on the expertise of internet marketing agencies for ad development, placement and intellectual property right protection. But, as recent experience with Facebook and “tailored” content has illustrated, internet advertising can also present a Wild West for the digital frontier. Window and door companies using digital ad agencies must exercise caution.

Advertisements that collect personal information, whether by direct request or embedded “cookie” demands, can open the companies purchasing those advertisements to privacy claims. If and how a digital marketer protects its clients against that potential liability must be a key contractual point during the decision to purchase advertising services.

Consider too that there is a focus on greater transparency into who receives marketing materials and why. The internet presents an ability for marketers to preselect criteria about those seeing an ad; this potential has garnered a lot of recent attention regarding its selective use. Companies purchasing from digital advertisers should ensure that they know the criteria being used to direct their ads, and that such are appropriately directed toward neutral, market-based factors.

Digital advertising also presents a ripe opportunity for copycats, both intentionally or accidentally. To protect against legal claims for copyright infringement, any contract for marketing services should include protection against IP claims. Moreover, a good agreement also ensures that the rights in the advertising expressly rest with the purchasing company. Those that put in the effort and money required to assemble the digital work should put equal effort to protect the rights within that work.

Internet advertising may be a Wild West. But, as more companies begin to use the services of digital advertising agencies, paying attention to the terms and conditions underlying their purchases can pay dividends beyond the increase in referrals.


Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson is a member for The Gary Law Group, a Portland-based firm specializing in legal and risk issues facing manufacturers of glazing products. Write him at