Marketing company Zeta Global hires Ben Hayes as its first chief privacy officer

Zeta Global, the well-funded marketing technology company founded by CEO David A. Steinberg and former Apple CEO John Sculley, has hired its first chief privacy officer — Ben Hayes, who was previously chief privacy officer at Nielsen.

Steinberg said the company already has a “global privacy team” and has been taking the issue “very seriously.” However, he said that by hiring Hayes, he’s hoping to make Zeta a “global thought leader.”

“We want to send a message to the world that the end users that hit our platform are important to us, your privacy is important to us,” he said. And he noted, “When we sit down with our customers — and these are very, very large customers — the first two things they always want to talk about are data security and data privacy.”

For his part, Hayes said Zeta is “poised to deliver a unique value to the marketplace and, in my estimation, disrupt multiple industries in so doing.” He also said he was impressed by Zeta’s approach to protecting user data, specifically the fact that “it’s not a data broker.” In other words, even though it helps marketers target customers based on user data, it’s not selling that data to others.

I wondered whether that distinction might get lost in the broader backlash against the way online companies vacuum up personal data, but Hayes said, “I believe that paranoia grows in the shadows and the privacy backlash is largely about people feeling a loss of control over their data.”

“Explaining the value proposition to users is crucially important,” he added. “People are rational. If they understand it to be a net benefit to themselves they will like that thing.”