Current State: Privacy and Changing Regulations

by Joy Brazelle

With the whirlwind of lawsuits and allegations based on recent (and not so recent events), FTC and other government activities, things are getting real. But, I am not pointing these things out as a criticism. I am certain everyone is all for people’s privacy. But certain types of advertising, targeting, and measurement might become a little more difficult.

We may have thought we kicked these problems down the road – for example Chrome’s deprecation of the third party cookie being moved to late 2023 –  But the can may have just gotten kicked back at us, with new potential legislation – not just in the US but in other countries, too.

I just want to point out a couple of things:

Thing one – the great ‘Surveillance Advertising’ debate continues to escalate. It seems to have evolved (devolved) into some facts, some ‘facts’ and some more posturing. The two most worrisome takeaways for me (other than the misunderstanding of how behavioral advertising generally works) are:

1 – Bigger, more well known companies are getting involved in the argument against (and not always 100% factually correct in their thinking of how legitimate behavioral targeting works) the way things work today. This is worrisome because we have seen that it is not uncommon for droves of folks to get behind misinformation (or even call it nuanced information).

2 – Of the companies and agencies who do understand all of the technical details of what is really happening and being asked to be changed, this has implications not just on third party data (data captured from the browser in cookies). But If you read the way some of the statements are phrased about personal data a company collects, it seems to be talking about first party data – data a person voluntarily provides to a company (e.g. signing up for a loyalty program in exchange for a discount or points). And exactly the data that marketers are hanging their hat on using once third party data goes away.

Thing two – Some direction to consumers from the FTC: FTC Calls Out Targeted Ads for Social Media Scams. Again, not saying that is a bad idea, but I want to share my two worrisome takeaways:

1 – Blanket statements like this are bad. Yes there are scammers. But yes there are many, many legitimate businesses, ‘mom and pop’ shops just trying to get by using social media to advertise.

2 – “FTC Chair Lina Khan, who has previously voiced concerns about “commercial surveillance,” also appeared to link online targeting to fraudsters.” Just a little worried that the concept of the word ‘surveillance’ being associated with commercial or advertising is, again, generally misleading and maligning the good companies that do not exploit information (the vast majority of companies).

Lots to think about in the world of privacy and changing regulation,  And as I said at the beginning of this post, “things are really starting to get real!’

That said, after writing this post a while back another state just passed legislation blocking ad targeting -”Indiana Senate Passes Bill Giving Consumers Right To Reject Ad Targeting.”  Although the bill is a little ‘looser’ than most would like, the fact that it actually passed and is (somewhat, we’ll see) enforceable, is another big step forward (for privacy).  And perhaps backwards for advertising….

“One specific provision would give people the right to opt out of targeted advertising — meaning ads based on inferences about people gleaned from their activities over time across nonaffiliated websites or applications.

That opt-out right would not extend to ads based on first-party data, or to contextual ads based on people’s current searches, website visits or app use.”

As I (or was it Prince) have said over and over when it comes to the future of marketing and advertising…”Market like it is 1999’

Joy Brazelle

Solutions Lead

I’ve spent over 18 years helping clients use analytics to improve the performance of their websites , SEO, paid search and other marketing programs, with a brief detour to the FinTech worlds to see how alternative payment options impact the very, very bottom of the funnel.

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