Consumer Privacy Is Tech, Not Ad, Issue

Privacy is a tricky topic.  It’s sort of like Fight Club, with the first rule being “You do not talk about Fight Club.”  Privacy is a topic that most people don’t, can’t or won’t talk about — and I can’t blame them!

That being said, it is something we need to talk about as an industry.  

Many of you know the FCC recently rolled back its rules around ISPs gathering and utilizing data for advertising purposes.   This move, while praised by many people in the industry, is actually not ideal because it means privacy is now a state-driven issue. Which means there could be 50 different sets of rules rather than one.

What concerns me most is that the core of the media industry, the places where at least 80%-90% of ad dollars are spent, already over-index in favor of consumer privacy and are very aboveboard on what they are doing — but these state issues will be driven by fear of what the scary minority are doing with data.  That small portion of the industry is driving fear, uncertainty and doubt.



I’m a consumer first, and I agree that rules and regulation, whether federal or self-imposed, are necessary to drive a safe environment. I also understand that to access free content all over the Web, there needs to be advertising — because content is ad-supported.   I also realize this data is used to create a more personalized Web experience.

Ok, maybe consumers say they don’t like advertising or marketing, but in truth they have no problem with it.  It supports most of the media they engage with, events they attend and games they play.  It is everywhere.  

We are not going to solve this as an ad industry.  It needs to be solved from the perspective of the entire tech industry.

Companies like Google and Facebook need to work across the entire industry, bringing in Apple, Cisco, Tesla, Verizon, Samsung, Vizio, and any company that is creating technology that gathers data about consumers.  The entire Internet of Things along with autonomous vehicles and the connected home are all affected by privacy standards and they need to be addressed together.  

Consumers do and should have a right to their privacy and they should also understand there is a fair value, mutually beneficial exchange that comes from the use of their data.  If technology companies can come together and demonstrate a unified front that errs on the side of the consumer, then consumers will feel comfortable and we can move forward with the idea of creating great technology that fosters a more personalized environment.  

Consumers like it when the world is tailored to them. It started with the local butcher who knew you and what type of meat you usually ordered and what your family was up to.  It extends to the connected, personalized world of the cities where we live and the digital world we engage with.  Data is everywhere, and its use should be acceptable but fair, always taking into account the desires of the consumer.

Don’t you agree?

1 comment about "Consumer Privacy Is Tech, Not Ad, Issue".
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  1. Mario L Castellanos from New Ventures Technologies, May 3, 2017 at 5:32 p.m.

    Good commentary and like you, I'm a consumer first. But I'm also the CEO of a hybrid, data driven and 100% ad supported start-up TV Network. And we've developed our own technology to deliver non-invasive psychographic segmented and programmatic addressable TV ads. The advertisers get a captive audience and the viewer sees just the right amount of ads that specifically appeal to their lifestyle, activities and interests. Everybody wins.

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