There's a cute cartoon that's been making the rounds in regulatory and consumer data rights circles lately. Unfortunately, I'd be violating licensing rights if I published it. You can link to it here, but let me describe it for you. It depicts a group of ad execs pitching solutions for cookie-less consumer targeting, including using "spyware," "facial recognition drones," "hijacking" consumer's device cameras, and installing RFID chip "implants." When one of the execs suggests simply respecting consumer privacy and scrapping "microtargeting" altogether, the moderator says, "Let's be realistic."
While the deprecation of consumer trackers -- including cookies and various device IDs -- impacts most digital media, mobile ad execs act like it's an existential threat, so I would also suggest to them: Be realistic. There are so many untapped ways to make advertising work better -- both more efficiently and effectively -- and also respect consumer privacy.
But it seems like the digital industrial complex is hooked on people's personal data in a way that's not just unhealthy for individuals, but society overall. The problem is that society has never been less unified -- about almost everything -- than it is now. So it shouldn't be surprising that there also are some big disconnects on how the digital ad industry should respond to measurement and privacy compliance, especially for mobile marketing.
And nothing underscores that better than new research released this week by AppsFlyer. The study, conducted with IDC, shows some marked differences among markets and cultures with Europeans, not surprisingly, being much more compliant, while Americans are, well, much more defiant.
"While the level of concern was high in all three countries," the report notes, referring to the U.S., U.K. and German ad execs that were surveyed, "the reasons behind the concern differed.
"In the United States, advertisers’ top concerns regarding possible consequences of alleged privacy violations were revenue loss, reputation loss with clients and the general public, hampered operations, and being fined (all coming in at 69% top 3 box answers). In the United Kingdom, reputation loss with investors, the general public, and clients was the major concern (71%, 70%, and 69%, respectively), followed by fear of fines (69%). In Germany, reputation loss with clients and investors were the top concerns (64% and 59%, respectively), followed by hampered operations at 56%."
The irony is that the study shows U.S. digital marketers actually have much more exposure than their European counterparts, especially in terms of economic liability. According to the companies interviewed by IDC, the average percentage of annual revenues for Americans being fined for non-compliance was 4.4%, about twice that of the Europeans.
That's quite a punchline.
I agree about the need to be realistic. Commercial broadcasters operated profitably for decades in the U.S. with no customer tracking at all, just a handful of third-party audience measurement companies (one of which posted the humble slogan on the back cover of its reports "Remember, ratings are only estimates"). Linear TV is not dead as long as buyers and sellers agree to trust the less-than-reliable system of tallying those who might still be in the room during the ads during breaks, not use the mute button, or not use their DVR.
Douglas, as you, no doubt, know, I have long been pointing out that national TV's "average commercial minute viewers" rating is a bogus "measurement". In fact, it's not even a measurement as viewing is assumed if the commercial is on the TV screen. But what you are really saying---or hinting at---is that nobody watches commercials. Yet TV advertisers have long been aware of this. Way back in the 1960s, day after commercial recall studies made it quite evident to CMOs and brand managers that many program viewers did not watch commercials. Typically, only 30-35% of them recalled seeing an average commercial---with prompts to aid their memories--- while about 65% of these folks---or 20-24% of the program audience could provide a worthwhile description of the message's sales pitch. This, of course, was the ovrall average---but the key point was that in all of the thousands of studies, there seemed to be a ceiling---you never got a recall score higher than 50-60%.
My point is simply this, today, we have "eye camera" studies that tell us that 40% of the "audience" at least notes the average commercial---visually----that is the eyes are on the screen for at least two seconds when it appears. Moreover, the average commercial noter keeps his/her eyes on the screen for about half of the commercial's content. So, yes, now---as before--- there's a fairly large amount of commercial avoidance---or lack of attention---but if an advertiser gets, say, 20% of a show's audience to watch most or all of the brand's message each time it appears, over the course of weeks and months, with many exposures in various show contexts and dayparts, there will be a cummulative message registration effect---and a large part of the ad schedule's reach will have gotten the message. That's why so many branding advertisers continue to use "linear TV".