Private Eyes

There’s a battle brewing at the intersection of digital advertising and privacy. Why now and what lessons does all of this hold for marketing leaders? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • This past week, Google doubled down on their anti-behavioral targeting stance with this announcement: “Once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.”
  • The cries of alarm were immediate. Digiday called it a “drastic shift” and Ad Age proclaimed that it will “upend the industry“.
  • And some adtech companies also took a serious beating in the markets.
  • This latest development is part of an ongoing series of shifts being driven by pressure from regulators, negative public opinion and—most notably—a handful of tech giants jockeying for dominance.
  • In addition to Google’s anti-cookie decisions, this clash of the titans has also featured full page newspaper ads from Facebook and plenty of shade-throwing from Apple.
  • There’s self-interest on all sides here, of course. But the weight of public opinion clearly rests with the pro-privacy team. In their announcement, Google cited this study from 2019. Its conclusions are clear—most people are fed up with all of the tracking.
  • Personalized ads have always forced marketers to walk the line between effective and annoying. Things are coming to a head now because we’ve drifted too far into annoying-town.
  • Also, growing associations between behavioural targeting and hate speech, misinformation and societal decline haven’t helped much.
  • Many leading brands have been steering away from targeted digital for the last few years.
  • Most recently AirBNB announced a permanent shift in focus from performance marketing to brand building.
  • As far as we’re concerned, all of this is great news for customers. And for marketers who are in it for the long haul. This quote from Hubspot’s Kat Warboys sums it up well.
Issue #113
Mar 7, 2021

Further Reading