METRIC MIKEY’S FTC FRIDAY

Yup. It is a new thing, what with the whirlwind of lawsuits, allegations and direction I started writing about last week based on recent (and some not so recent) FTC and other government activities. And 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 may be getting a little more difficult.

We may have thought we kicked these problems down the road – late 2023 with Chrome’s deprecation of the third party cookie. But the can may have just gotten kicked back at us, in 2022, with new potential legislature – both here in the US and in other countries, too.

Just going to point out 3 things today (who could take more than that on a Friday…especially after last Friday’s post).

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: Consumers Should Opt Out Of Ad Targeting To Avoid Social Scams. Again, not saying that is a bad idea. Just noting 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).

Thing three – Is using Google Analytics (at least in Austria) illegal? Just waiting for the other shoe(s) to drop in light of a recent Forbes article I wrote about last week.

Lots to think about in the world of privacy and regulation changing. And as I said last week, ‘I think the shit is really starting to get real!’

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