Just been reading the FTC complaint against… well, against everyone I know, it seems: the exchanges, the DSPs, the data targeters, the ad agencies, the analytics companies, the whole quantitative marketing shebang. It was pretty straightforward, quoting everyone’s marketing material, making the industry seem much, much larger than it actually is*.
Ed Zimmerman has a much better response than I could write, so I’m not going to critique the thing, but one paragraph really jumps out at me.
The value of user data harnessed by these platforms and services is generating higher returns for marketers. Publishers, ad agencies, and marketers are all trying to capitalize on the data of each consumer–thereby causing that consumer a financial loss. None of the so-called consumer benefits of real-time targeting–the “faster loading times” for an ad and whether they provide a “better user experience make up for this financial loss. The availability of so-called free content is an insufficient return to a consumer for their loss of privacy, including their autonomy.
The first sentence is interesting because I doubt it is, in general, true, or will ever be. If RTB and its ilk make the whole system more efficient, it is not the marketer that will garner the efficiency. Economics tell us that the main beneficiary will ultimately be the consumer.
The rest of the paragraph is a bit murky and illogical until the last sentence: targeting is corrosive of privacy and autonomy. Long-time readers will know that I don’t disagree with this sentiment.
But I’ve become a bit cynical about consumer privacy. Having been involved in a failed bid to create a product that would safeguard consumer data while allowing marketers to compensate the consumer to use the data, I don’t believe that consumers really care enough about their privacy to actually do anything about it. Even the most ardent complainers about the intrusiveness of advertising won’t spend more than a few minutes of their time protecting their privacy. This says to me that their privacy is worth nothing to them (but complaining about it is worth something, I think.)
If you really care enough to spend a few minutes, you can do something about it:
- Opt-out of behavioral targeting (NAI)
- Opt-out of telemarketing (Do not call)
- Opt-out of direct mail and other direct marketing (DMA)
- Opt out of the credit bureaus mailings (Experian, Equifax, Innovis, Transunion)
- Opt out at the big data collectors (Axciom, Intelius and Choicepoint)
This will protect your privacy from pretty much everyone except your government. If you want your department of motor vehicles to stop selling your information (yes, they do) you’ll have to write them a letter and put it in the mail.
* It also highlighted the importance of AdExchanger.com, who was cited as a source of industry info in at least half the footnotes.