Believe the Hype: The Pragmatic Value of Location-Based Analytics, Audiences, and Attribution

After 25 years of framing technologies by level of maturity and adoption, the Gartner Hype Cycle has finally placed location intelligence for marketing where it belongs — in the trough of disillusionment. Sounds like a lousy place to be, but it’s actually the opposite. Why? The trough of disillusionment is the stage right before the slope of enlightenment. Let me back up and explain.

The Trust Crash: How Our Platforms Are Failing Us At Every Level and What We Can Do About It

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are the seeds of a new generation of open platforms and technologies aimed at evolving the platform paradigm to one of transparency, value share, and universal governance representation. Sharing value with users via data revenue share; allowing users access to insights generated about them and their peers and help to understand who is trying to engage with them and why; rev share and benefits for service providers; collaborative governance; and abolition of unilateral platform expulsion or rule changes are just several of the major changes on the table. A whole host of new open platform operating protocols is emerging.

Get Ready for America’s GDPR: CCPA

With regulation comes the emergence of new opportunities. The same logic that brought on GDPR will be stateside on January 1, 2020, when the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is put into effect. This legislation will allow California residents more control over their personal data. The objective is simple: provide better consumer protections and enhance the respect of privacy by improving transparency regarding the way companies are using their users’ data.

Jean-Noël Barneron of Herow provides one of the clearest breakdowns of CCPA, going into effect Jan 1, you’ll read.

Employees Are Connecting On Facebook: Here’s Why They Shouldn’t

When they aren’t connecting in the office, 87% of employees are connecting on Facebook. With more than 1.5 billion daily active users, it’s no surprise that employees flock to the platform to connect with colleagues. Facebook is easy and familiar, and many employees have used it for years. When employees want to connect personally with someone they know professionally, Facebook is the natural first step. 

But Facebook isn’t the best place for making personal connections with coworkers, mainly because of the amount of personal content employees post. They express their political opinions and might post jokes and language that could easily offend in a professional setting. When you introduce professional contacts to a personal platform, the lines of what’s appropriate are blurred. People might begin to censor themselves, which isn’t always healthy. Or employees might feel uncomfortable with a coworker based on something they’ve seen online.

The Privacy Movement Is Not (Just) About Privacy

Privacy has been slipping away from us since before then-CEO of Sun Microsystems Scott McNealy said we had none of it in January 1999. Americans still do not understand how companies use their data. While that is a transparency issue incumbent upon businesses to fix — and legislation will to some degree remedy it — I think it more likely than not that Americans will continue to hand over their data to Amazon for two-day delivery and Google for the sleekness of search. What we typically conceive of as privacy itself — concern about how much of our information companies possess — is not the factor that will turn the tides on company practices and legal standards. 

Google Revises Policy Asking Users for Permission to Listen to Their Assistant Recordings

The fact that this was an open practice that at least some consumers simply did not understand they were either opting into or automatically participating in points to calls for greater transparency and regulation. Google says it “fell short” of its “high standards” on the issue, but legislation like Europe’s GDPR, CCPA, and legislation in some 10 other US states indicates those standards may be imposed on tech companies by government agencies going forward.

What Facebook’s Second Wave of Data Privacy Tools Means for Advertisers

Facebook finally rolled out the ‘Clear History’ feature, now known as the ‘Off-Facebook Activity Tool.’ This tool will show users a summary of the apps and websites that have shared their user data with Facebook and gives users the opportunity to control what information, if any, is shared with these websites. According to Facebook, the company “won’t know which websites you visited or what you did there, and won’t use any of the data you disconnect to target ads to you on Facebook, Instagram, or Messenger.”

As advertisers, it’s important for us to understand how to prepare for the impact and to keep these updates top of mind as we move further into the second half of the year. 

online privacy

Is Consent Enough to Make Audio Recordings Safe for Human Processing?

Recently, a number of high-profile tech firms have been uncovered permitting human employees to access private conversations consumers believed were only processed by AI.

Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa have all been placed in the limelight, and now Facebook has also come under fire for letting human employees access sensitive personal conversations for transcription purposes.

In the case of AI assistants, private conversations are primarily harvested from consumers who own and use their devices directly. However, there is an emerging body of evidence that these technologies are also harvesting secondary persons’ conversations — completely unknown to those individuals.

A Return to Contextual Advertising?

Digital advertising and marketing have long been positioned as “the future” of advertising. But with the rapid changes in media and information technology of the past two decades, the future has arrived. Google recently promoted the idea that “we’re now in an era where digital marketing is just marketing.” But as the industry advances and as new protective regulations around personal data privacy are introduced, it’s also possible that some of the change could involve relying more on previously established methods. Specifically, it is possible that we are on the verge of a return to contextual advertising as the dominant form of online ads.

4 Major Takeaways About Consumer Privacy Concerns

Location data firm Factual commissioned a study conducted by the University of Southern California applied psychology master’s program to take the pulse of consumers on data privacy. Unsurprisingly, not all consumers demographic groups share the same levels and types of concern. Here are four major takeaways from the survey of 1,002 smartphone users aged 18 to 65.

How Technology Companies Can Establish and Benefit from a User-First Culture

As more and more states pass separate privacy regulations into law, we will likely see an increase of noncompliance and fines across the board. Subsequently, we might see more companies begin advocating for the US to develop its own version of GDPR at the federal level in an effort to simplify compliance for companies nationwide.

To stay ahead of the imminent data privacy regulations, companies need to establish a culture of transparency and compliance. Consumers will be more confident in businesses that offer a clear value exchange when asked to share their data, and marketers and publishers will build stronger relationships with users. 

Alexa, Draw a Line Between Convenience and Control

It’s that factor, consumer data and Amazon’s vast store of it, that stands out most in Jason Del Rey’s reporting on Recode’s new podcast series, Land of the Giants. Specifically striking is the episode on Alexa, in which Amazon employees openly speculate about a future in which smart microwaves will hook up with Amazon’s growing healthcare ambitions to tell you when it’s time to stop making popcorn and smart countertops will join the intelligent kitchen conversation. As Del Rey notes, Amazon execs talk about this future openly, dropping tidbits about customer obsession along the way and appearing truly unperturbed by the thought that such interventions into our domestic lives may go too far or generate unintended consequences. Optimism for the quality of Amazon products and a fervent belief in the company’s benefit to consumers—without due consideration for products’ risk and would-be limits—seem to pervade the corporate culture.

First-Party Versus Third-Party Data: What You Should Know

Using first-party data is a win-win. As marketers, you are fostering an ongoing relationship with your customers and prospects by better communicating and serving them. But there needs to be a strategy and long-term commitment. In a survey of US digital marketers by Advertiser Perceptions and programmatic agency MightyHive, respondents said they were, on average, tapping into just 47% of their company’s first-party data potential. It takes the right strategy and technological infrastructure in place to activate first-party data at scale.

Third-Party Data and Third-Party Cookies Are Not the Same

Google’s recent announcement that it will change how its Chrome browser handles cookies has created some confusion about the impact on advertisers and ad tech platforms, particularly around the creation, selling, and buying of third-party data. Unfortunately, much of the confusion stems from a lack of clarity on the key terms. 

Although third-party data and third-party cookies sound similar, they are very different things. I often find that marketers and media confuse the two.

This Company is Forging a New Path for Digital Advertising with a Focus on Consumer Consent

Brave is an example of how privacy-forward digital advertising business models that foreground consumer content can work for all parties. Users are not tracked all over the Web and choose how many ads they would like to see; they will also soon get rewards. In return, advertisers can be sure that the people seeing their advertisements are actually interested in looking at ads, and they can also boost loyalty or reach new customers by offering rewards for ad viewing.

Perhaps most importantly, with GDPR in place for more than a year and CCPA and other state privacy laws in the works, advertisers and platforms are less likely to get sued.

12 Years After the iPhone, Marketers Need to Lean Into Digital Wellness

Once upon a time, “getting a Starbucks coupon as you walk by a Starbucks” was the Holy Grail example of the potential power of mobile marketing. With the iPhone turning 12 years old this week, it’s a great time to observe how drastically more sophisticated digital relationships between consumers and brands have gotten thanks to the supercomputers in our pockets.

Mobile is now about building a customer journey and taking patrons to the next level rather than a single, location-based transaction. You hear it a lot: the customer journey reigns supreme, but there’s a good reason for “customer journey” becoming like the Greek chorus in marketing. Consumers are inundated with messages from brands, so marketers need to be judicious about how, when, where, and why they reach out to customers.

How Targeting Fuels Audience Activation and Satisfaction

Consumers benefit from targeting. When there are clear rules and guardrails in place for tracking and targeting, shoppers enjoy a more relevant online experience and a panoply of ad-funded digital services.

Traditional ads still have a place in the marketing mix, of course. But the future of marketing is digital. Online ad spend is expected to surpass traditional ad spend (likely for good) this year. How is it that targeting, while respecting privacy, makes the consumer internet better?

Startups Adapt to Shifting Privacy Standards

Two steps forward, one step back. That’s what it can feel like to be a technology provider in the location marketing space right now, struggling to strike a balance between the demands of brand marketers and growing concerns over consumer privacy and data regulation.

That push and pull is challenging vendors in the location marketing space. At the same time their firms should be seeing exponential growth, data regulations—including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s forthcoming Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)—are establishing new rules for innovation.

But some companies are embracing the regulation as a challenge to innovate in its own right.

Vendors Rush to Bring Privacy Verification Solutions to Market

The demand for data privacy is at an all-time high, just as consumer trust in the technology space is at an all-time low. Advertisers are grappling with wasted ad spend and uncertainty over ad verification. The market is in disarray, and technology vendors are hoping they have a solution to the problem.

Just this month, the offline consumer intelligence and measurement company Cuebiq launched a new verification solution for third-party data. The solution gives advertisers verifiable proof of compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

5 Consent Management Platforms for Brands and Publishers

For brands and publishers that work with multiple ad tech partners, the process of obtaining user consent for data processing is overwhelming. To simplify the workflow, publishers have started using consent management platforms (CMPs). Not only have CMPs been designed to help brands and publishers obtain and manage user consent, but they also help with monetizing users, even when users haven’t opted-in to sharing data.

CMPs were largely developed in response to the GDPR — most are built on the IAB’s transparency and consent framework — which means the systems themselves are still relatively young. Nonetheless, the popularity of this type of platform has led to a spring of new players entering the space. Here are five examples of CMPs on the market right now.