Apple’s privacy-first policies should prove beneficial for the company and for the hundreds of millions of people who use its products. Still, the iPhone maker’s ad, light in tone as its soundtrack may be, strikes a decisively dark note representative of broader national anxiety about Silicon Valley and the danger of its increasingly unavoidable products. Beneath the ad’s veneer of levity, thinly constructed in the form of a small guard dog and man wary of using a urinal too close to his neighbor, the video sends a clear warning to smartphone users entrusting their private information to rival phone makers: The intimate details of your lives may already be compromised. Lean into your worries about your data’s theft and monetization, and fork over 10 Benjamins at the nearest Apple store for the sake of your own security.
New research indicates that consumers are actually more aware of how their personal information is being used today than they were last year, with those ages 55 and above showing the greatest level of awareness. These consumers are increasingly willing to share their personally identifiable information with brand marketers—with one caveat. They want a reward for doing it.
Not only did Facebook’s “Research” app, which paid 13- to 35-year-old users $20/month to access their search history, emails, and private messages, set off every imaginable alarm on the this-will-look-bad-when-the-exposé-comes-out PR radar (one of the world’s most powerful corporations must be lacking one of those), but the app also blatantly violated the terms of Apple’s Enterprise Developer Program, which proscribes distributing apps to consumers. It probably didn’t help that Facebook was searching tweens’ data for dirt on its competitors.
It will likely take a significant downturn in spending or overall economic well-being for Big Tech to feel some major financial pain. And while great for Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, that’s got to be concerning for industry watchdogs wondering whether these businesses are too entrenched in digital search, advertising, and commerce to be challenged—because the past year was not hot for Silicon Valley, and yet the presses keep printing dollars.
Making a big splash in privacy, the ongoing story that has dominated location data-based marketing buzz in 2019, DuckDuckGo, the search engine that does not store user data in order to sell pricey ads, announced that it is using Apple’s MapKit JS to power searches. While the search engine’s results are sought out by far fewer users than search industry leader Google’s, the growth DuckDuckGo is experiencing further validates the impression the tech media has practically been screaming about this year: The winds on privacy are definitively changing, and data-driven companies that fail to heed those changes are in for quite a storm.
AT&T announced late last week that it will stop selling location data, following an investigation from multimedia publication Motherboard indicating that a bounty hunter (yes, bounty hunter) equipped with a few hundred bucks and a phone number can track down the phone’s owner within a couple blocks’ radius. Verizon and T-Mobile joined AT&T in saying they would soon wind down any remaining location-data sharing deals.
SPONSORED, by Neil Sweeney, CEO of Freckle IoT / Killi: The takeaway for 2019 will be consent management. Why is this going to be the trend? Two reasons — the first is because consent management is nonexistent in today’s technology stacks (and, no, the catch-all ‘do you accept’ button will not be sufficient moving forward for consent management). And, second: a compliance/privacy tsunami will bear down on the entire world (not just advertising) in 2019. Every trend in 2019 will tie back to a company’s ability, or inability, to check the box on consent management.
The move is representative of changing winds on attitudes toward privacy in the location data ecosystem. Following a series of New York Times Facebook and location data exposés and explainers, and with America’s own GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, slated to go into effect on January 1, 2019, companies are waking up to a new reality in which selling and sharing user data to the tune of billions of dollars in revenue with little oversight is over.
Greg Isbister: The next year will see a marked shift for location data. As consumers and businesses alike see more value and additional uses for this data, industry growth will continue to increase exponentially. Until regulations are put in place to increase security and transparency, it will be up to businesses to institute their own best practices, getting ahead of legislation to come.
What exactly did Facebook do wrong, and what do its supposed wrongs portend for the future of data-driven, and especially location data-driven, marketing? Here are some major takeaways pertaining to future legislation, likely consumer reactions, and the distinction between data selling and sharing.
Though their terms are not identical, in essence both GDPR and CCPA are designed to give consumers the power to stop companies from collecting personal data, to review all personal data a company may have collected, and to request deletion of any stored data. Both regulations strike a major blow in favor of the concept that ownership of personal data ultimately resides with the individual and not with companies who may profit from it.
Platforms, brands, and vendors benefiting from the reams of location data used to hit consumers with highly targeted ads should be paying attention to a change suggested by Google and Facebook’s appearances before government authorities, a New York Times exposé out Monday, and most importantly the impending arrival of GDPR-like legislation in the United States: 2019 will be the year privacy actually matters, posing a potentially devastating threat to the status quo of the location-based data and marketing industries.
The U.S. recently joined countries taking action on data privacy with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on June 28, 2018. The CCPA will protect the rights of California consumers and encourage stronger privacy online and greater transparency overall.
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In its Q2 earnings report, the social giant reported that growth has stalled in the United States and Canada, its most valuable markets. And its overall user growth for the quarter of just 22 million users is the smallest jump since 2011, indicating that a slowdown in revenue growth will likely prove a long-term challenge in the years ahead.
With its new study, the Personalization Pulse Check, Accenture aims to help brands understand the border between cool and creepy advertising, providing insights into what the customer thinks of personalization tactics in marketing campaigns.