Digital advertising has taken over the advertising world. What was once simple newspaper ads, and billboards has now turned in to tracking our personal data for tailored digital ads. Apple and Google has reinvented ways to keep users privacy protected while still allowing ads.
“It kind of feels like you’re being tracked, and that’s because you are,” -Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software engineering “No longer.”New York Times
What is Data Privacy?
Data privacy, similar to data protection, is the act of keeping users important data safe and private. Some may wonder why apps and advertisers want access to our data. When advertisers have access to personal data they are able to tailor their ads to people with those interests. For example, if you are interested in working out then you probably come across ads for work out apparel, equipment, etc. Although this may be helpful we really don’t know how much data these companies have access to about each individual. After Apple and Google came out with their app stores this allowed advertisers to gain access to what users do in apps with out making consent to data collection very transparent. Apps that rely on this tracking are TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, etc. This started to become unethical.
Facebook Cambridge Analytica Scandal
Facebook got hit hard in 2019 when the company was fined by the Federal Trade Commission due to breaking privacy violations. In 2010, millions of users’ personal data was collected with out their consent in an app called “This is Your Digital Life” produced by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, which used the data collected to target political ads by the Trump campaign in the 2016 US Presidential election. The app asked users a series of questions which allowed them to collect personal information as well as their friends’ information. Not only did Facebook and Cambridge Analytica face a huge financial loss, but Facebook also lost users’ trust and in response are working to make changes. “Protecting people’s information and privacy is a top priority for Facebook, and we are continuing to build new controls to help people protect and manage their information,” said Facebook Associate General Counsel Harry Kinmonth. This scandal made the public more aware of the data companies have access to and this lead to change.
Apple’s Data Privacy Changes
Apple created new privacy protections to remain ethical and keep customers’ trust. Apple’s new update now requires applications to ask if the user wants to allow the app “to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites.” This allows users to have their own choice if they feel comfortable sharing information. These protections will only work, however, if the users understand what they mean. Although this new feature is helpful for users’ privacy it is the opposite for advertisers. These protections make it harder for advertisers to access users data and target ads to their interests which is greatly affecting companies sales. Meta has already said Apple’s privacy changes resulted in a $10 billion ad sales decline. However, there is some controversy. Apple wants their customers to have the right to privacy because they are paying for these products, but the issue is more nuanced: are only people who can afford Apple products the ones with the right to privacy?
Google’s Data Privacy Changes
Following in the foot steps of Apple, Google is also making changes for user privacy. Their approach is to ditch cross-site “cookie” tracking by 2023 and also work on new options to replace their Google Play Store advertising ID. Before these features arrive, users also have the choice to go “incognito” which stops data collection while using Googles mobile apps. Google also has auto delete options which means users activity data will be automatically deleted after 18 months. This will ensure your data isn’t being harvested by any third tracking parties. This again will affect many companies who rely on user data for advertising. However, Google will still allow digital advertising based on data users are willing to share. Businesses will need to develop new ways to reach their audience to continue sales.
Effects on Social Media Advertising
Take a second and scroll through your daily social media apps. How many ads do you feel are targeted towards you? This is because most social media platforms rely on data tracking for targeted ads. They collect data based off what you have searched, liked, commented, and engage on. This helps advertisers target users who share the same interest as their product or company. However, it is scary how accurate the ads are and many users do not feel comfortable with that.
With these new privacy protection changes it makes it very hard for advertisers to reach their target market and make sales. So what are they doing in response? Like I mentioned, more and more websites are including pop ups asking for access to data for better user experience and for those who accept they base their ads on their interests. They also make it clear what data they are accessing making sure to gain users trust so more people accept the policy. Facebook and Instagram now require businesses to accept terms before running their ads on the application and Twitter now has a third party businesses keeping users data safe. As you can see advertisers have had to find new ways to create targeted ads with out harvesting users private data.
Pros and Cons of Data Tracking
- Managing online life easier by keeping track of all login information.
- Filters through products you are interested in
- Access to better deals on things you may like
- Increase personalization based on search engines
- Often location is tracked
- Data may be stored
- Deals advertised may not be relevant
- Identity theft
- Loss of privacy