Death to adtech?
An interesting piece by Doc Searls
over the weekend predicts that the introduction for GDPR could kill a vast number of adtech companies – businesses built on tracking and identifying people without permission.
Searls is optimistic about this, and believes it will lead to systems that let businesses understand their customers better than current systems.
I think most people can agree that the world will be a better place if products that track us without our permission, in ways we don’t understand, and storing the data who-knows-where, go away. But in the near term, GDPR is more likely to lead to a combination of adtech firms pulling out of the EU or adding ‘consent walls’ that let you opt into tracking if you choose.
Where will that lead us? Other parts of the world will likely continue as normal, while ad revenues in Europe fall and website operators there know less about their visitors.
Some will see this as a sign of Europe putting its head in the sand about the way the modern internet works. Tracking is just the way free internet services are paid for, they’ll say. But I see it as Europe leading where others will eventually follow.
If European tech companies are driven to create new business models that are both sustainable and ethical, and their popularity spreads worldwide, lawmakers elsewhere may not need to introduce GDPR-style laws to see permission-free tracking gradually die off.
The EU’s approach will have won by default, and the adtech dragon slain.