With the biggest Silicon Valley companies working so hard on more privacy, you would think it should be a major topic at this year’s Online Marketing Rockstar festival, right? Well, it wasn’t.
Only the talk by Philipp Justus, Vice President Central Europe at Google, mentioned privacy in its keynote title and only a few speakers addressed it during their talks. Instead, you could listen to blatant sales pitches from WeChat and other Chinese platforms, a country where privacy is not even an afterthought but ignored on purpose.
It’s striking to me, because one year after the GDPR has been put into effect with much turmoil, it would have been the chance for companies in the Ad tech industry to position themselves as an industry leader when it comes to privacy and data protection.
The GDPR set not only a new European but a global standard for data security and privacy and since it was passed, at least ten other countries including Argentina, Australia and Brazil have moved to implement similar rules
. With the California Consumer Privacy Act
becoming effective in 2020, it’s clear that the move towards more online privacy has just begun and is here to stay.
Therefore, it’s not only a missed opportunity but more importantly, it’s naive.
Change is coming
For many years the online marketing industry could harvest and sell user data by using cookies and fingerprinting methods, display annoying banner ads that forced users to click them with Evil UX, and making the web an overall bad experience.
Now, they need to re-think their business model and probably change it sooner than they had anticipated. Being first to do so might not only be good for marketing reasons, but necessary for survival.
“Ads kept the internet free for so long but with invasive ad-tracking at its peak and concerns about online privacy — or lack of — privacy is finally getting its day in the sun.”
I was really surprised by the lack of privacy-related talks at OMR. After all, Germany is known for its sensitivity in regards to personal data (remember the movement against Google for showing private houses in Google StreetView?).
Still, the discussion just has begun and the approaches by Google & Co should not be considered perfect. There is still much room to improve.
And who knows, maybe next year’s OMR will finally catch up to the big players.