As data is more powerful and valuable, online advertising industry is facing big challenges. It struggles between business goals and privacy concerns.
Balance may start with engaging people to take their responsibilities.
Online advertising expenditure is expected to exceed television ads expenditure worldwide this year, as it will account for more than $7 billion in Europe and for over $25 billion in the US. That being said, everyone knows that most of digital actors’ growth relies on ads solutions.
Why? Because their clients, which include brands, agencies, media buyers and publishers, are keen on using powerful ads solutions combined with sophisticated customer’s data. To what end? To target their campaigns better and to send tailor-made ads at the right time and on the most relevant device, in a competitive landscape that gives them no option other than going faster and being increasingly customer-focused.
Over the last fifteen or twenty years, internet users have been offered free services on the web that could immediately answer any kind of question, link them to anyone else on the planet, offer them free information and entertainment…and more broadly that could ease their everyday lives.
3.3 billion requests are made just on Google search every day. To maintain these services sustainable and free for all over the years, users of digital platforms and websites have had to give up a bit of themselves and to partially open the doors of their private lives.
What’s happening nowadays? data is getting more and more valuable, powerful both in terms of quantity and quality. So naturally users’ privacy has become a major concern, as people are facing the digital turmoil. That is understandable and legitimate. Consequently, trust between digital actors and customers is increasingly weakened.
Business growth and privacy concerns : a matter of trust ?
In today’s digital world, antagonisms between business growth and privacy concerns seem to make the balance difficult to reach. Most people think that losing their privacy is difficult to avoid when it comes to web platforms use, because their privacy is not strong enough compared to business goals. But first and foremost, isn’t the balance between stakeholders’ interests a matter of trust? Then how to support and reinforce that trust?
One approach could be to understand that matter of trust as a contract between three main stakeholders: digital actors, customers (who are users as well), and the state where these digital actors operate. In a contract relationship, each party needs to comply with both requirements and responsibilities.
First, the digital actors along with their clients must make sure that data is managed in the right context and for a specific use. Likewise, they are responsible for better informing users and reinforcing transparency on the use of their data through improved agreement processes for instance.
Second, the user has access to the confidentiality terms of websites and digital platforms and can be given the opportunity to control several privacy parameters, like on Gmail account. So, his responsibility here is also to be proactive towards information. More widely, users must keep in mind that the essence of the web is to be an open area that requires conscientiousness and responsibility towards information sharing.
Finally, any state can set up a specific legal framework in its country to protect users and customers depending on how far it wants to strengthen user’s privacy. By consequence privacy protection also depends on that legal framework, which differs from one country to another, as we all know.
Hopefully, once these requirements are met, all interests may co-exist if each stakeholder fully plays its role and all remain pro-active. And to play their role, they need a framework that strengthens confidence in each other. Then, sound foundations are settled and each stakeholder is encouraged to pursue its goal while taking care of others’ interests within a legally binding agreement.