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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - November 2019

Advertising in a non-personally targeted world

One of the very big topics of discussion right now is what impact all the new privacy laws like GDPR (Europe), ePrivacy (Europe), CCPA (California), and COPPA (US kids) are going to have on advertising ...and everyone is running around scared.

Each one of these laws make it a lot harder to do personally-targeted advertising. Each one of these puts a much bigger burden on the ones facilitating the data (the data controllers). But even more than that, each one of these laws is a reflection of consumer and public demands.

The public wants privacy laws. The public demands to be in control of their personal data. The public demands that they should be asked and, on a case-by-case basis, provide explicit and informed consent before any company can use their data. The public demands that companies should not be able to use the data for things that the public doesn't expect, but should instead be limited to only the things that are directly related to what people did. The public demands that, at any time, they can see what data each company has about them, and delete it if desired.

This is what the public wants!

And one of the things I keep telling publishers is that it doesn't matter what the regulations say, instead focus on your readers. Listen to what they demand of you.

This is similar to what we have seen in many other industries. For instance, if you visit a fashion company like H&M and you look at their menu items, you will see one that says "Sustainability". Here you can find sustainably produced clothes, read about how that is done, and what steps H&M will take to create a more sustainable future.

H&M is not doing this because the law is forcing them to. They are doing this because they are listening to their customers.

As publishers, you need to think about privacy the same way. Who cares what the regulations say? Obviously you need to comply with the law, but listen to your readers. This is why you need to take this seriously.

However, this is harder than it sounds.

Why we don't listen

The reason why most publishers don't do this is because of a general fear in the industry that, if you remove or limit personal tracking, then the ad rates will go down, advertisers will move to other channels, or some might not even advertise at all.

And this is not just a fear that exists in the media industry, it's the same fear we now hear from YouTube creators, after YouTube was forced to implement COPPA (which they should have done to begin with).

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What is Baekdal?

Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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