Advertising is Already Changing

This is the big week when GDPR finally rolls out. No longer can marketers in the EU use data to which users haven’t consented. However, we don’t think this change in how we use data will be confined to the EU. Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, has already told CBS News that he thinks the US needs the same kind of national data privacy law as GDPR. We’d be surprised if Congress didn’t begin to consider something, or at least start summoning relevant parties beyond Facebook for hearings. Benioff is one of those Silicon Valley CEOs who is often on the cutting edge, but he’s most often known for taking stronger ethical positions than many of his colleagues.

Respect for data privacy is not even a new position for Benioff, who as far back as 2014 told a reporter for Diginomica

I’m all in favor of consumers having more power and more control over their data. As a consumer, you should have all of the rights. It’s like a cloud Bill of Rights. As a consumer or as an enterprise, you should have the right to be forgotten or to add or take away your data.

Sugar CRM CEO Larry Augustin has the same opinion:

Although GDPR may be the headline right now, there’e been enough public visibility of the issues, and there’s enough public interest, that it would not surprise me to see the US now go down the path of some kind of legislation related to data privacy for consumers.

Data privacy issues are not going to go away. People are thinking a lot here now about GDPR, because Facebook, Twitter, and all of these issues keep coming. And Experian in the US, about managing personal information related to credit card data… there’s just a constant barrage of issues around data privacy and personal information.

Everyone has to address it, whether it’s in the context of GDPR or the next thing that’s going to come along. There is definitely a heightened awareness and interest.

The truth is that advertisers will probably not be able to get consent from consumers, and this will produce fundamental changes in advertising that we’ve been predicting for a long time. We think that both content marketing and influence marketing will grow more important, and that display and video ads will focus on developing the brand rather than trolling for sales.

This is a good thing! Not only will consumers like it better, but ads that seek to brand can run better creative, be more memorable, and YES, actually work better. Our old friend Doc Searls draws a distinction between advertising and ad tech: it’s not advertising that consumers hate, it’s ad tech. Ad tech is the industry that tracks them and obtains their data and steals their privacy.  Fortunately or unfortunately, Facebook ruined it for all of us in the industry once and for all, by showing how data privacy can not only be abused, but actually weaponized.