The rumored impending deluge of privacy investigations in the advertising industry may have already begun. Similar to Washington’s wholesale rout of Wall Street’s hedge funds in the early 2000s, the Federal Trade Commission is heading, it seems, towards a fine-toothed comb deconstruction of the advertising industry’s practices, starting with its most unmanageable beast, data.
- Third-party data collection, unless completely transparent to all sides, may be over. No brand will expose itself to such risk to get at a flow of anonymous data for a marketing strategy that may or may not work.
- Companies that supply strictly opt-in consumer data will rise rapidly. While the industry still struggles with the scope of self-regulation, the government, and a pack of hungry lawyers, are marching on. There isn’t a lot of time to debate the after-effects of an opt-out button if not posting one can land you with a lawsuit from a plaintiff named “precious” seeking to hawk her data on the open market.
- Companies that use applications of any kind will have to rewrite their privacy policies. The phrase “informing the consumer” has always been murky. Brands may end up tethered to an elaborate opt-out education program and a bunch of icons far more onerous than the “advertising options” icon proposed by the Digital Advertising Association.
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