Chaos invites innovation

Posted by Christopher Farm on June 25, 2022 · 3 mins read

Shifts in technology go through chaos before harmony. The word “Privacy”, at least in adtech circles, is the new breeding ground for chaos - government, corporations, developers, and users all have stakes in its ambiguous definition, and “privacy” is the new battlefield for different factions to compete for harmony.

Not only are platforms building frameworks to protect “privacy” (Apple’s ATT and Google’s Privacy Sandbox), governments are opining on these changes while simultaneously evaluating if each of the platform’s frameworks are anti-competitive. A letter to the FTC chair was recently released stating that Apple and Google need to shut down advertising IDs quickly in order to maintain anonymity for users and data brokers. At the same time, across the Atlantic, UK reports by the CMA and the DMA pointed out that the current solutions that allow users to opt out of data collection on Apple and Google OSes unfairly drive ad marketshare for each parent company. The takeaway? We know that governments don’t want to use advertising IDs for tracking, but don’t like that the proposed production ready solutions are anti-competitive. The short answer is no one agrees on anything yet.

While the government and platforms fight for what “privacy” technology looks like, marketers are caught in the crossfire, often spending less where things are less measurable. At the moment, data is completely fragmented for marketers and unless there are ways to ingest and build things themselves, there really isn’t a defacto standard on how to spend budgets efficiently. You can talk to 10 different developers on how they run marketing campaigns and get 10 different answers (albeit all very nuanced in difference).

A dark horse in the race is W3 – IMO it’s a hammer looking for a nail, but if you squint, it’s possible there could be something useful created if ad networks agree to participate in the chain itself. Imagine all ad networks deciding to hash on every attribution and the chain logs the searchable truth…or something like that. It seems crazy on the surface, but amongst the chaos all ideas are created equal.

The concurrency of multiple macro events will lead entrepreneurs to attempt various ideas to standardize and bring harmony. My bias right now is in providing as much data transparency available to the developer by as many sources as possible, then generating the unique solutions that work for them. However, given that “Privacy” is meaningless to each of the multiple parties mentioned above, 2022-23 is the perfect storm for every technologist and entrepreneur to take a close look at how all sides of the debate could be united through some tech standard that combines processes that developers and users are comfortable with.