What Scares Corporate Marketers

eyeball “It’s pretty scary,” Scott Hagedorn tells Advertising Age.

Who is Hagedorn, and of what is he afraid?

“We are not reaching young audiences effectively,” says this CEO of Hearts & Science, the marketing agency that describes its work for “the world’s biggest brands” thus:

Our clients shift from brands that push content out to brands that pull people in. We’re creating new relationships between brands and people like never before.

The crisis to which Hagedorn refers is the fact that:

a growing audience of people who aren’t tracked — and therefore can’t be targeted or measured — with traditional tools and platforms. They consume media on mobile devices and OTT. They’re “cord cutters” and “cord nevers.” And they represent tremendous buying power for brands. The stakes are high—47% of Millennials and Gen X appear “unreachable” within standard planning tools, and 66% of their media consumption isn’t tracked, either.

Hagedorn clarifies in today’s Wall Street Journal:

And if it can’t be measured, it can’t be properly targeted or planned against as part of a cohesive, cross-platform campaign.

“Planned against.” Write that down, TCT readers.

Meanwhile, not to worry, overclass. Answers, as always, are being perfected by heroes like Hagedorn. Thanks to the emerging standard practice of “integrating code to measure in-app content and ad consumption…on literally every [video-watching] platform, device and client app,” the crude surveillance methods of the past are on their way out.

The days of yore wherein the [Nielsen] panel served as the proxy for an audience — setting behavior, reach, and cost estimates — fall out of the picture. Google and Facebook , along with telecom “pipes” like AT&T and Verizon , and retailers like Amazon, have massive install bases that are logged in across screens, making identity-based marketing not only feasible, but the most accurate solution to capture these new consumer behaviors.

We’ll no longer need the panel as proxy for an audience, as we’ll have a deterministic view of the people in the audience. Identity-based marketing becomes the solution that holds consumer identity as the currency against which we measure, plan and buy media across devices and platforms.

As many of these platforms own the consumer experience from end to end – not just identifying their audience at a granular level, but also creating the content being consumed – it’s only a matter of time until these identity-based currencies and identity-based experiences become the marketer’s art. [WSJ, 9/22/2017]

I’ll Take That Bet

JulesPolonetsky Jules Polonetsky is executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum, an industry-supported privacy group whose supporters include Acxiom, Facebook and Mastercard Worldwide.

It’s a group that exists, in other words, to make sure PR heads off actual laws.

Here’s what Don Quixote Polonetsky promises his fair Dulcinea, per Advertising Age:

[T]he Future of Privacy Forum worked with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, and leading mobile location analytics companies to develop a code of conduct that encourages responsible use of in-store technology to improve the shopping experience [TCT: ROFL!] while respecting user privacy. This code can be [TCT: How?] enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, and provides strong [TCT: ROFL again] requirements:

Ensure consumers are not personally identified unless they expressly consent

Create a central Do Not Track site where consumers can permanently opt-out if they wish

Post conspicuous signage in bricks-and-mortar locations so consumers are aware of the use of location technology

These technologies offer some exciting opportunities to maximize convenience for consumers and to help them get the best prices. They all rely on using mobile data in new ways, and all can raise concerns if not handled properly.

Stores are faced with a choice: They can keep quiet about these new technologies while implementing minimal privacy protections, or they can be up-front and conspicuous about how mobile data is being used and proactively define its tangible benefits to consumers. The former risks alienating consumers, while the latter gives retailers the opportunity to build their brand, trust, and deepen relationships with customers.

Golly, I wonder which route “stores” will take…

Meanwhile, notice what is really being suppressed here either way — the public will. Even if all “stores” were to adopt Polo’s code, is there any doubt that a huge swath of shoppers would end up getting duped into allowing the supposedly “good” things proposed by this front group?

Koop it Up

brill In the spirit of C. Everett Koop, Joycelyn Elders, and Diane Ravitch, it appears we have our latest heretical honest public servant mistakenly-appointed high government agency administrator. This time, it’s Julie Brill, pictured at left, head of the Federal Trade Commission. Per Advertising Age:

Big data brokers are “taking advantage of us without our permission.” Those were the words of Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill this morning at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in Washington.

The commissioner, often vocal on data-privacy issues, called on Congress to legislate what she calls a “Reclaim Your Name” program, one that would establish technical controls allowing people to access the information data collectors have stored about them, control how it is shared and correct it when necessary.

As always, the reaction was immediate:

The Direct Marketing Association was caught off guard by Commissioner Brill’s announcement. “DMA has been in discussion with Commissioner Brill regarding ways to increase transparency in the ‘data broker’ industry, but was surprised to see her announcement of this new initiative,” said Rachel Thomas, VP of government affairs at DMA. “The FTC’s Section 6B inquiry into ‘data brokers’ is still ongoing, and the Commission has yet to articulate a specific problem that would justify a call for congressional action in this area,” she continued in an emailed statement.

The fun continued, too, as Brill dared tell the obvious truth about another aspect of corporate marketing-spying:

Ms. Brill indicated that the FTC believes mobile device IDs are personally-identifiable…. “Information linked to specific devices is, for all intents and purposes, linked to individuals,” she said.

The FTC is calling on data companies and users of consumer data “to commit to a robust program to de-identify their information,” she said, arguing that predictive analytics have rendered much of the consumer information collected as forever linked to individuals, no matter industry’s claims that the information often is anonymized or aggregated.

Companies should “take both technical and behavioral steps to make sure information used in advertising is truly and completely de-identified.” Ms. Brill didn’t make distinctions between data collected and used by first-parties and third-parties.

Countless retailers and consulting firms that provide data services to them — such as Acxiom, Merkle and many others — handle terabytes of personally-identifiable consumer data on a regular basis.

Ms. Brill’s comments come amid revelations that the National Security Administration has gleaned consumer phone call and Internet data from corporations including Verizon, Google and Facebook. Indeed, corporate data-harvesting practices for logistics and marketing purposes have facilitated the controversial NSA data grab.

Companies collecting or employing data should make a public commitment not to re-identify information, and should contractually require their partners to make the same commitments, continued the commissioner.

How can you tell when you have the overclass dead-to-rights? That’s when they have nothing left to say but plain denial. According to Ad Age:

Many of the companies using device IDs to track in-store shopping behavior and other location-based interactions hold that they are not.

“Many” here means “all,” of course…

One wonders: How long til Zerobama cans Brill?

Another Voice of the System

Just as Fred Taylor spoke corporate capitalism’s words about work and its control, so did Google CEO Eric Schmidt voice the system’s deepest truth about privacy in the face of marketing:

That was in December of 2009.

Dig the usefulness of the “war on terror” and its subcomponents to the marketing juggernaut. Why does the privacy of commoners not exist to Google and its customers? It’s absolutely because privacy is anathema to the basic conduct of big business in our age of two-way communications. Privacy would end the overclass’s ability to gather data on our off-the-job behavior via new media, and thereby refine and extend their sales efforts. But, thanks to the Patriot Act, Schmidt can get away without mentioning this elementary fact, and pretend he’s just a patriot doing his lawful duty.

And, as Gawker rightly remarked at the time of Schmidt’s Taylorian utterance, consider also the radical uni-directionality of the relationship in question. Privacy is nothing, a mere remnant of earlier times to be eroded and strangled as quickly as people will allow, to those looking out from the corporate boardroom. What happens in the boardroom and in the lives of the primary beneficiaries of the system? Try telling them they have no privacy rights, and that all their affairs are open to public scrutiny…