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Are Apple’s Anti-Web Tracking Services a Threat to the Marketing Industry?

January 10, 2018 | Nikki Bisel

A woman sitting on a couch, using an iPhone, focusing intently on the screen as she explores web tracking services with one hand. Only her hands and the phone are in clear view.

In a report that came out earlier this week a major ad technology firm, Criteo, cut its 2018 revenue by more than one-fifth as a result of Apple’s anti-web tracking services baked directly into their Safari browser on iOS devices and macOS computers.
Should the marketing industry be worried about its future? We discuss the nitty gritty...

Do you see what iSee?

Step out your front door and walk to your nearest coffee shop, grocery store, or any other place that is frequented by humanity. Then look around. What do you see?
More often than not, you’re going to see a lot of people of various ages staring down at those handheld windows to the web we call smartphones — you’ve probably heard of them.
Now look closer, still. What do you notice about these smartphones? If the latest metrics are worth their salt, you’ll see that at least one-third of the devices in any one area are Apple iPhones. Combined with the community of Mac users, Apple’s default web browser, Safari, accounts for 15% of global web surfers — a small but significant portion of users.
Why is this important?

The internet, brought to you by your favorite brands...

It’s no secret that the open and free internet has long been powered by specially placed advertisements. Without ad revenue, websites that don’t sell products – such as news media or entertainment sites – simply would not have the funds to exist.
This is similar to how network television operates: you have a free series of channels that you can watch with segments of commercials sprinkled in between in order to keep your favorite networks (and shows) on the air.
Unlike television, however, ad agencies quickly learned that the internet held much more advertising potential than television. They could leverage unique identifiers, such as IP addresses, wifi data and cookies to follow users around the web and record their interests to serve consumers more relatable ads, thus increasing the chances of users purchasing products as a result of these ads.
Unfortunately, this is where the line between “creative marketing” and “creepy marketing” starts to blur. Turns out, many online users don’t like advertisers recording every move they make across the web.

How did we get here?

In the age of technology where people post everything from their deepest feelings, their greatest experiences, and even their picture-perfect lunches to social media (you know you do), society actually values privacy now more than ever.
People want to be in control of what they share with the world wide web and what they don’t — not ad agencies and brands. Unfortunately, due to the tracking techniques employed by some of the largest ad companies in the world, the people of the internet weren’t always given this right. In fact, many online users – maybe even you – have been exploited.
For instance, have you ever researched a certain product or service on Google just to find ads for this same product or service pop up in your Facebook feed days later? If so, you’ve been targeted by an ad agency.
This behavior led major technology companies, like Apple, to build and implement solutions for their customers.

Ads aren’t enough!

That leads us to a simple proclamation: ads simply aren’t enough anymore. They’re not enough for brands, they’re not enough for consumers, and frankly, they’re not enough for marketing firms of any size, location or demographic.
Ads by themselves are lazy on an agency’s part; it takes only a minimal degree of critical thinking to dispatch a bunch of static sales pitches to follow people around the web. And with tech giants like Apple fighting back, ads are now becoming less effective, as well.
Don’t get us wrong. As a marketing consultancy + agency, Seafoam’s team understands the importance of ad placement. But serving a few ads to anonymous groups versus siccing a targeted barrage upon individual human beings is very different, especially in terms of individual privacy.
It shouldn’t have taken something as disruptive as anti-web tracking services to make the marketing industry stop and think about how they relate to their customers. It’s our job – the industry’s duty – to provide client services and customer experiences that do not breach humanity’s trust.
In short, anti-web tracking services are keeping the marketing industry honest by promoting a sense of humanity and invoking creativity to engage with customers – not turn them into dollar bills as quickly as possible.

What’s next for the marketing industry?

So where do we go from here? If you read the last paragraph, you already know the answer:
Engage with humanity.
As targeted ads lose more and more ground to anti-web tracking services, the marketing industry will have to cultivate more influential ways of connecting with customers.

We predict that content marketing will continue to strengthen throughout the next several years; video will be extremely important, and although the written word may cede some ground to more visual presentations, blogging should still have a place in your strategy. The importance of human-to-human social media engagement – especially during this time of fake news and social media turmoil – will be paramount to brand success. Finally, creating real-time value for consumers will make the difference between earning their trust or losing them to a competitor.

Back to you!

Now that you’ve read our thoughts on anti-web tracking services, how they have impacted the marketing industry, and what marketers should do to combat this growing trend, it’s your turn to weigh in!
Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear what you have to say on the subject.
And as always, thank you for stopping by The Anchor by Seafoam Media. We’re grateful for the chance to spend some time online with you.

SOURCE: The Guardian

A woman sitting on a couch, using an iPhone, focusing intently on the screen as she explores web tracking services with one hand. Only her hands and the phone are in clear view.
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