Don Marti

Mon 17 Dec 2012 06:33:37 PM PST

Adtech: the end is near?

Tom Lowenthal on the Mozilla Privacy Blog: Being social with privacy in mind. Interesting approach between blocking all third-party tracking, privacy hawk style, and the wide open JavaScript and cookie security models that the current social marketing experts take for granted.

Meanwhile, it looks as if advertisers are getting the picture on privacy tech, quickly. Erin Griffith writes, if things keep going the way they have, many adtech startups may find their products are suddenly useless. (via Andre's Notes).

Privacy tech is rapidly going beyond "Do Not Track" to more sophisticated approaches—browser developers are finally fixing some of the bad assumptions about third-party content that the industry made back during the late-90s dot-com frenzy. (If you'd like a user-friendly preview of where the browser is going, try Ghostery. Privacy tech for people who aren't necessarily privacy nerds, just willing to put up with a little inconvenience.)

Why all the mainstream attention to privacy now? We can probably thank retargeting. When a pair of shoes that you looked at on one site starts "stalking you" across apparently independent sites, it's hard to miss. Alan Pearlstein writes, We collect a lot of anonymous data about every web surfer. No need to shove that fact in the consumer's face, it only freaks them out.

Pearlstein recommends taking a subtle approach, but it looks like the freak-out is already in full effect. Erin Griffith has it right: the industry needs to get ready for a post-adtech environment.

Yes, the adtech scene is still breaking new ground in creepiness and failing to understand that it's creepy at all. But it's starting to sound like the kind of consensus chatter that comes before the end. It's on the way out. And what's bad news for adtech is good news for advertising proper.

So why worry about advertising at all? One study by Ferdinand Rauch, Advertising and consumer prices, concludes, The aggregate effect is informative, which means that, on average, advertising decreases consumer prices. Advertising is good for the economy, overall. At some point we'll be thankful that browser makers have made the right moves to save it from creepy adtech.