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Private or Relevant: Which Approach to Big Data Will You Take?

Apple’s latest technology prioritizes personal preferences when it comes to advertising. So, will you choose to remain more private, or see more relevant ads?

Revolution Digital  |  June 11, 2021
Private or Relevant: Which Approach to Big Data Will You Take?

Okay, I’ll admit it: ads can be annoying. When you are dying to watch your favorite YouTube video and you have to wait a whole 15 seconds to get to your content, it’s just frustrating. On behalf of the entire industry, I apologize. But I also want to point out that we have gone to great lengths to make ads less bothersome by making them more relevant for the viewer. Unfortunately, people aren’t exactly happy with how we got to this idyllic state of targeted advertising.

For years, there has been a lot of debate about advertisers collecting, using and selling personal data to get to know you better so that the right content can be served to you exactly when you need it most (come on, it’s like magic!). But many people just can’t bear the thought of their data being in a database that tracks every move and predicts what we will do before we even know we want to do it. To the average consumer, it is a little… well, creepy. I get it.

As someone in the industry, I have always known that ads (well, good ones, at least) are targeting a specific audience. So, it does still surprise me when I have a conversation with someone who’s only just realizing that they’re being tracked and very specifically targeted. In the last two years or so, it seems more and more people have entered the matrix and become aware that their data is being sold to the highest bidder – and many are just not having it.

Apple’s latest iOS 14.5 update introduced its App Tracking Transparency (ATT), which requires apps to get your permission before sharing your activity and data with advertisers. Back in the old days (a few months ago), apps could share consumer activity and usage behavior with advertisers unless a person opted-out. But again, many people were blissfully unaware that they were being tracked, until they were specifically asked if they wanted to share their data.

Apple made a bold move. And now, other companies notoriously making money from sharing consumer data are trying to figure out how to keep consumers feeling secure on their platforms without losing that valuable revenue gained from selling data. Facebook completely disagrees with Apple’s new update and has been very vocal about it. They claim that the small businesses who use their platform for super-targeted ads will be the ones affected the most. And they’re not wrong. A lot of small business, specifically Direct to Consumer startups, would have never gotten off the ground if they didn’t have the ability to find their precise consumer using third-party data. Imagine a world without Warby Parker, Stitch Fix or Blue Apron? (Gasp.)

We are all anxious to see what happens in the next 6-12 months, but one thing is for sure: advertising isn’t going away – even if we have to go back to the days of mass targeting and hoping we’re hitting the right demographic. (Gasp again.) It will come down to a person’s personal comfort with privacy. Some of us are an open book and will opt in to sharing our data so that we can be served the information most relevant to us. And others, who go to great lengths to keep everything they do a mystery, may opt out and wonder why, as a 30-year-old man, they receiving ad after ad for ultra-leak protection tampons.

Fortunately, big data is not all we have to rely on. At Rev-D, we have always coupled big data with what we like to call “intimate” data. It’s part of our Rev-D i process. And, for now, people are still intentionally sharing this intimate data all day, every day. To find out more about our Rev-D i approach read our recent whitepaper here.

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