Having Our Advertising Cake

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Bloomberg: Three-Quarters of iOS Users Opt Out of Tracking — Pixel Envy

The online advertising industry has been telling us for years that consumers overwhelmingly prefer personalized ads and are only too happy to give up private information. What a crock of lies. The ad tech industry has been relying on a lack of transparency and consent to drive its business. When given a choice, there is now large-scale evidence that people abhor tracking and will usually opt out.

And from a recent Stratechery (paid):

It seems possible — even likely — that the actual experience of advertising isn’t going to change, even as a complete rework of the plumbing has the primary impact of consolidating profits under the two companies that already control everything; whether that is an acceptable trade-off is a matter of philosophy.

This whole advertising topic is really complicated, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you a narrative. I think people do prefer targeted ads to untargeted ones, they just don’t want to share their data to get them. People also like free websites but use ad blockers. We like to eat candy but don’t want to lose weight.

So when advertisers say customers prefer tailored ads, I believe them. But I also believe that when people are given the chance to opt out of the cost of those ads, they’ll say no.

Advertising isn’t going anywhere, and as Ben Thompson points out, moving all ad tracking to the device, that puts all the power in Apple and Google’s hands. Whether you’re okay with that is up to you.