Four out of five Americans support banning surveillance advertising. This type of advertising, also known as targeted advertising, uses consumers’ personal data, including age, gender, interests and behavioral tendencies, to feed them targeted advertisements. This strategy has been a huge profit generator for giants like Google and Meta, but targeted advertising may not exist for a long time.
In January, US Senator Cory Booker announced the introduction of the Banning Surveillance Advertising Act; a bill that would do just that. If passed, this legislation would “prohibit ad networks and enablers from using personal data to target ads, except for broad geographic targeting to a recognized location, such as a municipality.” The bill would also prevent advertisers from “targeting ads based on class-protected information, such as race, gender, religion and personal data purchased from data brokers.”
Practices that abuse consumer privacy
Documentaries like The Social Dilemma and Social Media Whistleblowers have dominated the headlines and opened the public’s eyes to how their data is being used and people aren’t happy. The wider implications of surveillance advertising are far more serious than simply influencing purchases. As Senator Booker explained, “hoarding people’s personal data not only violates privacy, but also promotes the spread of misinformation, domestic extremism, racial division, and violence.”
Even if the law prohibiting surveillance advertising is not passed, it will certainly not be the last bill of its kind. The days of targeted advertising are numbered as consumers become more discerning about how their information is used. As analyst Yoram Wurmser said, this bill is “a signal of dissatisfaction and the danger of relying entirely on an advertising model that could disappear.”
It’s time for businesses to start thinking beyond targeted advertising. But what does this mean for the future of customer experience?
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Nothing like getting to know customers
Companies that have a strong strategy around listening and empathizing with customers shouldn’t be threatened by legislation that limits targeted advertising — they know their customers well enough to know what will resonate widely. Ultimately, a deep understanding of your customers will drive your advertising strategy more than targeted advertising’s engagement metrics.
Just because a person sees an ad that was tailored to them based on their gender, age, or other personal information doesn’t mean they’ll resonate with them. This is especially true if the ad is designed by someone who doesn’t belong to the same demographic, as is often the case. Targeted advertising is a very effective revenue generator – no doubt – but businesses would do well not to put all their eggs in one basket and lose sight of what really matters – understanding customers enough to know what will click.
Related Article: On Data Privacy Day, 5 Organizations Explain How They Protect Consumer Data
The option for consumers to register is essential
Maintaining customer trust is integral to the success of every business. A report found that “70% of consumers say trusting a brand is more important today than in the past, and more people are choosing to spend money with brands they trust. trust”. Giving customers the choice to “opt-in” and consent to having their data collected is a critical part of building that trust.
Last year, Apple gave its customers the option to opt-in to receiving targeted ads from apps on their phones. The majority of iPhone users (62%) opted out – another testament to consumers’ desire for privacy – but it sparked a wider conversation about the importance of transparency and acceptance. As long as targeted advertising exists, consumers should have an informed choice to sign up.
And while the majority of consumers “choose” to be followed, the only option for companies to have a full understanding of the market is to offer those consumers ways to “subscribe” to comments (if they do). wish). If companies are capturing consumers who want to provide feedback, the option should be rich and genuine – think customer interviews, purchases, and surveys.
Explore advertising strategies that don’t rely on personal data
If the Surveillance Advertising Ban Act is passed, it will still allow location-based advertising in addition to contextual advertising. These types of advertising are likely to stay, and businesses would be well advised to consider how to maximize the effectiveness of both avenues.
This will require better understanding what is most important to users in certain contexts, and the best way to do this is to understand, observe and empathize with customers. By talking regularly with customers and exploring what works best for them in certain contexts, businesses can deliver ads that have an impact.
If surveillance advertising is banned at some point in the future (and it seems likely that it will at least be limited), it will have a significant impact on the bottom line of many companies.
Consider this a wake-up call: it’s time to plan for the future of advertising and customer experience without access to consumers’ personal information. This is an opportunity for businesses to reconsider their advertising efforts and ensure they have an ethical customer listening model focused on truly understanding customers as human beings, not just ad impressions or conversion data.