The Ad Industry Is Changing—Here’s What Publishers Can Expect
The advertising landscape is undergoing its most sweeping transformation in years. Apple just released the new version of Safari, which prioritizes user privacy; an updated version of Google’s Chrome, with a new ad filter, comes out in January; and new rules on data protection in the European Union take effect in May. These changes will give individuals more control over their data and rein in annoying and intrusive advertising.
Digital user data has become the lifeblood of modern advertising. Ads are increasingly targeted based on behavioral data, rather than on demographics. This is why nearly all of digital advertising revenue growth now goes to platforms like Google and Facebook: Those platforms are able to collect unimaginable amounts of data on billions of users and to deliver ads directly to them.
But the tradeoffs for such precision in ad delivery have led to a chaotic, and potentially catastrophic, landscape for publishers who rely on ad dollars. More than 28 percent of US internet users have installed ad blockers. This has been the worst year since 2000 for WPP, the world’s largest ad agency, after, earlier this year, two of the biggest ad spenders in the world, Procter & Gamble and Unilever, decided to slash ad spending in part because of concerns around the transparency and performance of hyper-targeted ads served by algorithms.