Well, that didn’t take long.
Two major players in online media - Google and Apple - have recently announced that traditional tracking methodologies (third party cookies and IDFA respectively) would be restricted in their systems.
This week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer packaged goods marketer, had
“participated in testing an advertising technique being developed in China to gather iPhone data for targeted ads, a step intended to give companies a way around Apple’s new privacy tools.”
What a lovely idea.
According to the Journal, Procter & Gamble
“…has joined forces with dozens of Chinese trade groups and tech firms working with the state-backed China Advertising Association to develop the new technique.”
It’s not bad enough that these marketing creeps know everything about us, now we have the Chinese government – famous for their respect for individual rights – involved in developing adtech.
Of all the companies that talk out of both sides of their mouth, P&G is definitely a hall of fame candidate. A few years back, their chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, made a name for himself by spouting off at an ANA conference, calling out the online ad industry for its creepiness and crookedness.
Hey, Marc, does it get any creepier than working with Chinese government backed organizations to develop surveillance tools? In their mania for collecting data has Procter & Gamble lost their fucking minds?
A P&G PR release said that its purpose in working with its Chinese partners on this new tracking technology was simply part of its commitment to “deliver useful content consumers want…“
This is 100% undiluted, artisanally curated, organically grown horseshit.
The reason they are doing this is that research has indicated that as many as 85% of iPhone users will not opt-in to be tracked as IDFA goes away. The assertion that the scourge of relentless tracking results in "useful content consumers want” is beyond absurd.
Fear Of Finding Out (FOFO)
A question I am often asked about online advertising by civilians is this:
“If online advertising is as screwed-up as you say it is, how come marketers are spending $300 billion a year on it. They can’t all be stupid.”
My answer usually goes something like this:
“What makes you think they can’t all be stupid?”
It’s a very unsatisfying answer and leaves me wishing I had a better one.
This week I was reading a piece in the London Review of Books that made me think maybe there was a better answer. The author of the piece was discussing the famous eBay study in which it was found that the $50 million eBay was spending annually on paid search ads on Google was a complete waste of money. The eBay study is almost 10 years old.
You would think other large advertisers would have replicated the study to see if their paid search was also a waste of money.
And yet, remarkably…The author of the article wrote,
“It’s striking…that other big firms simply don’t seem to have tried to find out whether they too are wasting their money. Two researchers, Jason Rao and Andrey Siminov , who looked for traces of analogues of the eBay experiments in a large, detailed advertising data set, couldn’t find them. As they put it, perhaps people who had spent money on such advertising didn’t want to take the risk that ‘past expenditure could be revealed as wasteful…’”
Photo credit: Michal Matlon on Unsplash