This cartoon is a follow-up to a cartoon I drew just four years ago about a kid on Santa’s lap in a different privacy era:
“Well, Timmy, if you didn’t want me to see you when you’re sleeping, know when you’re awake, know if you’ve been bad or good, and sell that data to third parties, then you should have checked your privacy settings.”
In the four years since, the privacy landscape changed dramatically, with Apple’s iOS privacy changes to an opt-in model and Google planning to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome in 2024.
It is estimated that Apple’s privacy changes alone cut ad ROI by 38% and caused a 25% drop in mobile ad spend.
A recent data summit hosted by The Drum estimated that 70% of consumers have gone “data dark.” They referred to this group of consumers as the “Invisible 70%.”
To reach the “Invisible 70%”, brands, tech platforms, and retailers are all investing deeply in building up their first-party data troves. That includes Apple and Google, whose privacy moves have increased the value of their own walled gardens of first-party data.
Retailers are using their first-party data to create “Retail Media Networks” that Brent Rosso at cosmetic retailer Ulta Beauty described as “the hottest thing in the media world.”
Here’s how Andra Mititelu at Permutive described the appeal of first-party data the The Drum’s data summit:
“Consumers now have more choice, and they are deciding to exercise the choice that is given to them by privacy changes. They are opting out of their data being used by the ad tech layer in the middle but they’re not necessarily opting out of direct first-party relationships with brands and publishers they know and trust. They understand that where they have a direct relationship with a brand and there’s a fair value exchange, they don’t mind sharing that data.”
But how this plays out in practice will depend on how those brands, tech platforms, and retailers each use that first-party data. They’ll have to continually prove to consumers that the value exchange is worth it. In any kind of personalization, there’s a fine line between cool and creepy.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: