The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s decision late last week about the use of consumer data by Net providers may only be the first step toward a complete reinvention of how digital ads are targeted in the U.S.
Just look at Europe to get a sense of where this may lead.
Last Thursday, the FCC approved a new policy that requires Net providers like Comcast to obtain opt-in consent from their customers before they can use a customer’s behavioral data, or share it with third parties like ad platforms.
Consumers have to opt-in to allow, say, their browsing history or app history to be shared, as well as their health or financial info, Social Security numbers, search data, SMS messaging, or the content of their emails. Excluded from this category of sensitive data are IP addresses and device identifiers.
This doesn’t apply to the data collected by web sites or social networking platforms like Facebook, which fall under the supervision of the Federal Trade Commission.
Consumer groups like The Center for Democracy and Technology approve of the move. But the ad industry, as you might expect, thinks otherwise.
“It’s like going back to the Stone Age in terms of advertising in a non-targeted way to a mass audience you know nothing about,” ad agency DDB executive vice president and director of digital Azher Ahmed told Digiday.
Actually, it’s more like the Bronze Age. If you want to see what an advertiser’s Stone Age might look like, go to Europe in a little less than two years.