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GDPR will pop the adtech bubble (blogs.harvard.edu)
668 points by mpweiher on May 13, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 437 comments



Oddly, I think the article underestimates the size of the change coming. I think one side affect of the surge of IT into advertising, is that it has become easier to measure exactly how well advertising works. By and large, it doesn't, very well.

I am reminded of this, from Paul Graham, about his time at Yahoo: http://www.paulgraham.com/yahoo.html

"...The reason Yahoo didn't care about a technique that extracted the full value of traffic was that advertisers were already overpaying for it. If Yahoo merely extracted the actual value, they'd have made less."

I'm pretty sure that, the more we learn about how well advertising works, the less money people will be willing to pay for it. What's happening to billboards and newspapers right now is probably coming to several other industries soon.


> By and large, it doesn't, very well.

I know Twitter isn't known for being the best at advertising, but it was made exceptionally clear to me that online advertising is a massive bunch of lies when I did my GDPR Twitter data export and it included me in a bunch of incorrect, non-sensical and contradictory ad targeting groups.

Twitter claims I:

    * Own a cat, dog and other animal (I don't)
    * Have between $100k- $999k liquid investible assets (I don't)
    * Have a net worth between $1 and $1m (cool - I own *something*)
    * Am highly affluent (/shrug)
    * Am a high spender (okay...)
    * Am a frugal spender  (...but how can I be both a high spender AND frugal)
    * Own a house (I don't)
    * Have multiple families (I don't)

I was very disappointed that the Google and Facebook data exports don't contain this data. Maybe it's for their best.


> GDPR Twitter data export and it included me in a bunch of incorrect, non-sensical and contradictory ad targeting groups.

This is expected. It's not desirable, but it is expected.

The problem is your comparing it to an absolute. I.e. to perfect.

If advertisers had that choice, they would love it. They generally don't. Remarketing is kinda close, but limits the scale.

Rather, the only other scalable options are far worse. Think about it. What are the marketers other choices?

The one that should come to mind, and the one they spend most of their money: TV.

With TV you pick up a huge amount of waste. Say you buy a spot on Big Bang because you want people thinking of buying a new iPhone. Not a big stretch, right? At the same time thinking of all the other people they have to buy, who watch the ad, and aren't buying an iPhone. It's waste.

And that waste is huge relative to what you're talking about above.

So you're asking the wrong question here. It's not how good is the targeting in terms of precision/recall. The question is what's better?

The waste here is generally known & its priced accordingly.

> I was very disappointed that the Google and Facebook data exports don't contain this data.

It's in my Facebook export. Under "Information About You" did you uncheck "Ads"?

That's where the information is contained & it's checked by default.

You can also view it here for both FB & Google, as well as opt of both:

https://adssettings.google.com/authenticated?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/about/basics/advertising


> Rather, the only other scalable options are far worse.

Is it really worse than "this article is about X, Y is related, let's show some ads for Y"?

I bet from the point of view of the advertisement middlemen it is not. Because they capitalize mostly on showing ads of products that people already decided to buy or are very near deciding. But that is yet another racquet that only decreases the value of the industry. My question is, from the point of view of the real advertisers (the ones selling something), is it really worse?


Right but the advertising budgets for things actually related to articles or other media content are vastly dwarfed by the advertising budgets for unrelated things that actually make more revenue/profit.

So you'll end up having to try to monetize something that has little no no related things that are profitable to advertise.


> What are the marketers other choices?

Advertise on a tech site, 80+% will be interested in tech.

Advertise on a dog community site is probably pretty spot on if you want to target dog owners...

Far better than what, 5% ? This isn't rocket science, we sold everyones integrity for pennies.

> who watch the ad, and aren't buying an iPhone. It's waste.

No, advertisements like that are more about selling the brand than selling iphones. Something TV is probably pretty good for.


> Advertise on a dog community site is probably pretty spot on if you want to target dog owners...

That would probably target dog enthusiasts or dog hobbyists or dog fanatics, which are all subsets of dog owners.

I think that one of the things that makes social media ad targeting so attractive to advertisers is that they can target the dog owners, instead of just the enthusiasts/hobbyists/fanatics.


> Advertise on a dog community site is probably pretty spot on if you want to target dog owners...

Big brands struggle with UGC. Witness the events of YouTube & brand safety.

But even without that, what you're saying just isn't scalable. What community site can reach even 50% of dog owners -- let alone what a primtetime sitcom or YouTube can reach?

> No, advertisements like that are more about selling the brand than selling iphones. Something TV is probably pretty good for.

What? Sure, they have campaigns running for awareness, recall, perception.

But you're really saying Apple doesn't dramatically increase its spend when a new phone is released? That's poppycock.


Only google et al cares about scalability, everyone else cares about results. Only google needs to sell ads without any knowledge about the product or audience, this scales extremely well but leads to poor results.

> But you're really saying Apple doesn't dramatically increase its spend when a new phone is released? That's poppycock.

When is the best time to sell the brand? When your flagship is a year old and still costs as much as on launch day and when the competition has surpassed you? Hardly.


People that has enough interest to use a dog-forum has too much knowledge of quality to buy things that a company advertises. They will know already what works for their dog and does not listen to advertising in the normal sense. They might however listen to bloggers that has been payed to talk about brands.

If you buy ads, you want them displayed to the non-fanatics that is not influenced by experience and vulnerable to brand exposure.


As long as the algorithms are close to or better than this model why would they bother? One is all automated and the other is a lot of work dealing with individual websites (even if it is just a matter of manual targeting settings)


I'd say they are much much worse, but they are scalable and cheaper so that kind of makes up for it.

But the only one who cares is the middleman. They are the only ones that benefit from the scale.


> Advertise on a dog community site is probably pretty spot on if you want to target dog owners...

Give me a list of dog community site to target 1 millions dog owners.

Now tell me how expensive it would be to show ads on theses websites.

Plenty of dog owners are on Facebook, much easier to target 1 millions dog owner there instead.

Did I forget to mentions that it's for a dog shop in Montreal? Good luck!


Looking at the hundreds of mostly incorrect or irrelevant demographics that Twitter has be in, I would still say there’s a huge amount of waste going on. At least with offline advertising (like TV or print) the “fuzziness” is very explicit. Here, Twitter sells you that you can target “dog owners”, but nowhere through the Twitter ad buy process does it tell you how BS that targeting is.


And that's why Twitter is not doing as well as Facebook. Facebook doesn't need algorithms to know what you are interested in, where you like to eat, etc. You explicitly tell them in your info and by what types of articles you like and share, and what you post.


Well I’ve told Twitter that I hate Blockchain and think it’s all BS, yet I still get ads for ICOs and “Uber for the blockchain” - whatever the fuck that is.

Again, I guess this is because Twitter sucks at advertising.


Twitter is the same, except even more-so. People tweet 10+ times a day, update FB status infrequently.

All the things FB has done to extract things like resturant data etc are product development they undertook. Twitter spent 10 years moving form 140 characters to 280 instead.


Even if that is true, when people sign up for Facebook, they fill out a bio telling FB their work history, their school affiliations, who their family members are, their hometowns and current cities, they check in where they are at, tell FB their favorite books, music, tv shows, thier gender, relationship status, thier sexual preference, and thier political party affiliation. Everyone doesn't fill out everything, but a lot of people do.


That's exactly my point.

There is no reason why Twitter couldn't have done the same 5 years ago. And no reason that they can't do it now.

(Also people are just as likely to follow and talk about things like tv shows and music and politics on Twitter as FB)


Plus the fact that they can also average your interests from information volunteered by your friends and family because "birds of a feather, flock together".

IOW, Twitter followers may be total strangers to many IRL, unlike Facebook followers.


Traditionally, it wasn't necessarily considered a waste to give people a positive feeling about your brand even if they weren't the specific ones who wanted to buy, because everybody talks to everyone else.

I think advertisers have been chasing a chimera via targeting, because not only doesn't it work well, but there is a trade-off to maintaining a brand.


I’ll tell you one thing that’d be better: prices and wages that make sense. I shouldn’t be faced with dozens of subscriptions just to lead basically the same life I did over a decade ago with half those subscriptions (or fewer). And being paid 5x what I made then shouldn’t feel like I’m making it work but not saving much. And I shouldn’t be getting sales calls over 4 months after having used TrueCar.


For the frugal/high spender conflict, I can kind of see how that might happen.

I try to buy quality goods because cheap stuff doesn't last. That means spending more up front to spend less in the long run. So frugal, but also maybe high spender?

My mom always says: if you're poor, you can't afford to buy cheap.


All things equal (features that I need from the product) I like to buy high quality things because they make me feel good (they look well built, they give me this warm feeling inside that I got my money's worth). But I realize this is all emotional and rationally I shouldn't, in most cases.

I don't think they pay off long term, at least it seems heavily dependent on the product type. That's because we are playing a lottery game, even if this product breaks in 0.1% cases vs 5% cases for a much cheaper product, we're not buying large numbers of them, we're buying just one and while the probability to break on me is smaller it can still happen and the monetary loss would be much larger than if I were to buy the cheaper product. That is, the warranty doesn't scale with the price (the expensive top quality TV is $2000 and the cheaper one is $500 and both have 1 year of warranty), for the same money I can buy 4 of those $500 TVs and would last at least 4 years (but very likely to find at least one that will work much longer, since I'm buying up to 4 of them).


That almost never works for the reason you describe. For any quality item that lasts M times as long as the cheap item, you can almost always find N > M such that you can buy N copies of the cheap item for the price of one quality item. You do not spend less in the long run, though you can convince yourself of that. The primary effect of buying cheap is not financial, it's that you're dealing with less quality over the entire usage lifetime (hence getting less utility out of it) and the replacement effort has cost (but which for poor people is very little by definition).


It is probably because they have to show you the categories/tags but they are not required to show you the exact percentage/probability. So in their db they have it like 80% frugal spender, 15% high spender but when exported you see it as a yes/no which is confusing.


I guess the 'spoiler' is that I'm fortunate enough to certainly not be a frugal spender. Yet another data point they have about me that they sell, but is completely incorrect.


I think this might be it eg spending $250 instead of $50 on shoes or boots for longer life and improved comfort.


$250 shoes do not last 5 times as long as $50 shoes. Improved comfort is the main benefit.


The math can work out in some cases. I've had my 400$ Allen Edmunds for 8 years, some wear, but generally still in fantastic shape and very comfortable. Prior to getting them I bought 1-3 pairs of ~70$ department store shoes per year.


Usually it's very anecdotal and hard to tell ahead of time. My current shoes cost 40€ and that was about 4 years ago. So they have lasted atleast half as long as your expensive shows for 1/10th the price.


I have some inexpensive Chinese-made boots that are over a decade old, I think. It can't be the norm that shoes last 4 months, unless you are talking about wearing down the soles of running shoes.


easier to repair also


Have they got the following mostly right:

    * Your age bracket;
    * The fact that your net worth is positive (not deep in debt);
    * Whether you live in a city / suburb / countryside;
    * Which part of country is that;
    * Your gender;
    * Your race / ethnicity, broadly?
If so, they still have an immensely precise focus on you, compared to TV, radio, or paper media, even if they're mistaken about your cat.


I don't know about the person in question, but in order:

* Yes, but the age bracket for me is _very_ wide (it says "alive and not in need of new knees yet probably", but not much more)

* They didn't have this info

* This was wrong

* No, they didn't have this (although the country itself was correct)

* Wrong

* They did not have this


He just doesn't want to admit on HN that he has a cat.


Yep agreed. As a salesperson, knowing someone went to college is often more helpful than knowing what exact college someone went to - too personalized is just creepy. I think the trick is somewhere around the space being able to accurately engage someone with of "hey you look like the sort of person who might be interested in xyz".


Yeah, my impression is that this whole "smart, targeted ads" thing is actually just a lie, and that it's really more of a "spray and pray" kind of thing.

It's a bubble!


But everyone using this spray and pray knows it is far from perfect. You just use the best you can get and knows about the imperfections. Spray and pray also works in a broad sense.


I had very similar experience with Facebook when tried to check my profile. Out of 20 interests only 4 were correct

I think it is an intentional stretching the interests way to far to look better for advertisers.

In more details: https://levashov.biz/can-trust-facebook-audience-interests/


The idea of advertising is also to create interest where there is none. If you all of a sudden see an ad about those other topics your aren't super interested yet, maybe you will become. That's the idea of manipulation and marketing.


That's the kind of advertisement TV is selling, not what social media are claiming to sell.


For Google, something similar can be found under My account -> Personal info & privacy -> Ads settings.


Most of the topics Google thinks I'm interested in are close enough. But American football and Parenting? I don't know where they got those. I have to consciously think to come up with the name of the local team ("Mariners? No, that's baseball."), and we don't have kids nor any plans to do so.

Maybe it was all the clicking on CafeMom.com (mommy blog with tons of trackers and ads) while I was testing the Pi-Hole set up. :-)


Would like to see my own. How do you do that?


> I was very disappointed that the Google and Facebook data exports don't contain this data.

Facebook has it available, if not in their Download Your Information tool. Go to Settings -> Ads -> Your Information -> Categories.


Mine says "You do not have any behaviors in your ad" preferences. https://i.imgur.com/giAxfiF.png

But interesting page. Looking at the "advertisers who have added your details to their targeting list" it again shows how bullshit this industry is:

    * Playstation in 19 countries
    * Musicians which I definitely don't listen to, like Keith Urban, Post Malone, Jack White, YBN Nahmir, and Ziggy Marley, whoever these people are.
    * Pages like "Top Kickstarter Watches" and "Top Kickstarter Inventions"
    * A bunch of restaurants that I've never been to, but are in the same complex that I used to live in (thanks whoever sold/'shared' my email, literally probably my former real estate agent)


Last time I checked mine, it was pretty accurate, but I have a lot of the "PlayStation in <random country>" too!

I also see a lot of PlayStation related ads on my news feed... I haven't used a PlayStation since I got an Xbox one!


One can see it a bit like search where it can be more important to do fast exclude than to have correct include. Those 8 ad targeting groups are potential matches, but what the data do not say is the hundreds of targeting groups which twitter claim that you are not. This kind of fast classification is good as a performance/cost saving technique when the error cost is also low.

Also, one can be high spender and frugal. A person who buy one pair of very expensive shoes and wear them for 10 years rather than buying 10 pairs of inexpensive ones would be such person.


> Facebook data exports don't contain this data

Facebook does have demographics and targeting data. Go to Setting -> Ads -> Your Information -> Your Categories. I haven't found a way to export it.

On the categorization side, Facebook does a half decent job considering I don't upload anything on FB or any other sister sites.

Twitter on the other hand might be running algorithm which tries to extrapolate too much from the available data.


I've never looked at the Google export, but you can see what topics they think you are interested in here: https://adssettings.google.com/authenticated?hl=en

Twitter is just entirely incompetent at everything, so no surprise they get their advertising product wrong too.


Those are just arbitrary names given to clusters of users. If your behavior and responsiveness is similar to others in the group, why should the advertiser care if the label isn't literally true?


That's not a failure of advertising. That's a failure of technology.

The fact that you choose to purchase certain items over other equally suitable items is largely because of advertising.


Facebook believes I'm african-american (I'm not)


You might just be to facebook because you like content similiar to others in an ad group labelled african american.


How much do you use twitter?


By and large, it doesn't, very well.

If that's true, it's not because ad tech doesn't work, it's that most advertisers don't use it properly. A large percentage of my company's revenue comes from performance marketing (running paid traffic to affiliate offers) and it works very well for us. You just have to know what you're doing, make sure you're not getting too much bot/junk traffic, and bid the appropriate amounts. We've written software that handles all of this automatically, and our paid traffic campaigns do amazingly well. Show me another investment in which you can reliably and consistently achieve 30%+ ROI weekly with a fair amount of scalability.

Ironically, native ad networks like Taboola and Revcontent will flourish in the new GDPR world. Since they target ads based mostly on nothing more than the topic of the content that the user is viewing, these ads are effective enough for smart performance marketers to make money with, and GDPR doesn't fundamentally change anything about their model. EU advertisers will flock to native and abandon other forms of advertising that were based on more invasive targeting.


Is that 30% confirmed by a hold out group? The cynic in me suspects most measures, nowadays.

I can't believe nobody is making a profit. I just suspect most of the trick is in generating demand, not finding it. That or diversifying offerings.


Is that 30% confirmed by a hold out group?

I’m not sure what you mean by that. But generally we get about a 30-50% ROI on our native ad campaigns once they are optimized, and most affiliate networks pay weekly if you produce significant revenue. We do better than most because I wrote some clever stuff to identify sites that were sending us mostly bots/bad traffic and automatically blacklist them from showing our ads. There are a ton of these in the native ad space.

I just suspect most of the trick is in generating demand, not finding it.

There are evergreen affiliate niches such as weight loss, hair loss, erectile dysfunction, etc. Aging, bad genetics, and poor lifestyle choices generate the demand for us. Making money in these niches is generally as simple as placing ads on sites where people that belong to certain known demographic groups visit, and reducing fraudulent traffic by as much as possible.


How do you measure the 30%? Compared to previous revenue or compared to a cohort you purposely don't advertise to, but is randomly selected from those you do?

That said, the niches you describe sounds like snake oil markets. :(


If true, it makes a very amusing reversal from the usual story. Rather than peddling their wares to suckers, the placers of the ads have themselves been suckered into buying a product that doesn't work as advertised!


The more you think of it, the more it seems to be totally expected. It's the advertising industry we're talking about. They're not exactly a paragon of honesty. On the contrary, I suspect everyone tries to bullshit everyone else. The few observations I made from working next to people in marketing & advertising supports that viewpoint.

EDIT: reminds me of that one story about A/B testing, which pretty much directly told us how adtech companies are bullshitting their own customers.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10872359

I highlighted the more interesting parts back then: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10873226.


The rumor is that both the Cruz campaign and the Trump campaign found Cambridge Analytics' products to not work as advertised.


The SNP had an introduction to them, and the delegate reported back exactly that: not trustworthy and not a good idea to work with.


Read The Waste in Advertising is the Part That Works: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/4733724_The_Waste_i....

In it E. Ann Hollier and Tim Ambler make a strong case for what has been known from the start about branding: that mass media do it best, without performing at the personal levewl. One corollary for their case might be, "Not everything you value can be measured, and not everything you can measure has value."

Because digital advertising can be both targeted and measured, the whole advertising business decided that ads perform only when they are targeted and measured. But that's not advertising, really. That's direct marketing, which -- as I say in that post -- is descended from junk mail and a cousin of spam.

It's no accident that the $trillion or more spent on adtech hasn't produced a single brand known to the world.

The unanswered question is the one raised in The Problem With Targeting (https://www.dotcoma.it/2015/06/22/the-problem-with-targeting...), and pretty much everything Don Marti and Bof Hoffman (look them up) have been writing as well: is it possible for online advertising to brand products the way offline print and broadcast media could, and still do?

I suspect the answer is no. But my mind is open on the matter.


> By and large, it doesn't, very well.

Compared to what?

It may be easy to provide evidence for:

* Time and resource intensive prebiased word of mouth has a higher conversion rate.

* Conversion rates for mass advertising are very low numbers.

It is also easy to provide numbers for:

* Conversion rates for targeted advertising are significantly higher than non-targeted advertising.

* Having a non-existent marketing strategy for scale markets has a high probability of failure.

What is your position exactly?

Consider also some of what is implied throughout the article, that changes implied may price smaller companies out of the market. This doesn't bode well for competition, particularly for less funded competition. Small p&l organizations typically need to market to drive revenue, they're rarely in a position to push brand marketing strategies alone. Indeed this is a common huge difference between fine and coarse targeted platforms - when did you last see a small p&l trying to advertise on cable? What about on fine target platforms such as Facebook? Do you want such companies to become competitors to brand giants?


There are three main kinds of ads I see: (1) products I just bought, (2) products I would never ever buy, and (3) creepily manipulative clickbait. None of these should be worth the money to the advertiser.

I test drove a car and after I got almost a dozen follow up calls while I was busy with other stuff, I blocked the dealership number. They kept calling me from other numbers, which I also blocked (with the new Android spam filter on my phone). But the amusing thing was that I started seeing ads for the dealership online promoting their "low pressure" sales team!

I made fun of a company called Salsify for naming their business after oyster plant, a root vegetable I can't stand, and now I see ads for them all the time.


> I'm pretty sure that, the more we learn about how well advertising works, the less money people will be willing to pay for it.

That sounds like a statement from someone not very familiar with advertising.

Minimally it's contrary to the agency model & its incentives. A lot spend (the majority?) goes through that model, and it's not likely to change any time soon. And if anything GDPR, will increase it.

That said, even as measurement & attribution improves, the reality is that the effect will be shift to spend around. The better an advertiser can identify waste, they better they can redeploy that spend. Because that improves the ROI, the less it hurts the margin, and the more it makes sense for them to spend.


>I think one side affect of the surge of IT into advertising, is that it has become easier to measure exactly how well advertising works. By and large, it doesn't, very well.

If that was true, Coca-Cola and McDonald's wouldn't exist.


Coke's most successful marketing trick was a giant fluke. Even then, most of their success is probably in cornering the market, not just marketing. In large, many (most?) places sell it because they have an exclusive license that provides cups and supplies.

McDonald's is a funny one. They really don't seem any worse than most other fast food to me. I suspect they saw more expansion from their franchise methods than anything else, though.

Which is not to say the marketing isn't important. I just don't think it deserves the full victory.


I think you're doing a disservice to marketing - both of the elements you've mentioned actually fall under the marketing banner:

- Coke: their branding, market research, and consumer strategy got them where they are today. All are marketing functions.

- McDonald's: franchise go-to-market strategy, branding, consistency of product. All are marketing functions.

Whether or not paid advertising helped them is a whole different argument (and one I'd argue, as when 'tis the season, it's always the real thing...)


Then I contend that marketing is expanded to too large a term. And at that point, yes, it is responsible from everything including product strategy, but also worthless as a term. :(

Might as well debate that "business" is responsible.

Especially if the success is not repeatable. Which, most early practices of large companies today are not repeatable by smaller companies.


Marketing has always been defined by the 4P's: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.

The "business" defines the problem-space and strategic direction (in these cases, food/drink), marketing defines how you address the space (specifics of the products from research and evaluation, market positioning, promotion to audiences), operations executes on the above (supply chain, training, maintenance), and then customer support feeds into all three of the above.

This GCSE Bitesize piece (revision material for UK exams students take at 16) outlines why marketing is more than simply advertising and promotion: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/business/marketing...

Advertising is a subset of marketing, but marketing is a broad term, and is often mistakenly limited in how it's used in arguments (usually to belittle the role of it).


That still seems to broad of a definition. I get that it is taught to be concerned with the 4Ps, but those can clearly exist independent of a marketing department. Or any discernible marketing strategy.

Consider, as well, that the engineering department is also responsible for the Product. In large, they are also influential in the Price. Yet, I think it would also be unfair to give engineering full credit for a successful product. Even if it was well engineered or poorly marketed.

Which is to further my point that I was not trying to dismiss marketing as a valid area that a company should invest in. I just don't think it should deserve full credit for Coke and McDonald's existing. :)


underestimates or overestimates? There is advertising that doesn't require tracking. Simple brand-awareness-building and content-based advertising is pretty profitable without requiring tracking. For a website, the lack of personally-targeted ads may be offset by increasing the number of ad slots. I wonder if there is an estimate on how much value tracking adds.

There is no reason to expect that ad spending will drop in total, because ads never worked very well in any medium, but they worked well enough that it's worth investing in them. The portion of ad spending in TV has not changed significantly the past decades, what has happened is spending has shifted from newspapers to online. but the overall the volume keeps increasing in all media

[1] https://cdn.static-economist.com/sites/default/files/images/...


Oddly, I think YOU are underestimating the size of the change coming, too. An upended industry won't go quietly, and I think we're about to see a lot of technology innovation to circumvent the new wave of privacy restrictions.


I think you're missing the point that's being made in the parent post. It's not that enhanced privacy will cause advertising to implode, it's that as the industry has gained more knowledge and understanding of advertising it's becoming apparent that advertising isn't worth what they thought it was.

I saw a similar up-ending of an ad-dependent industry 15 years ago with newspapers. Advertisers for years assumed a certain value based on the circulation numbers as reported by ABC. There was no real way to directly measure that value other than inferred activity within a geographic region that could arguably be tied to newspaper advertising. With the internet advertisers began to be able to track specific value for ad campaigns based on click-thrus, cost-per-action, etc. Those values were lower than the assumed value of newspaper advertising, which began a shift in where money was spent. Combine that with the fact that ABC numbers started to show that they were far less accurate than originally assumed, due in part to gaming by the papers themselves, and revenue started seriously shrinking. The last firewall that newspaper had was classified, which quickly folded in the face of job and real estate sites and of course craigslist.

Internet advertising has been suffering the same game-playing by sites that newspapers pulled with ABC circ numbers, and as advertisers gather more and better performance data about the value of ads and campaigns they're realizing that value is less than they thought and seems to be trending down.

Regardless of whether there's more or less privacy for users/consumers, the indications are that advertising is becoming less and less valuable.


advertising has never worked, but the delusion that it could work is strong - it seems like there’s probably a neverending supply of businesses who are going to throw some money down the drain, just in case they get lucky. It’s like buying lottery tickets - you don’t do it because of your great ROI, you do it because you’re having a fantasy about results


> I'm pretty sure that, the more we learn about how well advertising works, the less money people will be willing to pay for it. What's happening to billboards and newspapers right now is probably coming to several other industries soon.

I don't see any evidence to support that. Total spending on advertising is increasing every year. Newspaper spending is down, Google & Facebook is way up. Overall it's up.


Yeah, it pretty much doesn't work well. The unit economics is something like "pay 50 cents a click and hope your funnel can monetize that effectively". More if you have more specific/desirable targeting, less if it's broader, but anything you save on the targeting end you lose in funnel effectiveness. If you've got solid data all the way through to conversions and lifetime value, that can either justify dialing ad spend up or down, and it's usually going to be down.


I agree that as an aggregate we're probably massively overpaying for ads for little average effect, but there may be a game-theoretic reason why it does not go away. What if out of 100 competitors the top one gains a lot from ads but the 99 others lose? All 100 have to pay to play to try to be that one. If they cooperated as a cartel they could all pay less for ads and consumers could pay less for products but that is unlikely to happen.


There's a well-worn advertising quote "I waste 50% of my advertising budget. The problem is I don't know what half."


Most ad rates have dropped pretty dramatically since the early dot-com days, though. Are they still overvalued?


Advertising doesn't work that well if you look at the raw numbers. Assume you have a great campaign and awesome conversion funnel, so that you get 1% clicks and 1% conversion.

The math is 100 x 100, or one sale for every 10,000 eyes who sees your ad.

In a vacuum, those numbers are awful. If your entire marketing strategy is buying ads to convert to sales, then of course, advertising doesn't work, and really, you probably shouldn't be advertising in the first place.


The only thing that matters is ROAS. If you spend $1 and get back > $1 in return, it works.

Also about half the market is branding, which is all about exposure rather than direct clicks or conversions.


While reading your comment. I imagined 10,000 one-eyed people. :-)


but what percentage of ad spend on the internet is actually ROI justified? I'd guess it's pretty low, right? I got the impression it's dominated by big brand advertisers that can't calculate ad spend ROI anyway.


The only way to eliminate all waste in advertising is to use an affiliate marketing model and that's the biggest cesspool of them all.


Affiliate marketing does not magically get rid of waste. It just transfers the risk involved to another downstream party, while buying a shield of deniability of the unethical and scam tactics commonly used by affiliates.


We are considering an affiliate model for a new side-product. Can you point out the worst issues we should watch out for ?

(Its a virtual-goods product. Not subscription, but usually multiple-return customers. Around 70% gross margin since we have some high upfront provisioning cost.)


Pressure sales tactics, spamming and hijacking the last click are the things that really work in affiliate marketing


> I think one side affect of the surge of IT into advertising, is that it has become easier to measure exactly how well advertising works. By and large, it doesn't, very well.

I just don't understand the anti-social media agenda. The same people who for 2 years have been saying that social media advertising is so effective that it got trump elected are now saying it is ineffective. They demand that political advertising on social media be monitored because it is so effective that it gets presidents elected. Now, it's social media ad spending is so ineffective that these companies won't be around.

> What's happening to billboards and newspapers right now is probably coming to several other industries soon.

What's happening to billboards and newspapers is that ad money is flooding into digital space ( where the young kids are ).

https://www.iab.com/news/digital-ad-spend-increases-23-year-...

https://www.recode.net/2017/9/14/16294450/mobile-ad-spending...

Why speak so authoritatively about something you obviously know nothing about?


Desperate politicians making absurd rules when:

1) US election went “wrong”.

2) The same is happening to them

3) They’re mostly not hitting their own companies

Obviously it’s a lie. The “right” is gaining in Europe like crazy, not because of Facebook, but because the existing governments have seriously underperformed.

But politicians faced with the choice of admitting mistakes that they don’t even know how to fix, or to wildly and randomly strike at whoever got blamed ...


> The same people who

Is it really the same people? Do you have any examples of this?


"The same people who for 2 years have been saying that social media advertising is so effective that it got trump elected are now saying it is ineffective."

So does that mean you think that social media advertising is effective as people claim and Russian use of it got Trump elected?

Regardless of whether your "same people" is a straw man, the opposite of a set of inconsistent claims tends to also be inconsistent, so I'm not sure what you are trying to say here.


It won't do much. It'll definitely get rid of some low-value companies but that's about it.

People think that adtech has some incredible insights but 99% of data is terrible. If you check your profile at any major site, you'll quickly find that you're probably in several conflicting segments that have nothing to do with you. Context is still king for any marketer who knows what they're doing, but unfortunately the industry is overwhelmed with subpar talent and politics through layers of agencies that buy buzzwords like "AI" and "data". Barely any adtech companies have a direct link to a person, and any links that did exist are even harder now with adblocking, 3rd party cookie deletion, ephemeral mobile device ids, IP renewals, and other noisy and loose signals.

Interestingly, big companies like Facebook and Google that have user logins and 1st party data connections will actually benefit from the higher industry regulation and are not going to lose any of the data that users willingly give to them. ISPs are another major source of data, along with credit agencies and banks, and now giant ecommerce companies like Walmart and Amazon, all of which have very accurate and exhaustive histories and will see little change from GDPR. Overall it's well-intentioned, and good progress, but what it will do is vastly overstated.


What you're describing sounds very much like a bubble that is going to pop...


I said that GDPR will not affect much, other than a few companies that add up to a microscopic market share. Where's the bubble?


The bubble is those companies, although I guess the original article would argue that their market share is (currently) not microscopic.


It's hard to overstate how dominant Facebook and Google are in online ads.


i am hopeful for the idea that shifting from ads to paid services will reduce clickbait. right now may be seen as the yellow journalism moment of the internet.


One surprising side effect of this might be that the hordes of machine learners and data scientists who used to work for adtech might go to healthcare/bioinformatics where we might get new breakthroughs.


A lot will just move to finance...

However, financial firms are usually pretty against open academic research that would allow publication of papers. Many researchers truly value the ability to contribute to this field openly. Perhaps you are right and they will move to health.


Dodd-Frank isn't repealed and AFAIU, it made taking investor money much harder than it used to be.

We can see the next most lucrative fields where ML can be applied to by Alphabet's portfolio: * Calico, Verily - healthcare * Waymo - self driving cars

Another fields which comes to mind is robotics but Google liquidated their holdings related to this (Boston Dynamics) for some reasons.


Hopefully some find their way into rocketry research to help further commoditise space travel.


I'm trying to. It's not simple, if you're not in the US or Germany :<.


Germany, eh? Interesting. What kind of companies in that field are in Germany?

I wish I knew more about this subject.


Too many to list. DLR - Germany's NASA - is a key player in Europe's space industry, so it draws all kinds of space companies to its neighbourhood.

EDIT: those two links might give you a quick overview:

- https://spaceindividuals.com/space-companies

- https://spaceindividuals.com/space-jobs?country=Germany (over 50% of all listed, but not surprising, since the site's owner is in Germany as well)

Right now, I'm trying to map the industry myself.


There are not that many actual hard data science experts in adtech. Much of it is smoke and mirrors with every vendor claiming "AI" even if it's just some excel tweaking. The industry can't even agree on standard metrics or run a campaign without 20% discrepancies.

Also you can definitely apply ML techniques to data without PII, it's just harder, which actually makes the job more in-demand for high-quality talent.


As someone who has just left the advertising industry, and was doing data stuff, the real issue is that a lot of companies have a lot of data but almost none of it has any actual useful information content in it. It’s a bit of a hard concept to explain to explain to people because they go “but there’s a hundred something columns, and hundreds of millions of rows!”, you can have all the data you want, but if it’s all non-indicative trash you’re not going to be able to usefully predict anything, but hey, you’ve hired a data scientist now and added the cost of a big spark cluster to your AWS bill now, so you may as well continue telling the market you’ve got some real hot stuff.


Yes, agreed. Lots of useless data out there that doesn't really have significant signals. Also a lot of it is duplicated with everyone getting the same logs, so I find it hard to believe that any single company magically derived a big advantage over another.

Not to mention, no amount of AI powered results can beat a slick sales team. $1M spent on quality salesperson is much higher ROI than $1M on fancy AI engineering when it comes to relationship-powered media spend.


In statistics, there's a classic quote by John Tukey "The combination of some data and an aching desire for an answer does not ensure that a reasonable answer can be extracted from a given body of data."

This should be printed in large letters on the wall of anybody claiming to do data science.


They can still use sufficiently anonymized data under GDPR. They also will have data from people who have consented to have their data used. They will also have data from visitors who are not in the Union.

I would not at all be surprised if this is enough for the machine learning and data science people to be effective, especially at very high traffic sites like Facebook and Twitter.


I don't believe for a second that they can make the data "sufficiently anonymized". That is extremely hard and pretty much every time "sufficiently anonymized" data gets leaked it turns out it weasn't sufficiently anonymized after all.


Anonymization won't really help because you can't store unique identifiers. IPs, emails device identifiers, etc and anything derived from them (no hashes of that data either) are all prohibited. So you can't really build a profile of someone if you've got no key to look it up when you need to target someone.


But that still prevents the entire targeted ad industry. If you can't hold any identifying information on a user that didn't opt-in to tracking, you can't show targeted ads to that user.


There's a lot more stuff to do with ML and make money than ad targeting


Adtech is the highest paid application of ML.


Based on what exactly? ML is not that common in adtech companies, many just lie about some basic regression testing. Some even just put up a facade in front of grunts with excel.

Even the most sophisticated ad modeling pales in comparison to fintech and bioscience/pharma where the real money is.


Maybe that’s true, but if the ML ad targeting industry disappears, several of those currently employed ML workers have little to no reason to exist.


Yikes! Why the hyperbole? I'm sure if someone is clever enough to learn and be productive with ML, they'll be able to pivot and be productive in another field and/or using other tools.


He's talking about the positions, not the people in them.


What did you have in mind?


To me, the best applications are going to be those by which the human and the ML'd AI will benefit each other by a greater degree than if each were on their own.

At my particular company in logistics, I can see many places where it can be applied- especially in the dispatching of deliveries and helping to set up a call with customer support.


Predictive maintenance I think will be big as well


Two "might" occurrences means it's unlikely. The chances are these people will be swallowed by whatever the most profitable industry is at the time.

My guess would be similar learning systems that aren't subject to GDPR, such as government, external to EU (US), the ludicrous information of things (smart sensors, cloud, etc) where information doesn't leave the user's control, AI driven products, etc.

Then you'll have quite a few who will just continue regardless, sometimes it's easier to apologize (and pay a small fine) than it is to ask for permission.

Don't get me wrong, I would love for all of these people to end up in the (Scientific) health industry. (It's worth mentioning Scientific, as there is a lot of useless crap that uses some form of learning and offers no real gain - would be disappointing to see them all end up applying deep learning to homeopathy for example.)


Not unless they're willing to take a paycut.


Well advertising and marketing firms don't pay there tech talent very well.


You are begging the question.


> tracking people without their knowledge, approval or a court order is just flat-out wrong.

Requiring them to check an "I agree to be tracked" checkbox and signing an agreement (which has just happened to me yesterday in an EU country in accordance to GDPR) before they can use a product/service is hardly much better. This reminds me of the Android app permission system which requires you to allow an app to do everything it wants (including ridiculous requirements like when a game requires access to your contacts list) or just give up the idea of installing it (as for me I just grant the permissions at the installation time and then block everything redundant with XPrivacy). So I doubt it is going to do much good, a way like the cookie law doesn't really do anything but just introduces useless cookie warning banners.


Requiring them to check an "I agree to be tracked" checkbox and signing an agreement (which has just happened to me yesterday in an EU country in accordance to GDPR) before they can use a product/service is hardly much better.

That's specifically not allowed under the GDPR. Either the information is needed to provide the service (and needed means actually needed, not "my business model depends on it"), in which case they don't need to ask, or the use of the service can't depend on that consent.

(By the way, even if the information is needed, they still need consent to use it in other ways, and the same applies)

See the ICO guidelines on the issue: "If you make consent a precondition of a service, it is unlikely to be the most appropriate lawful basis."

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-da...


How is "my business model depends on it" not a bona fide legitimate purpose for information collection? Nobody is forcing anyone to patronize a business that relies on data collection for profitability.

I'm extremely skeptical of regulation that interferes with consensual deals between economic actors. You want transparency? Fine. But you don't get to randomly outlaw certain entire classes of business.


> How is "my business model depends on it" not a bona fide legitimate purpose for information collection?

Business models are arbitrary and orthogonal to services provided.

> But you don't get to randomly outlaw certain entire classes of business.

Why not? Some business models are clearly antisocial and don't deserve to exist. GDPR is only outlawing business models based on large-scale abuse of people's private and identifying information. If you can obtain proper consent from enough percentage of your users, then your business model will be fine. If that's a problem for you, then ask yourself why.

I find it funny to see people complaining that their business model will be in trouble under GDPR. GDPR literally only outlaws being a huge asshole (in context of users' data).


> Business models are arbitrary and orthogonal to services provided.

that doesn't change the fact that the business model depends on that orthogonal action. Is it unlawful for gyms to charge by subscription instead of per-use knowing that most people don't use them? Should the NYTimes be forced to go pay-per article instead of subscription? Should nightclubs not be allowed to overcharge the bottle?

> GDPR literally only outlaws being a huge asshole (in context of users' data).

It goes beyond that, by forcing you to serve people that don't agree to your business model.


> Is it unlawful for gyms to charge by subscription instead of per-use based on the model that most people don't use them? Should the NYTimes be forced to go pay-per article instead of subscription?

It isn't, and it shouldn't. Either can choose whatever works for them best. GDPR only outlaws a few particular antisocial behaviours, which makes a particular class of business models illegal or much less profitable.

The "but business model!" whining sounds a bit like complaining that you can't make money mugging people, because the government disallows theft and assault. Cry me a river.


They can charge any subscription or per use fee that they want, but not if the payment is personal data not necessary for the service.


> Business models are arbitrary and orthogonal to services provided.

That's a very interesting claim. So you're saying it'd be possible to organize fighter jet production as a co-op vegan collective?


Sure it is. How effective this business model is is another story.

Either way, you don't have an inherent right to specific business models and the EU is simply not allowing a business model anymore that has been widely abused. Of course it'll hurt some but I think overall the industry will adapt and change for the better.


One example might be the provision of a ‘free attraction’ service in exchange for surveillance capabilities, and the business model being various unrelated ways to exploit those capabilities (targeted ads, selling the raw data, selling products derived from the data, etc).

This has become the default business model of the B2C Internet, as distinct from offering a service in exchange for payment.


If you can find enough vegan aerospace engineers and have them liquidate their savings for the good of the collective, then sure, why not :).

Maybe "orthogonal" was a bit much. But almost always there's plenty of wiggle room to choose alternative business models.


You wouldn’t think that militant orders of Christianity would have been workable, but they clearly were. I have no doubt that money and power can lead any ideology far from what we’d associate with their base principles. I doubt that vegans are the exception.


There are a lot of companies that are collecting data about you and I that we aren't patronizing. For example, even if you don't have an account at Facebook, they have a profile of you. Even if you don't do business with Equifax, they are collecting your data.

People want more control over how information about them is used.


Personally, I am extremely skeptical of entities where the only motivation is pure profit, and I personally would like to organize to protect myself against these entities that don't align with my civic concerns.


> consensual deals between economic actors

For web, most people don't understand the scope of tracking and privacy. None of the people I know understand what these web companies are doing, how they are being tracked and what data companies have about them. Nobody reads the privacy notice in those websites. Even after someone tells them facebook is tracking everything, they don't understand and just ignores it. There are no consensual deals on web. So GDPR is for all of them (and for people who understand and wants protection).

Also in America a company is more important than people. That's why there are so much negativity towards GDPR.


I have visited a drugstore to buy some vitamins yesterday. They have handled me a touch-screen where I had to check a checkbox (saying that I agree to allow my medicines shopping history to be stored and analyzed to track my health (which I obviously don't want them to do actually)) and an electronic signature tablet with a stylus where I had to put my signature. This was a mandatory condition for continuing using a discount card that gives bonuses when you buy meds. I could opt-out but this would mean I won't be given discounts any more.


Although it initially seems kind of scummy, isn't this better than the majority of ad services anyway? In exchange for selling your medical data, you get a discount. It's essentially getting paid for sharing your data.

Of course if it's essential medication which people can't afford without the discount then that's another matter, but otherwise it seems kind of fair to me. And it gets a bit more complicated if you're in America where that data is going to be used by health insurance to adjust your premiums.


That's a good question, I don't know if it's valid to offer discounts and such in exchange for consent. It goes against the EU principles ("personal information cannot be conceived as a mere economic asset"), but I'm not sure if the law actually prevents it.


One of the criteria for freely given consent is that the customer must be able to revoke it at any time without detriment.

If revoking consent causes a detriment, then it's not freely given, and so that "consent" isn't sufficient to grant the data controller a legal permission to use that data.

Quoting recital 42 from https://gdpr-info.eu/recitals/no-42/ "[...] Consent should not be regarded as freely given if the data subject has no genuine or free choice or is unable to refuse or withdraw consent without detriment.", so it's quite explicit.


I think a minor discount would probably fly (under 15% or so) or atleast defendable to the regulatory bodies.

Bigger discounts would be a problem since that would be more of a detriment.


Thanks, I missed that recital. It's confusing that the phrase you cited isn't in recital 43.


> personal information cannot be conceived as a mere economic asset

I wonder why not? Personal information is useless for most people, they give it away for free to the state institutions and the police wont even ask your consent. Some websites and services have found a way to make money off it, in exchange for free services etc. Why is this an ethically unacceptable proposition?


Because it ends up abused by marketers, and frequently ends up facilitating crime as well. GDPR as a law came out directly from the last decade of mass surveillance economy.


So what? It was part of the agreement when you consented. The same way that when you go to a club, a strip club, or a casino you know you 'll be exploited in a way. Sounds like advocating for overreaching laws that "save you from yourself" and keep you away from harm / drugs etc.

It's a bit ironic that you brought up mass surveillance because GDPR explicitly exempts the police and security services from its reach.

Edit (i can't post a reply): - consent should always be required, but if you don't consent i shouldn't be legally required to service you. GDPR is more than just consent hence the overreach

- The NSA has more data than any single actor on the internet, we can't possibly claim that private surveillance is worse. The NSA may have a better profile of me than any private actor even though (and especially because) i m not american. And their profiling can harm something that businesses generally don't care to harm: my freedom


> It was part of the agreement when you consented

I didn't consent to shit. GDPR is the response to rampant abuse of personal data without obtaining proper consent. You're still allowed to use my data if I consent, you only have to obtain an actual, informed consent.

> The same way that when you go to a club, a strip club, or a casino you know you 'll be exploited.

What kind of clubs are you visiting? :o. Are you sure they're legal?

> It's a bit ironic that you brought up mass surveillance because GDPR explicitly exempts the police and security services from its reach.

It isn't, because adtech surveillance dwarfs government surveillance. Also, the police and security services are doing something valuable for me, even though they do it imperfectly. Advertising industry exists only to fuck me over. It's a cancer on society.


> It was part of the agreement when you consented.

That's a big point in GDPR, I think -- there never was consent. It's the same as why terms and conditions aren't legally binding: nobody actually considers there to be a valid agreement when they click next. In a sense GDPR is just enforcement of people's expectations, and ending predatory practices that were misusing them.


Replying to your edit:

> consent should always be required, but if you don't consent i shouldn't be legally required to service you. GDPR is more than just consent hence the overreach

Yeah, and in a world where companies were not abusive, it would work that way. As it is, we both know perfectly well what happens - companies have leverage over users, and they'll use it. They'll make you consent to every kind of data abuse and sharing to use the service, exploiting the fact that giving up privacy doesn't feel like it's hurting at the point the data is being taken. GDPR is designed to remove that leverage - to make it unable for companies to extract arbitrary consents on the threat of refusal of service.

This only really affects you if your business model was baiting users with "free" services, spying on them, and selling that data to adtech industry.

> The NSA has more data than any single actor on the internet, we can't possibly claim that private surveillance is worse. The NSA may have a better profile of me than any private actor even though (and especially because) i m not american. And their profiling can harm something that businesses generally don't care to harm: my freedom

Sure, so NSA may have pulled in your e-mail history at some point in time. But it's mostly sitting there. NSA doesn't care about you unless make yourself important to US national security. Adtech surveillance, on the other hand, track you constantly, through pretty much every device you have, every site you visit, and makes use of your data all the time. And all in all, this data might at some point finds its way to NSA too, already nicely packaged. NSA vs. adtech is kind of like choosing high potential loss but very rarely, vs. low loss all the time. I'd say the expected loss is worse with adtech, but I'm still happy GDPR will make the life difficult for both.


Legitimate question; if you're not American, why do you think the NSA would be impacting your individual freedom, or perhaps the freedom made available by the state(s) of your citizenship(s)? Or were you more referencing that it is violating your privacy?


there is international law which allows the US to affect me and my freedom even in my home country. It would be up to the local courts to decide. And of course when i visit the US, as well as my freedom to do business with US companies. Also, in this case the tracking is both without my consent , and without the protections that american law provides to americans.


> Sounds like advocating for overreaching laws that "save you from yourself" and keep you away from harm / drugs etc.

I understand you probably move in tech/libertarian circles so it doesn't seem like this, but the majority of the world population is in favor of laws protecting people from themselves and keeping them away from harm.

Now what is overreaching or not is a matter of opinion, and hence politics.


I might be wrong, but I don’t think that this is allowed under GDPR. They have to offer to you the same services with or without the consent to collect your data.

Also, under GDPR, you can always request export and removal of all your profile data from their data stores.


Well, I guess that answers the questions "how much is my privacy worth to me" and also "how much does the society i live in value privacy" quite succinctly.


So they have been storing and analyzing your health already and now they need your signature?

Sounds like something I'd opt-out, request all past data and have it deleted afterwards.


I think a lot of people/companies have been misled into thinking that the GDPR is just another type of cookie law and the same solution will work - get them to ok it by having an obtrusive message at the top of the site. They are in for a rude and costly awakening.


I wonder if there will ever be a suit in which that cookie banner ("Got it!" ugh) is found not to apply because users basically agree to it simply by seeing it. You have their stupid cookie by the time you can read that message. That doesn't seem like an agreement to me, but I'm not even slightly a lawyer.

The whole strategy seems to be in bad faith. I wish more sites would react by minimizing usage of cookies instead of just adopting that dumb overlay.


Completely oblivious and ignorant here:

If a company has no official office in Europe, how does this affect them? All advertisement and business focus is say only in the US, is it business as usual? What if an EU citizen decides to sign up?

Are US companies forced to deny customers not par of say an IP block (half assed method I know, but just speaking in general)?


The guidance we have received is that if your business is not located in the EU, not targeting EU countries, you don't have parts of your site translated to languages spoken in EU countries, and do not have an EU-based domain name extension, your EU traffic is considered incidental and GDPR probably does not apply to you. But, as with everything in the GDPR, that is extremely murky. This law is subject to unique interpretations and degrees of enforcement in the courts and regulatory offices of 28 distinct countries. This is why we simply chose to block EU traffic - there's no need for us to take on the liability of EU traffic, and hope that some country over there doesn't need fines from us badly enough to decide that article 484208408 makes us subject to it.

With regard to enforceability outside the EU, that is anyone's guess. If you're in the US, there are already mechanisms that allow for the domestication of EU judgments in the US. Once domesticated, the judgment would have the same force and effect as if it had been issued by a US judge. However, the treaties that allow this are very complex, and allow for a large number of exceptions. So it would be up to a US judge in each specific case to decide whether or not a judgment for a fine issued under the GDPR can be domesticated. There are currently no treaties specifically relating to GDPR in the US, and I'd imagine there would be (very welcome) strong opposition to such a thing.


Language is a horrible benchmark.

French in Canada, English and Spanish in the US, German among German expats (of which there are millions.)

Targeting a business for extortion because of the languages offered? Ridiculous. GDPR should only apply to businesses with a physical nexus in Europe, anything else is an attempt to assert extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Europeans don’t have to visit US/Canadian/Chinese websites. If they want to “protect” themselves, they simply stop using services they find objectionable. GDPR is nonsense — individuals should be allowed to do what they feel is right for them.

Why not ban all junk food from Europe? Tobacco? Alcohol? Those harm people far more than targeted advertising. If we actually “cared,” we’d be banning those industries.

GDPR is nothing more than a trade barrier.


If you have a site in an EU language that is spoken in other countries as well (Spanish etc) but your site doesn't have an EU domain extension and your content and services are generally not targeted at EU residents, then GDPR likely does not apply. Language isn't the only test. If you have a site in German that is reporting German news though, you're likely going to have GDPR apply to you even if you have a .com extension and are not in the EU.

Unfortunately, I must use words such as "likely" here because there is a large amount of ambiguity in these tests, along with a major conflict of interest - it will essentially be up to the would-be beneficiaries of these fines to determine whether or not you are subject to them. The EU HN crowd seems to believe that their various governments will only fine "bad" companies "reasonable" amounts under this law, and that it will not be abused to extract government revenue from foreign companies and/or hobble foreign competitors of companies in their countries. I certainly hope they are correct, but this would be the first time in the history of the world that such a broadly worded statute was not abused. The only safeguard we have is that the world is watching. If/when the EU gets too out of control in their abuse of GDPR, hopefully countries like the US will implement legislation that makes it impossible to enforce GDPR fines within their borders.

Pakistan was once considering issuing an arrest warrant for Mark Zuckerberg because someone created a Facebook contest that offended some Pakistanis [1] [2]. The case would have carried a sentence of death by stoning. Even if charges had been filed, it is doubtful that the US would have extradited him to be stoned to death under the laws of another country. While GDPR fines are civil in nature, this case underscores the importance of not necessarily allowing the enforcement of other countries' laws in your own. If GDPR enforcement becomes abusive, one would hope that similar protections would apply in our home countries.

[1] http://www.adweek.com/digital/could-mark-zuckerberg-face-a-p...

[2] https://tribune.com.pk/story/342031/blasphemy-arrest-mark-zu...


Don't worry, I am sure it wont be abused. The whole fearfull effect was created by adtech companies trying to create public outrage and paranoia to pretect their money source. Be sure that there are going to be some nasty penalties for greatest violaters (like online dating sites) I have noticed a lot of them is packaging GDPR into terms and conditions and privacy policy changes and those will have to get a fine, but I am sure warning will come first. But as one of ICO said (UK?), "We will always try to use carrot instead of stick, but some companies are carnivores, they don't eat carrots."

Also I am sure, half of world will have similar laws in next few years. Private data invasion just went to far, this has to be stopped.


Don't worry, I am sure it wont be abused.

It would be the first time in history that such a law has not been abused. The fear is real and fully warranted.

I am sure warning will come first

There is no mandate written into the GDPR requiring warnings before fines, nor is there anything preventing multimillion-dollar fines for first-time, minor violations.


It's not a law it's a regulation and EU regulation is largely intended to be more of a carrot before the unpack the stick.

See the Smartphone Charger regulation. It requires all smartphones vendors to come up with a standard for charging, everyone picked microUSB (though moving to USB C now). The EU is fine with that and the smartphone vendors know that if they start pulling the "everyone has their own port" shit again that the EU will get out the stick.

Nobody wants the stick. The EU not and the Vendors not. The carrot was the EU Cookie law, which was largely ignored and the consent dialogs poorly implemented (not even asking for consent the majority of the time). So this is them getting out the stick. Now you can pick which one you want.

>There is no mandate written into the GDPR requiring warnings before fines, nor is there anything preventing multimillion-dollar fines for first-time, minor violations.

Art. 83 of the GDPR details this. Art. 78 details what rights you have against them imposing a fine.


Now you can pick which one you want.

I don’t have to pick either. My company is not subject to the GDPR, and we will never put ourselves in a position to be subject to it. I will not be dictated to or threatened by a foreign government.

Art. 83 of the GDPR details this. Art. 78 details what rights you have against them imposing a fine.

People keep saying things like this, and yet neither article a) requires that a warning be issued before they seek a fine or b) limits fines in any way, except for a top cap of $10 million/$20 million (or percentages of revenue, but the caps are more than 100% of the revenue of most companies).

I would love for someone to just say “yes, technically there are no required warnings or limits other than the $10/$20 million”. Because that’s the only true statement that there is about GDPR fines.


>I don’t have to pick either. My company is not subject to the GDPR, and we will never put ourselves in a position to be subject to it.

Canada, Japan and some other countries and even the US have indicated to copy the GDPR if not in letter atleast in spirit, though the US response is a lot weaker.

>I will not be dictated to or threatened by a foreign government.

The US is a foreign government and does it all the time to me, why is it a problem now?

>I would love for someone to just say “yes, technically there are no required warnings or limits other than the $10/$20 million”. Because that’s the only true statement that there is about GDPR fines.

You won't have that. The GDPR has a strict guideline on how to impose fines, it's not a law an won't be enforces as such. The regulatory bodies have bite because large players like Facebook or Equifax that leak large amounts of userdata require more than an angry letter in their mailbox.

As these articles mention, the agency imposing a fine should severely think about the level of fine and ensure it's appropriate. If you get hacked by a 0-day, you followed the advice of your regulatory body, your shit gets leaked and you inform your users immediately, it's very unlikely anything will happen.

If you get hacked because you didn't update your MySQL server in 5 years, you ignored what your regulatory agency said and you don't tell your users, don't expect them to go easy on you.

Easy as that. If you don't like it you can sue back and get the fine reduced or rescinded.


People keep saying all of this. Again, there is absolutely nothing enshrined in GDPR limiting fines, other than $10/20 million. It says they should consider some things when determining the fine. But (for example) one of the 28 countries could decide that in their country, the lowest level fines are “only” $5 million, and they go up from there based on the factors they are supposed to consider. That would still be enough to destory most businesses.

You cannot tell me that there is anything limiting the fines (other than the cap) because it isn’t written. You’re saying that you hope and think that each of the 28 governments involved here will be reasonable, but in truth you have no way of knowing, and they have every incentive to not be reasonable.


I hope that my government won't do this. As a EU citizen I only have to care about the one in my country.

Again, if you think the fine you got is too heavy you can escalate this to the courts (even EU courts).

There is also no incentive for the regulatory agency to impose such fines if the business cannot pay them. In that case they would get less or even nothing as the business collapses and it has not been the modus operandi in any EU regulatory body I know or experienced.

If they aren't reasonable than the EU courts will make them reasonable or the EU will add additional paragraphs to the GDPR to prevent excessive fines. Simple as that.


> The fear is real and fully warranted.

Much like the cookie law or CAN-SPAM?


>GDPR should only apply to businesses with a physical nexus in Europe, anything else is an attempt to assert extraterritorial jurisdiction.

It covers the personal data of EU citizens. Similar laws exist going the other way. Betfair can't (or couldn't) give accounts to US citizens. IIRC, various poker sites had to close US citizens' accounts. The US even arrested a CEO of a UK company who was only changing planes on his way home to Costa Rica: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Carruthers#Arrest_during...

>anything else is an attempt to assert extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Good. The EU should grasp the nettle and fulfil it's role as the leading global hegemony.


It covers the personal data of EU citizens

You're both correct and incorrect. It covers the personal data of EU citizens. However, not all sites are actually subject to the GDPR at all. EU traffic to these sites is considered incidental and no GDPR protections apply, even to EU residents, on those sites that are outside of GDPR jurisdiction. There are legal tests build into the GDPR (which I detailed in my original comment above) that determine this.


Targeted advertising is not being banned, just regulated. Tobacco and Alcohol are already highly regulated. Junk food is being increasingly regulated https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugary_drink_tax#Countries


I work in the USA, as a sysad. The company I work for has a social media product.

We've have had European and African citizens who've signed up. And that was more than enough for us to discuss "How do we make our stuff comply with the GDPR?". If we ever considered in starting up in Europe, us ignoring the GDPR is tantamount to writing them off before even thinking of them.

We also do things the right way. Deletion requests aren't treated as "ignore kthxbai", but all data is zeroed out then nightly purged from the DB. And I really think, with how current society is slowly turning against orgs like facebook, the way we're approaching this is one avenue of right ways.


If you dont have money, materials, or employees flowing through Europe there is very little they could do to you even if you actively flaunted the law. They could always block access to your site, or even try to sanction your business but unless they are willing to invade your country to physically stop you they don't have very many options.

There is always the chance that your own government will enforce EU rulings against you but at that point either your own government thinks GPDR should be enforced or you're in a very weak country and are going to have to capitulate to the EUs power anyway, much like small Latin American countries were forced to follow US policies


If another company with facilities in the EU then buys the noncompliant company, could they enforce a judgement on the parent company?

If a noncompliant company is going through due diligence prior to being acquired, they be legally obligated to disclose that judgement? Even if they didn't, how hard would it be for an associate at a law firm to check public records about the company?


Yea they could, but this is basic politics and sovereignty. Nations are allowed to make rules for operating inside themselves. You don't just get to ignore all of those rules when working inside them because you said your home is another nation.

The other side of that is that you can tell foreign governments to fuck off if you aren't dealing with them at all. The only time the foreign governments matter is if they are a superpower able to bend your own country to it's will, and that point you are basically a colony anyway so there's not much you can do


You can totally tell foreign governments to fuck off. I'm just speculating that doing so would affect the value of your company.


The more likely problem will have to do with a US or Chinese company buying an EU company (given the scale imbalances in question). It'd be critical to maintain the existing GDPR compliance and keep the entities separate if the US or Chinese operations are not GDPR compliant per their domestic businesses.

Alibaba for example likely has no plans to concern itself with GDPR compliance in its domestic Chinese operations. They obviously will segment and comply with GDPR as it pertains to the EU operations / EU customers.


You're right, if a EU resident decides to visit your website and you're tracking them (Google Analytics etc) you have to comply with GDPR when handling his/her data. The IP block has a logic to it because the law applies to people in the EU rather than EU citizens.


Really? I was under the impression that it applies to EU residents, regardless of where they are accessing the website from.


It's the other way around. The law protects according to point of access (EU soil), not according to nationality. So an American tourist in France would be protected, but not a French tourist in the US.

This is just like most laws, when you're a tourist in a foreign country you have to follow the local laws, not the ones from your passport country.


This is technically true, however if the site is not targeting EU residents, the traffic is supposed to be considered incidental and the GDPR is not supposed to apply.


As long as you don't target EU customers, you're fine.


Do you have any references/citations for this?

Would help me out! I'm trying to put together a one-pager for my team.


When the regulation does not apply

Your company is service provider based outside the EU. It provides services to customers outside the EU. Its clients can use its services when they travel to other countries, including within the EU. Provided your company doesn't specifically target its services at individuals in the EU, it is not subject to the rules of the GDPR.

https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-topic/data-protection/refo...

IANAL etc



And “target” is such an arbitrary idea. Just existing could be argued as trying to target.

The standard should be: “do you have a physical nexus in the EU.” That’s it.


It's either "target", or it apples to all EU customers. "target" is far less of a problem for companies that don't consider their customers data to be important.


> perhaps a $trillion or more has been spent on adtech, and not one brand known to the world has been made by it

Google.


The author is referring to brands that typically pay for ads, not provide them.


That makes even less sense. Really, ZERO brands have found customers from web marketing? Not even Audible, or Harry's, or all those mattress brands, that weird tongue brush all over YouTube in 2012? No success stories at all?


> Not even Audible, or Harry's, or all those mattress brands

They advertised through sponsoring podcasts or Youtube channels, which is the sort of traditional advertising that's being contrasted to tracking-based adtech.


Every single venture backed company in SV since 2000 was built with ad money.


Is this true? No oil money or movie money? Or software sales money?


You can add Alibaba, Baidu and Toutiao to that list. Nearly all of their revenue comes from adtech. Just three platforms used by a billion people. Yahoo was also made possible by adtech, it was / is a brand known to over a billion people.

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat - they only exist courtesy of their adtech.

Can you imagine how difficult it would be for Twitter to sustain itself with a paid model? There's such an extreme imbalance between the people that post regularly and are power users, vs people that just occasionally consume. The median user that reads a few tweets per day - at best - is never going to pay $60 or $100 per year for that product. Even if you have five million power users on there paying $100 per year, Twitter instantly goes bankrupt, they could never charge enough.


I'm amused by the implication here, that it's obvious $500 million a year isn't enough to run a website where people send short messages to each other.


Out of the three you listed, only one has actually made money. Snapchat and Twitter have lost incredible amounts.

Also, I think what the article is suggesting is that brands don't typically get built on the back of advertising _initially_. All three of those started without it and added it in later once they were highly entrenched to try to monetize.

I still don't think it was a very good point in the article, though.


Twitter has been net income positive each of the last two quarters.


Maybe then twitter should downsize and accept low profit margin.might have then lead to multiple Twitter like platforms.


>Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat - they only exist courtesy of their adtech.

Where are the ads in snapchat? Or is the money made from selling people's information on to ad tech people?


From one of the references in the article:

The Google consent interface greets site visitors with a request to use data to tailor advertising, with equally prominent “no” and “yes” buttons. If a reader declines to be tracked, he or she sees a notice saying the ads will be less relevant and asking to “agree” or go back to the previous page.


Adtech is a joke. Even targeted ads are so irrelevant to the point where I don't think most people can tell if they're random or not. Except when the creepiness kicks in, because they show you ads for this one thing you googled a week ago.

Google can't get it right. Their ads suck, and their Youtube suggestions aren't much better. Amazon can't get suggestions right in their own store.

The whole ad industry is a joke. Most people I know do not watch TV anymore, not because of the content, but because of ads. I enjoy reading magazines, but I don't bother anymore because they got full of ads. Now I read books instead. Most Youtubers either have some kind of sponsoring directly in the video, or a Patreon because Youtube ads are clearly awful and ineffective.

I think Patreon and Netflix et al. proves quite nicely that enough people are willing to pay for quality content without ads. For the companies who want to market stuff, I don't have a solution (otherwise I'd be rich), but I do know I'll go to great lengths to avoid seeing your shitty ads.


I honestly think this is very, very user dependent. Mainly because if Google's ad tech wasn't working, they wouldn't be making so much money....

You, I, and everyone else on this site don't represent the average user. Personally whenever I Google something out of curiosity as a one-off thing (e.g. "lyrics to Rasputin by Boney M" or "0-60 of a Golf GTI") I switch to in-cognito, just because I've noticed that Google isn't currently tracking stuff like that by IP. This way I don't get recommended Boney M videos in YouTube or adverts for cars I don't actually have an interest in elsewhere. And that's on top of uBlock, Disconnect, Privacy Badger, and a Pi-Hole on my home network. But I work in cyber security and I am in no way a "normal" internet user. Same with TV, I'm a cord-cutter with Plex running on a VPS: meanwhile everybody I know who doesn't work in tech just watches TV normally.

Pretty much everyone on this site saying "advertising doesn't work" is right that it probably isn't as effective for them because they've been taking counter-measures for years, but millions (possibly billions) of normal internet users do click on ads, or have their purchases influenced by ads.

I do agree with Patreon and Netflix, they're fantastic business models. Add Spotify to the mix too: although the renumeration they give to artists is laughable, it's a fantastic platform which has gotten me to actually pay for music for the first time in about a decade.


> I switch to in-cognito, just because I've noticed that Google isn't currently tracking stuff like that by IP. This way I don't get recommended Boney M videos in YouTube or adverts for cars I don't actually have an interest in elsewhere.

If you go through all that trouble, why don't you simply turn off personalized ads? https://adssettings.google.com/


I already have. But I like to double up on my privacy controls where possible, just in case. Opening up incognito takes a fraction of a second more, it's become part of my workflow.


Yeah, that's definitely the reason why it has become part of the workflow ;)


> Mainly because if Google's ad tech wasn't working, they wouldn't be making so much money....

Depends what you mean by "working". Like I said, companies always want to market their stuff. Online ads just need to be better value than print, TV, or radio - a low bar. Also, attention is a zero-sum game, if you don't target online you're missing out on a huge slice. An especially important slice of younger people.

> I honestly think this is very, very user dependent.

Of course. And as engineers, we're painfully aware how important attention/concentration is, and value that higher than most. I think content creators are similarly cognizant of that though. On podcasts, you're much more likely to hear "I don't watch TV".

Sure, in the short term, nothing is going to change. My parents probably won't stop watching TV, although Netflix usability is pretty good, even for them. But in the long term? And it isn't like TV is cheap. In America, cable packages are expensive, although the big media conglomerates are pushing some shitty deals to get people to keep buying them. In Europe, it's often worse. Decent, country-focused TV is usually free. But if you want to watch Game of Thrones, you're basically going to have to pirate it.

And even on shorter timescales, you can see changes. For example, I've followed some creators from Youtube to Twitch and find myself using it more, even if I'm not a fan of the UI or watching streams in particular. So it isn't even the same use-case, but the more time I spend on Twitch, the less time Youtube gets. Or podcasts. Youtube is still useful for discovery, but many people switch away from Youtube for consuming podcasts they follow.

In any case, on average people are more aware of how valuable attention is - a trend I think is increasing.


I had that "creepy" moment but it was more silly than creepy to me.

I was googling a lot about a certain piece of software (config, how to set this and that up with other things to work together, etc.) and that resulted in me getting ads for it from there on.

I mean yes, the targeting 'worked' - it's a software that interested me at the time, I even own a copy already. Targeted ad money well spent..?

The surgery was successful but the patient died.


What bugs me even more is booking.com

Case in point: I book a hotel for next weekend in Sapporo and they won't stop pestering me with ads for hotels on said weekend in Sapporo.

Hello! I just booked a hotel and don't need another one!

What seems even more seedy is their emails:

Hello CaptainZapp; Prices just went down in Sapporo!

Which, first, is a lie. I know that because I was in Japan during golden week. And prices are very high and certainly don't get any lower for those days.

Secondly it seems fundamentally unfair towards the hotels that (have to) sign up with them.


Netflix still needs ads to advertise themselves like on YouTube.


Which is certainly fine with me. I'm always amused that the notion that I will regret not having "relevant" ads. Where "relevant" means more likely to get me to buy things I was not intending to buy.

Ads make sense to me in the age of information scarcity. But now if I need a thing, searching always turns up what I want. If I need to figure out what kind of thing to buy, I can read review at places like The Wirecutter. If I want to keep up with what's new in a field, I can follow experts via Twitter, mailing lists, etc. And if I have a problem I don't know how to solve I can talk to friends or use social media.

Please do give me random ads; they're easier for me to entirely ignore.


Isn't what you're saying in your first paragraph just strawmanning the definition of "relevant"? If you do not want to buy anything no matter what they show you then those ads are by definition not relevant. If they make you want to buy then the ads are by definition relevant. They aren't brainwashing you, at the end of the day the one in control of the credit card is still you.


> They aren't brainwashing you, at the end of the day the one in control of the credit card is still you.

Right, because we're all perfectly rational robots with full control of all of our emotions and impulses, and the advertisers totally don't employ cutting-edge research in psychology to manipulate us.


Exactly. The actual point of most advertising is to manipulate people into doing what the advertiser wants. Coca Cola doesn't spend billions on advertising because somebody out there isn't aware of Coke.

Even if I never fall for it, the stuff that's most "relevant" from the advertiser perspective is to me the stuff I have to do the most mental work to ignore. The more irrelevant it is, the less I notice it at all.


Actually Google doesn't just say the ads will be less relevant, it also says you won't be able to block or mute some ads. Are you still happy to opt out?


What if Google emotionally bribed people? eg "For every month you have targeted ads enabled, we will donate 10 cents to [INSERT CHARITY]."


They don't have to. The possibility to opt out from tracking have been available for a while, although it was always pretty hidden in the settings.

After I opted out, I started seeing awful ads: mostly semi-naked bodies of people claiming to lose weight or bald heads.

Of course it's easy for Google to just say that this is what their economically optimized algorythm selects for a perfect stranger, because those are the only advertisers that risk spending ad money on someone they know nothing about.

Long story short: it's a sort of bribe already and you cannot prove it is happening.


Turning off the display of personalized ads and turning off data collection are different. Do the setting you are talking about prevent data collection?


I wouldn’t call it bribery - Bing will make a donation if you get enough Bing points. I’ll be generating £3 for the Special Olympics this month (or I could have chosen a £5 voucher in the Microsoft store).


From the article, it looks like the big winners in this will be companies which both run ads and have customer accounts. Google and Facebook, basically. Companies which have no relationship with the customer have no way to ask for permission to use customer data. This is a killer for third-party adtech companies which need that permission.

So the middlemen get cut out, and advertisers deal with Google and Facebook directly.


Tracking cookies gave the ability for small advertisers to understand their customers and their other consumption in ways that only the largest marketers could.

The author thinks big brands are everything and can't see how letting smaller players sell to customers could help the economy. He uses an arbitrary standard of privacy to argue on the behalf of the largest household brands. I think he's missing the forest for the trees.


Can you flesh that out a bit more? What are those ways?


Customer focus groups. Literally paying customers to spend time with staff to learn their habits and thoughts about the advertising. The big brands have the funds and expertise to directly gather enough data to come up with strong predictors of behavior.


Focus groups are always made with the consent of the participants, though. You can still use tracking cookies if you also get consent.


You use the word "though", but I don't see how your argument doesn't integrate with mine. Can you tell me what I am missing?


Small businesses (especially B2B) used to be able to buy small ads in mainstream publications that catered to the target customers. For example, we used to pay over a grand a month to one magazine, but that magazine drove fully-qualified potential customer traffic directly to our web site that easily paid for the ad. Today, we can't even find a decent place to advertise that doesn't effectively equate to lighting dollar bills on fire.


The GDPR is about a lot more than cookies. I think you're going to have a hard time arguing that current massive internet advertising surveillance and analysis industry is friendly towards small business.


One other fundamental shift that information technology makes to advertising is that digital tools, reviews, and marketplaces somewhat undermine some primary functions of advertising. I no longer care about brand or advertising information when buying commodity products on Amazon; I simply sort by # of reviews * avg score, read a sample of reviews at each star level, and I already have a general picture of the product's quality and consumer satisfaction.

The parts of advertising meant to demonstrate "Hey, we're a quality company that can afford this prestigious advertising slot, therefore the reliability of our products is assured" has been eaten by frictionless digital review platforms. Of course, advertising and branding serve other purposes as well, and will always be some part of the purchasing decision. But social software and AI will likely continue getting better at matching consumers with products over time.


I think that is coming back, however, as the whole fake Amazon review scandal continues to play out and demonstrate that anonymous reviews in an open digital marketplace are no replacement for a trusted brand. Not better and not worse, whether it is reviews or brands, at the end of the day its simply another way to gauge 'potential' product quality. Sometimes good brands screw you over with shitty products, sometimes bad manufacturers hire fake reviewers to shill for them.


I wonder how many "parts" of the Internet are simply going to be inaccessible over the course of the year to individuals residing within the EU as websites take a rudimentary "block all EU traffic" approach as a first swing at preventing their services from being offered to EU residents.


Just be sure to marvel at the speed with which they're all simply replaced.


Another gold rush? Count me in!


I don't quite share the level of optimism the author seems to have, but I hope he's right. If so, good riddance, just a shame it took this long.


Something tells me it will be similar to the fear mongering of cookies policies circa 2014.

Meanwhile as ICO reporting, only on average 50 companies/sites have been investigated and punished, per year.

https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/cookies/

Most likely with GDPR being so damn popular, they will be overloaded on day one. Heck, I personally have 5 different emailers I never provided my email to, that I just wait for the end of May to report! Do I believe each will be prosecuted and extracted out of $25MM in penalties ? Nope.


...and nothing of value was lost.


Although I like the GDPR and would support similar legislation in my country, I honestly don't see the gloom and doom story. The EU market is a small part of the global story, and while this change clearly makes that market harder to enter, the article doesn't make the case that the EU represents a sufficient share of the adtech market to pop a bubble.

In general it's easy to believe negative press about hated entities (for example, see liberal credulity about Trump's vulnerability in the US). I don't see the argument passing the bar for evidende, whether or not I want to believe it.

edit: the argument that adtech stinks is not evidence in support of the article's thesis. crappiness is not a predictor of a bubble, and the author makes no attempt to connect the idea that ad tech stinks (which is stated ad nauseum) with the claim that the GDPR will bring about a global sea change for adtech)


EU market is something like 25% of all the global market revenue, both for total industry and for the main international players individually. 25% of total revenue is large enough to adapt instead of avoiding the market, and it would be expected that every multinational player will be compliant, and thus also require their suppliers to be compliant - i.e. Google won't be buying data from a random adtech company if it might be "contaminated" with EU data obtained without proper procedures, the potential financial risk is just too great.


I felt the point that adtech isn't advertising, but direct marketing, deserves to be called out as important.


I'll play the devil's advocate and say that I'm actually disappointed by this development. A very long time ago when AdSense was young I was thrilled by the idea that instead of being bombarded by stupid ads designed to cater to morons people (including myself) will be getting relevant ads - ideally, ads about stuff that I am actually willing to buy right now. Kinda like legilimency. Too bad that this will be impossible for a long time to come now.


Hmmm...just target it to the content of the site?

Just like targeting search ads to be relevant to the search?


There are many sites which are topic agnostic, others which have less text and therefore are more difficult to classify by ad crawlers and target based on topic.

It's also difficult to conceive enough advertisers on the demand side for many niches. In this scenario targeted advertisement would fill in for the lack of demand


> I just said greatly simplifies what the GDPR actually utters, in bureaucratic legalese

You can read and understand the whole thing in about 30m, as a lay-person.


Tracking IP address for SAAS companies is important for defending chargeback claims.

For e.g when a customer demands a chargeback through their bank, Stripe notes down the IP address of every transaction. It is important to note this IP address and check if the user created an account using the same IP address. How are SAAS companies to provide sufficient usage proof when it comes to defend chargebacks?


You would be allowed to track IP addresses to prevent fraud. This is from Recital 47 of the GDPR:

"The processing of personal data strictly necessary for the purposes of preventing fraud also constitutes a legitimate interest of the data controller concerned."

"Legitimate interest" is one of the legal bases for processing personal data under the new regulation.


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