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Data Brokers with John Oliver

Wait, are we really talking about John Oliver in a digital marketing blog? Yes, yes we are. But the most recent segment on data brokers is actually incredibly important for digital marketers. Data brokers are companies that collect your digital data, package it, and sell it to anyone who’s interested.

This data is often used by marketers when creating display advertising through methods like the Google Display Network, and other programmatic display companies.

None of this information is new, but people have been asking for more privacy when it comes to their data for some time now. Even last year, Apple released their long-awaited iOS 14.5 update that included a new privacy tool.  This new update gave people more control over their mobile phone data and how it’s used by companies like Facebook and Google to target ads.

Understandably, this update frustrated marketers because it cut off a large portion of targeting for their ads.

This was only the first step towards stricter privacy policies for tech companies. The European Union has taken the privacy of its citizens very seriously over the years. Because of this, the General Data Protection Regulation was created to protect said data.

In the US, no actions have been taken by the government to assure the same level of privacy is given to its citizens. It is up to the companies themselves to make these changes, like what Apple did with their iOS 14.5 update.

But why would any other company want to do this? Sure, it would look good in the public eye, but it would remove a large amount of their revenue in the process. Just take a look at Facebook. In February, Facebook announced that they believe they will lose $10 billion due to the updates that Apple has made. Imagine if that privacy change had happened not just on iPhones, but on every other phone, tablet, and desktop across the US.

So now leads to the question, why does the latest segment of Last Week Tonight matter? Because it might actually force the hands of the US government to make the privacy of user data actually private. While our data is technically anonymous, it is fairly easy to determine who is who in those lists, which can then be exploited by marketers with questionable morals.

John Oliver took this information and ran his own ads in the DC area to pinpoint actual US congressmen and he could release this data whenever he wants. Now wait, isn’t this illegal? Nope. Not at all. And that is precisely why he did it. Showing congressmen how easy it was for him to gather their data, he is hoping it will expedite the process of protecting the data of users across the internet.

What does this mean for us as marketers? Honestly? It’s quite bad when it comes to programmatic media buying. We have already seen the effects of this on Facebook, so we can expect to see similar results elsewhere.

While this does hurt things like programmatic, search ads, SEO, and website design are all still integral parts of your digital marketing strategy that will remain untouched by this change if it does end up happening. If you have any questions about this or your own digital marketing needs, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free consultation.

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