Privacy in the digital space - key factors you should know

A Q&A with Ryan Sullivan from Bench

Digital Privacy
Digital Privacy

Privacy and the impacts on digital media continue to be front and centre in Clients’ minds. The Media Planning Agency discussed the basics with Ryan Sullivan from Bench – the start of a series aimed at dispelling some of the myths around digital and programmatic.


Q: What are the key factors we need to know about privacy in the digital space right now?

Ryan: “It’s safe to say that marketers have been riding an ever-changing privacy wave over the last couple of years, a wave that has been driven by declining consumer sentiment towards the ad industry itself. Events such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal alerted consumers to the nefarious ways their data was being collected and used without their knowledge or consent. In the wake of this, both consumers and governments demanded more transparency in how consumer data was collected, used and shared across the web. Policies such as GDPR, CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) as well as many similar privacy codes were brought into effect around the world. The changes we’re now seeing as marketers are the industry’s response to the global pressure.”

Q: So let’s talk about the first changes from Apple that caused major concerns 

Ryan: “Apple’s iOS 14.5 release heralded a new privacy policy (the App Tracking Transparency framework), forcing all apps to ask the users’ permission upfront whether they wanted to be tracked across the web for personalised ad purposes. As you can imagine, roughly 80% of consumers have said no to this. With Apple accounting for 55.8% of all mobile users in Australia, this has a pretty significant impact on ad revenue, mainly felt by platforms such as Snapchat, Youtube, Twitter and Meta. With an estimated $9.8billion in lost ad revenue forecasted, Facebook launched scathing attacks on Apple’s decision, positioning itself as “fighting for small businesses everywhere.” If we pretend Facebook’s shareholders are small businesses, then sure.”

Q: And then Google wanted to get involved?

Ryan: “In June 2020, Google announced that they would deprecate all 3rd party cookies from their Chrome browser by 2022, which has since been delayed to 2023. This is the bigger of the two announcements, in my opinion. What this means for the consumer is that when they visit any website, no 3rd party organisation will be able to capture or track their data for any purpose elsewhere across the web. This was Google’s response to privacy concerns and brought Chrome into line with other browsers such as Firefox and Safari. Considering that around 80% of advertisers use 3rd party cookies in their digital advertising mix, this announcement sent the industry reeling. However, Google quickly realised that things are easier said than done, and ever since the announcement, they have been plagued with problems. Their first solution (FLoC) was quickly mothballed due to privacy concerns. Their second (Topics) has received a reasonably frosty industry response with fears of further monopolisation and issues with transparency.”


Read the full article which appeared on MPA blog in May, 2022.