Our favorite Cupertino gadget maker sends mixed signals to customers. Unlike Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other data cullers, Apple collects data but keeps it anonymized. That’s good for user and customer privacy. The aforementioned axis of evil use even more personal data for their gain.
We can argue all the points in between, but such privacy boils down to different business models. Apple sells hardware. That interaction goes back thousands of years in human antiquity. Google, Facebook, Amazon and others use a more indirect method which captures user or customer information and then uses it to attract advertisers (or, in Amazon’s case, to attract customers to buy from Amazon).
That online model is indirect and bastardizes the traditional media advertising model and is causing a seismic change in how the internet works in the 21st century.
The advertising model is basic. Advertisers want eyeballs and ears and that’s what they received for a century or so– newspapers, magazines, radio, television, outdoor billboards, and other advertising riffraff.
The internet advertising model disrupted traditional advertisers and advertising by making data capture more granular and finite. Google, Facebook, Amazon and others could be considered guilty of subverting the traditional model and remaking online advertising in their own image– data centric.
That change fomented severe repercussions.
Advertising rates were driven to the floor in a vicious circle of death. Lower ad rates caused online publishers to display more ads to make up for the drop in rates. More ads caused readers to abandon clicks (which dropped the precious click-through-rate) which caused advertisers to develop more insidious methods to track website readers. In turn, that caused webpages to explode in size and clutter and suck up bandwidth and time (while hiding a growing line of trackers in the background). In turn, that cause website readers to install ad and tracker blockers on their browsers.
I’ve heard it said that advertising makes the world go around. Ads certainly grease the wheels of commerce; online and offline. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other less scrupulous online advertisers have reduced the value of ads while increasing both their number and the insidious nature of data collection.
Browser users revolted. Advertising and tracker blockers have grown in popularity and use and that has dampened the online publishing business and advertisers. There is no win win. Publishers suffer. Website visitors and readers suffer. Advertisers suffer.
Is there a solution on the horizon?
Not until all sides– publishers, advertisers, and website visitors– agree to how the internet can be organized and funded to benefit everyone involved. For now, it’s a wild west free for all with more losers than winners. Except Google, Facebook, and Amazon.