Facing Up To Privacy


In the current climate, issues around privacy have gained more importance than ever before. The use of private data can, in certain circumstances, add value to an end user’s experience, however a number of recent events have cast a spotlight on privacy and how user-data is being used by a range of organisations.  

The last few months are a reminder why…

Facebook has almost a third of the world’s population on its social network platform. However, events in recent months, have seen its reputation in the media severely damaged, while losing a key asset – consumer trust. Whilst the current number of users leaving the platform are not large enough to impact its advertising revenue, the question now is whether recent events will have an impact on advertisers and user numbers in the foreseeable future? Facebook’s recent media crisis with Cambridge Analytica (summarised below*), raises concerns on how advertisers use behavioural insight by profiling user data to retarget suitable ads.

*Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, a quick synopsis:

  • CA is known to have outsourced development of a psychographic personality test that was then used to create algorithms to target individuals with personalised election content
  • Although the test directly engaged 270,000 users, it went on to gather data from all linked friends, families and follower profiles

 Facebook too has been put under the spotlight as the main contributor to the data release:

  • Facebook failed to protect user data or implement transparent data protection and data use policies
  • Facebook’s release of data profiles has risen up to 80M from the previously quoted 30 Million
  • After the #Deletefacebook movement, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg has issued a public statement of apology in order to gain back consumer trust
  • Zuckerberg’s Facebook trial has failed to provide enough information on the company’s policies
  • Some senators however, did show an inclination to strengthening data protection policies


Proactive (Europe) vs Progressive (USA)? 

Different countries have a different take on a users right to privacy and the protection of their personal data. It could be argued that the US’s more relaxed view on protecting user data is at odds with the harder line taken in Europe, leading to a confused international landscape where a users privacy is different and regulated differently depending where in the world they are.

Alternatives to consumer profiling for better advertising

At Smartology, we use a cookie-free solution to semantically match publisher and advertiser content. The use of contextual matching, instead of demographic data or behavioral targeting ensure data protection whilst acknowledging the interest of advertisers who seek to engage with their  key audiences. Staying a step ahead of GDPR, the company’s key focus is to over deliver on engagement metrics and increase ROI for advertisers and publishers alike without processing any user data.



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