Today in ad avoidance

There is so much happening around ad avoidance, it is hard to keep up. As the landscape for advertising evolves, both in response to user activities, industry developments and governmental interventions, news breaks daily, if not hourly! I am going to try and catalog some of the developments in the ad avoidance area, if only to track how the big stories evolve over time. Commentary and analysis as time permits!

Good news for publishers and advertisers fearing the GDPR

Project VRM – Doc Searls – Everybody in the advertising world is focused on the new regulations from the EU, the General Data Protection Regulations, that promise to restrict what companies can do with their users’ data, particularly in relation to their explicit consent. The legendary Doc Searls tries to remind advertisers in this piece, as he has been preaching for years, that consumers do  want a fairer and more transparent method for understanding the value exchange underlying online tracking and marketing, and that it would be in the companies’ own best interest to stop tracking their users.

A Serf on Google’s Farm

Talking Points Memo – Josh Marshall – Unlike in Europe, Google has faced almost no regulatory issues in the US, for a number of reasons both historical and political. Nonetheless, the atmosphere around the search giant is clearly shifting, as it has faced recent public attacks from a number of groups, representing very different points on the political spectrum (conservatives upset about the diversity memo affair, liberals angry over ham-fisted attempts to de-fund anti-monopoly critics, etc.). While Google has long faced criticisms of its dominance in relation to media companies, Josh Marshall’s long and in-depth examination of the central role Google plays in his online publication’s existence is note-worthy, as he is influential in both political and media circles, and is also someone who is digitally savvy. This is not an old-time ink-stained print relic shaking his fist at internet clouds, Marshall is a successful digital native publisher and even he feels utterly beholden to Google. There is a general question to be asked, which relates to the wisdom of building a business on somebody else’s platform, but this is the kind of article that is going to reverberate for quite some time.

You Are the Product

London Review of Books – John Lanchester – Easily the best-written piece I have read about surveillance capitalism in some time, easily worth anyone’s attention and a great article to share with friends not as steeped in these issues. Lanchester is an excellent writer in general, whom I have followed for years from his New Yorker days, and he does an outstanding job of presenting the big issues related to Facebook and the industry of tracking. I will have more to say about this piece, but for now, my main critique is that Lanchester makes no mention of the steps users can take to eliminate advertising from their online experiences, and how that movement could actually present a real alternative force to the Facebook and Google in the future.

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