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Link: Gruber on Apple’s App Tracking Transparency

The notion that if a company has built a business model on top of privacy-invasive surveillance advertising, they have a right to continue doing so, seems to have taken particular root in Germany.

I’ll go back to my analogy: it’s like pawn shops suing to keep the police from cracking down on a wave of burglaries.

Too right, and it’s not just that the surveillance advertising is unethical – the data has often been collected illegally.

Centuries of pre-internet advertising prove that tracking isn’t necessary for advertising to work…

Daring Fireball is a fantastic example of this.

…but no one is arguing that tracking isn’t effective.

Effective at driving huge profits perhaps. There is growing evidence that demonstrates tracking ads aren’t that effective at their core activity.

From Augustine Fou (emphasis my own):

A 2019 study showed that a single targeting parameter, gender, derived from anonymous website visitation patterns was only 42% accurate, worse than random. If you did no targeting at all, and just did “spray and pray” with your digital ads, you’d at least hit one of the genders 50% of the time. When two parameters were taken into account – age and gender – the accuracy dropped as low as 12%. That’s like 9 times out of 10, those targeting parameters were wrong. And advertisers paid extra to make their digital marketing worse, not better.

Then there’s Bob Hoffman’s infamous Programmatic Poop Funnel. That chart showed how only three cents out of every dollar spent on programmatic ads is seen by humans.

And we can’t forget Tim Hwang’s Subprime Attention Crisis:

…the accuracy [of data profiles used for advertising] was often extremely poor. The most accurate sets still featured inaccuracies about 10% of consumers, with the worst having nearly 85% of the data about consumers wrong.

There are many more examples.

But I wonder how many clients would be happy to continue spending on surveillance ads given how inaccurate and expensive they are?