Let’s face it: everything changes. In the past things were slower. Nowadays, they are faster and faster. Everything changes. Everything evolves. That’s normal. In the on demand and real time economy, tomorrow is not only another day. Tomorrow is a brand new day.
So whenever I hear that something is ending, at least as we know it, I think: so what?
Change and innovation don’t usually happen in a blitz! Usually they are a result of a combination of variables at the right moment with creativity or, sometimes, just a sense of opportunity. But it’s rarely the end of something.
The end of Facebook? We heard some voices about it a few years ago. The end of vinyl? Yep, people talked about it more than 20 years ago. Oh, by the way, remember Google Wave? Yes, and the end of email! Uber and the end of Taxis! And of course, Internet privacy, tracking, cookies and the end of Internet Marketing (or advertising)!
So, the end of Internet Marketing (as we know it)? What does it mean?
Jumping to the conclusion: Absolutely nothing!
Several studies, reports and articles made from respected Internet “authorities” (I will not name them for obvious reasons) lead to the conclusion that people don’t want intrusive, distracting or irrelevant ads loading on their devices. As a conclusion, this reports states that consumers are in charge and demand a more mutually beneficial relationship with online advertisers.
Of course these reports always talk about adblockers, cookies and tracking issues.
This kind of “expert” subject development is like talking about the conflict in the middle east just to say that war is dangerous and that it can kill a lot of people.
Let me try to split the discussion and start with the basics.
Cookies are not a “technology” made for evil spammers/advertisers to track all of our actions on websites.
Yes, cookies are used for tracking but they are also used for good and important things such as preserving user preferences on a web page and to help brands provide better,personalized services.
And… let’s be realistic: blocking and cleaning cookies will not stop evil uses. There will be always a solution for smart advertisers.
For example: HTML5 local storage, Google AdID, Microsoft’s own tracking or Apple IFDA to track users on iPhone and iPad.
Bottom line: Cookies are not evil!
AdBlockers are not new. The first Adblock extension was written in 2002, almost 15 years ago!
Yes, they block ads. But they also slow down your downloads and use up your data allocation.
And how about neutrality? Adblock plus, the most popular adblock software, lets through (by default) what it calls “acceptable” ads. And how do classify an Ad as “acceptable”? Easy. Just pay AdBlock Plus!
Tracking and privacy should also be discussed properly.
In my opinion, there are 2 different realities: internal website tracking and external (or global), tracking.
Being against internal tracking is like demanding that nobody should look at you when you walk into a store. It’s not allowing security cameras to film you, the clerk to look at your face or ask you your name and contact when you make an order. It’s not allowing to people to understand if you are male or female, young or old.
Tracking a user within a website is natural and should never, in my opinion, be an issue. All the navigation data in the website belongs to the owner of the website. And this data should be used to improve website performance and provide the best service to all users!
External tracking is a totally different reality. Tracking a person across different websites is, in my opinion, advertising dark matter and should be properly ruled.
Disclaimer: at BySide we do onsite tracking. And we deliberately created an independent visitor entity for each of our customers’ accounts, so that one single person cannot be tracked across websites for different brands. This is our way to be faithful to our beliefs and avoid any individual temptation or mistake. Even if we wanted, we could not technically merge a visitor from different customer accounts.
Retargeting and “Retardeting”
Retargeting is (IMHO) part of this advertising dark matter. I honestly don’t like to be “followed” in different sites. I don’t like to look at a pair shoes in an e-commerce store and then see that same pair of shoes again in every website I visit, Facebook included.
And the worst part of Retargeting is that although it seems like a smart move, it immediately becomes a dumb one (I call it “Retardeting”).
The problem is that most times you look at a product, and even if you buy it, it keeps following you around! It’s like being haunted by the ad!
The end of Internet Advertising?
So, is all of this the end of Internet Advertising (as we know it)? Let’s face it, we live in the era of context. Everything demands more context. Not only businesses and advertising. Customers demand more context. Better service. More tailored to their needs.
Internet Advertising is still young. A child who is growing fast and who is perhaps highly gifted but… who’s still growing. Maybe not a baby anymore. Maybe in the adolescence but still growing and maturing.
And we must not forget that not everything is about the customer, with no cause/effect. We must not forget that many businesses we, the customers, love depend on advertising as a revenue source.
So, this “Internet Advertising” thing will keep growing and evolving. It will keep changing, which is healthy and positive.
Ending with a quote from a classic (Gone with the Wind), let’s wait for tomorrow and never forget that “After all… tomorrow is [just] another day”!