Everyone who has followed me for any length of time knows that I generally despise “infographics.” They’re often sloppy about data. They tend to be visually cluttered and difficult to read. And they’re typically cynically created for SEO purposes.
However I like the Hubspot infographic below, even though it’s quite dense. It illustrates the shadowy world of data matching and trolling that goes on behind the scenes. Consumers have some vague high-level understanding this is going on but are ignorant of its extent, depth or precision.
My view is that several things need to happen in the market. To date “self-regulation” hasn’t worked. There probably now needs to be regulatory or legislative pressure to generate exposure and disclose of third party data sharing practices. Consumers must also be given some way to more directly participate, control or opt-out of this system (current “ad choices” is inadequate). In addition offline data collection and brokering must be brought into the discussion and made more visible as well.
Transparency and some measure of consumer control is the conceptual solution to the cat and mouse game of tracking and data brokering. Even though this Congress is incapable of passing legislation some form of regulation or legal action is coming around these issues. It will probably happen at the state level and/or via the FTC, creating uneven regulations and difficulty for all.
It would be better for the IAB, 4As and industry groups to come together and advocate true transparency.
Consumers will participate in data-sharing schemes if they have an understanding of how the data are used and they receive some benefit in return (personalization, convenience, offers, etc). However some of these practices would absolutely be shunned and condemned if consumers more knew about them.