Back-to-back Privacy Lawsuits against Ad Tech Companies. What does it indicate to marketers?

Published: February 21, 2023

min read

The focus on the ad tech industry by legal authorities has widened a bit more.

Last week, the ad tech industry saw a slew of noteworthy policy and privacy-related events. The CEOs of five major technology companies have been summoned to testify before the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee's investigations into free speech issues.

And, less than a month after filing its antitrust lawsuit against Google, the US Department of Justice was reportedly considering an antitrust case against Apple.

Members of the European Union, meanwhile, are attempting to regulate AI-related issues with a proposed AI Act that would govern how companies develop artificial intelligence and regulate how sensitive information and other data are used to train AI models.

This week will also be a big one, with another important and contentious topic on the agenda: Section 230. The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in two separate cases involving Google and Twitter, which could have a significant impact on the future of free speech on the internet.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania looks at some of the things people do and don't understand about how companies use their data or what's legal - and not legal - under current laws. The study shows 80% of survey respondents believe they have little control over how marketers learn about them, and 80% actually think companies' knowledge of their digital activities could harm them.

Ad tech companies face privacy and policy issues. What should marketers learn from this?

It’s not just Ad Tech companies that are facing the wrath of regulators. We expect brands will also face stringent measures sooner.

Significant improvements have already been made to data protection laws such as the CCPA, GDPR, etc. to ensure that users' data is subject to stringent safeguards and controls. It includes data breach notifications, tougher penalties, a data protection impact assessment, and so on.

On the other hand, even consumers are becoming more and more paranoid about how brands use their data. According to statistics, 93% of Americans think it is important to be able to control who can access their personal data, and 86% of US citizens have attempted to remove or reduce their digital footprint online.

In order to insulate themselves from regulatory pressures, marketers must start preparing themselves already. They should have a clear vision of how customer data would be used by them for marketing to their customers without causing potential privacy issues. They should also build strategies for incentivizing their customers to give consent to the use of their data for marketing and the value it provides to them.

In this context, zero-party data, first-party data, and data cleanrooms should find a place in their marketing priorities.


Sarah Johnson

Sarah is an analytical marketing expert with a passion for data-driven insights. She has a keen eye for detail and a talent for turning complex information into actionable strategies. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, travel, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.


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