Advertising is in trouble, again. Ever since the world went digital, advertising has been playing catch up and is now being dealt another blow.
It started when 33% of iOS users decided to opt-out of being tracked. That was far more than even Richard Windsor thought would go that way, and the impact on advertising is disturbing, to say the least.
As Windsor points out, the iOS revenue is not going to Android users but (probably) back to other digital channels, such as TV or computer.
The real point is that this drop in advertising revenue means trouble for some of the biggest of big tech names, particularly Facebook, whose presence is very much skewed towards a mobile world.
For a long time, we have seen trouble ahead for Facebook (other social media platforms are available) because of its one-sided business model. When advertising dies or flees, then Facebook might well be staring into the abyss.
Recently the platform has been trying almost anything to diversify, from dating apps to local platforms such as Nextdoor. Now, the company has announced plans to monetise the WhatsApp business by charging customers actual money.
More upheaval is on the way in the next couple of years, as cookies are set to go the way of all things, and companies are already figuring out how to provide relevant adverts without being spooky.
Another problem is trust.
Very few people trust the big tech brands, and they are sick of having their data harvested and sold via the advertising industry. Of course, there is the argument that if you allow your movements online to be monitored, then you will receive a better, more relevant service, supported by more relevant adverts.
Sadly, more and more people are getting spooked. Almost every day, you hear stories of people having a conversation with Instagram open on the table, then receiving adverts relevant to their conversation. Some have even experimented and believed that, yes, they are being spied on. A recent survey revealed that a significant percentage of people believe their smartphones are listening in, and others believe that Alexa is listening in and reporting back.
Whatever the truth about spying turns out to be, it has become almost irrelevant because without trust, brands die.
The question is, is this drain of advertising the beginning of the end for some big tech brands and platforms or is it the end of the beginning as these companies will manage to reinvent themselves in time for the advertising model as we know it to disappear?