Envious glimpses behind walled gardens. News from Interact 2017

3 minutes. This i show much it took at IAB Interact Amsterdam 2017 started to start talks about mysterious and evel „walled gardens” of google and facebook.

This so popular in recent months expressions is supposed to illustrate the way the two giants administer and use data about their respective users. Two internet behemoths gathered tremendous amount of information and build a wall between them, media and – basically – everyone elese. Of course you can buy a ticket to their garden by buying ads through their systems. They even let you use some of it for free if you want to start with a fanpage for your company. Yet the real beauty of it you will never see. Raw data, billions of billions of megabytes of information is only for them to see and handle. And – whatever anyone says – Google and Facebook know habits of most of the people who use it and know best what to do with it. The rest of the industry have to adapt to survive.

Ahead of everyone

The world of Google and Facebook, which is more and more important to us is a world of modern devices which adapt to what we like, give us better and better experiences, try to make use of artificial intelligence to predict what we would like to see. Where are „traditionl” media vendors in this world? Well, „you now – google and facebook hide their data and we have to do something about it!”. „We have to implement measurment, eliminate fraud, talk about viewability”… Oh, my. How many times have I already heard this?

The impression that google and facebook are way ahead of everybody else is overwhelming.

Especially when David Shing of AOL takes the stage and starts to talk about what the world is and will be in a near future. How young people use the internet, social media (Instagram obviously), apps. How they interact and will interact with each other and sooner that we think they will be our consumers. And we will have to be able to talk to the if we want them to buy our products. And also – how you can sell thousands expensive limited-edition purses just by announcing this through a communicator on the internet. Without any additional advertisement.

We could always say it’s just some nice Power Point and futurology. But it seems inevitable that a model in which portals say „this is my webpage, I have some video there and you have to watch 5 ads to see my short video material” is starting to be a pure archaism. How much can we force a user to watch an ad before he or she is able to see the video they came for? If you this to have any impact on them you have to make it precisely and show, or at least try to show what they want to see. If you air TV ads on the Internet you’re doing it wrong. Web experiences must add to people’s experiences, not irritate them. They must follow their preferences, not intrfere with them.

Those boring lawyers

Meanwhile European media companies and internet agencies will have to face something much more prosaic. Not more than a year from the time of writing this a new law wil be introduced. A law that could change user experience of European websides into a nightmare. European Comission caring for our privacy will seek to protect it in a much more restrictive manner. It could come to the point in which a user would have to click „agree” for each and every ID or cookie sent from the  website to their device. There are already web services where we can see more than 30 different trackers which analyze, compile and collect data about users. According to the Commision each and every such event should be presented to the user in a manner which would be understandable. And for every such event a user will have to give a specific consent. It will also have to be specifically described what each of those tracker do and how it might be used.

Can you imagine a portal frontpage which you could see  onlyafter clicking 30 times „agree”? If you do think about this – google and facebook will not have this problem at all. Using their services we agree to their terms and conditions. Once and for all.

What does it meen for ad-tech companies in Europe? If this law is passed in this absurd manner – this could easily mean the end. Marginalisation of those media outlets at best. Or these media outlets will hire thousands of lawyers and try to evade new rules. As guests from Germany said – and they are the most strict in Europe concerning privacy – the final interpretation will be upon the judge if it goes to court. Yes, you heard me right. If you want to compet with google and facebook in Europe pray that the interpretation of new law by the judge will be in your favour.

Should readers care about this at all? I believe yes. Facebook, Youtube, Netflix, Amazon – those companies are more than happy to accept a new European law. They will handle it by hiring thousands of top-tier lawyers and spend their money to defend themselves. As this will happen they will continue to make their systems even more user-friendly, AI driven so that we spend more of our virtual time with them. In face of this European media companies still seem to be in the bronze-age.