Rothenberg sees the EU ‘killing’ digital media. Behold the landscape the embattled IAB chief seeks to defend…

The basic functionality of the internet, which is built on data exchanges between a user’s computer and publishers’ servers, can no longer be used for the delivery of advertising unless the consumer agrees to receive the ads – but the publisher must deliver content to that consumer regardless…

Randall Rothenberg, IAB ‘European regulators are about to kill the digital media industry’, BusinessInsider, 14.08.17

Ghostery – for those that have never seen it – is a clever piece of US kit which allows individuals and businesses to check the ‘wires’ that sit behind any website.

And then block them, if needs be.

It maps, very neatly, the ‘calls’ a website makes as it loads onto your PC, lap-top or mobile; charting both to whom those calls are made – and how long it takes for the individual calls to be answered.

In short, Ghostery reveals – in all its complex, unfathomable and fatal glory – the adtech eco-system that can come to sit behind any website. In the hope of earning it money.

It is a subject I first stumbled upon here as the New York Times ran a number of tests in 2015 on various news websites to discover just how much advertising technology was being pulled into a user’s online/mobile experience and how that then impacted them – be it in terms of slow loading pages and the cost to their mobile data plans given the size and nature of the ‘calls’ involved.

So on, for example, Boston.com, they concluded: ‘Boston.com’s mobile website ads averaged 30 seconds to load on a typical 4G connection, mostly because of large video ads. That’s the equivalent of 32 cents of cell data in ads every time the home page is loaded…’  

What exactly happens when any one of us clicks on a particular website is a subject that is coming right to the fore this summer as the European Union prepares to launch GDPR next May. And with it, various new ePrivacy rulings that, together, are trying to preserve the integrity and privacy of our own, individual data.

In particular, that we all consent before our data is shared across the multiple marketing and advertising technology companies that have now come to make up the average advertising solution for online and mobile news providers.

As a publisher of MyFootballWriter, we have our own thoughts as to how we might – finally – put the individual data rights of the consumer higher up the agenda. And still try to earn ourselves a sustainable living off digital advertising, simply and safely delivered.

This week it was the turn of IAB chief Randall Rothenberg to offer his own, more apocalyptic vision of the future, with the EU’s language and legislation threating to ‘kill’digital media by stripping “…European publishers of the right to monetize their content through advertising, eviscerating the basic business model that has supported journalism for more than 200 years.” 

Which is total bollocks.

The EU is not challenging the simple concept of ad-funded news media per se, rather the hugely complex and invasive business model that Randall and his Wall St mates have allowed to develop over the last decade – in particular to the huge, financial gain of Facebook and Google.

Who help themselves – almost at will – to seemingly every aspect of our online lives.

What the world that Randall seeks to defend actually looks like, tonight brought me back to Ghostery and a simple exercise in inserting WalesOnline into their free, test facility.

It is just another UK provincial news website – it could have been The Scotsman. Or EDP24. Any of them. They have all sought commercial salvation, locally, through global adtech solutions and partners.

The resulting map of the company you get to keep on WalesOnline is re-printed above.

A total of 171 ‘tag’ calls of which 68 are ad related, 10 are down to analytics and a further 23 are flagged as ‘tracker’ technology.

There are also, apparently, 32 ‘unique vendors’ involved in the act of clicking on that one website – all of whom, presumeably, I would have to be introduced to via a new, data consent form as envisioned within GDPR.

Which happens next May.

The point being not so much to point a finger at TrinityMirror; rather to open up an industry-wide bonnet for inspection – this is the landscape to which you are all now attached and beholden; the same landscape that the EU now seeks to bring some semblance of law and order.

What they all do, God knows.

VisualDNA are ‘the world’s leading provider of psychographic audience data. Our patented technology creates unique, detailed and accurate personality profiles’.

Whatever that means.

Crimtan? “…provides real time programmatic solutions for advertisers and is a leader in data, planning and dynamic creative.”

And as to who, exactly, gets what revenue-wise when and if an advert is ever returned to you, the website visitor, fuck alone knows.

What’s the going rate for great ‘psychographic audience data’ these days?

Little wonder that the Guardian found themselves buying their own advertising space last autumn in the vain hope of following the money through the system.

As it is, 70% of any intended ad spend is now lost feeding that beast and with it, the fees that keep the IAB and Randell Rothenberg in conferences and condos.

It. All. Sucks.

Bigly.

Time to start again…

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