The former chief privacy officer of a global media agency has urged marketers to stop “killing democracy” by buying advertising on tech platforms that have little concern for data privacy.
Ariella Garcia is formerly chief privacy officer of UM Worldwide and is now the founder of ASG Solutions, a company that says it promotes responsible data practices and fairness across the digital ecosystem.
The event heard there is widespread alarm in the US about the use of generative AI by marketers and businesses and in particular over the use of personal information as training data for gen AI systems.
Press Gazette asked Garcia whether the biggest data privacy threat to societies came from the dominance of tech platforms and their harvesting of personal data to create an unfair advantage over news publishers in the contest for ad spend. Our correspondent noted that the dominance of a few tech platforms (notably Meta and Google) within overall marketing spending is growing ever larger as news publishers’ businesses are put at risk and thousands of journalists are losing their jobs.
Garcia said: “That is exactly why I quit my job [in September] because I understood the role that these companies were playing in undermining democracy while at the same time not serving the needs of brands or their customers.
“The challenge is the dominance of the platforms and with the way that AI is developing, those platforms are going to be best positioned to continue their dominance.
“There are two or three paths to changing this. One is policy direction, two is massive consumer advocacy and the third is the buy side of the ecosystem, where the dollars start.
“The challenge is marketers don’t see it as their responsibility yet, that is something that has to change.
“My hypothesis is that some focus to get some accountability on behalf of marketers goes a long way. They have control over setting the terms in their supply chain.
“Marketers have been done a disservice by their agencies because of some of the perverse incentive structures that exist.
“I don’t think marketers appreciate the extent to which they are paying for bad data to reach fake people on unsafe websites and killing democracy.”
‘Ad market will be catastrophic for media unless there is a change’
Founder of news media CMS company Glide Publishing platform Denis Haman told the event: “We’ve seen the media industry decimated over a prolonged period of time with marketers chasing the cheapest possible clicks for bullshit metrics. Meanwhile, big tech is scraping all the data which is expensive to create, which leads to churnalism, which is pointless content that nobody cares about.
“Advertising dollars have just blindly gone into the ecosystem with no accountability. The ad market is not appealing to any of us and we are at an inflection point and it’s going to be pretty catastrophic unless there is a change of sentiment.”
Press Gazette was in New York to host its Media Strategies Network USA event, which brought together more than 100 media leaders to discuss ways to increase revenue for quality online content publishers in the year ahead.
The event heard widespread concern that despite overall growth in the advertising market in both the UK and USA, the amount of money being spent with trusted news publishers is dwindling.
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