Longtime advertising industry soothsayer Rishad Tobaccowala believes we’re all entering a third “connected” age that blurs the lines between advertising technology and consumer data rights. In a book to be published in early 2020 and in this interview with Beet.TV at the LUMA Partners Digital Media East event, he talks about why consumers should be able to review data about them, correct it and be compensated for use of their identity graphs.
Tobaccowala, who is CGO of Publicis Groupe, describes the first connected era as “built around the Web, and it was basically you link to information, you link to transactions. Google did the best on information and Amazon on transactions.” There followed the second era, circa 2007, when “we were connected all the time and to everybody” while social networks and mobile phones took off, lifting the Apples and Facebooks.
“Another company eventually recovered and became very powerful, which is Microsoft and had actually left the ad-tech space with the exception of Bing,” he adds.
“And now we’re entering a third connected age, which is machine learning. Which is data connecting to data, Internet of things, VR” as well as “much faster connections because of 5G.”
Along the way, online advertising exceeded $100 billion, fueling digital giants who are privy to lots of consumer data.
“It’s funding good things, like it enables the technologies of Google and Facebook. On the other hand, it also funds the troubles that YouTube and Facebook bring to the world,” says Tobaccowala. “People are beginning to realize that these things are not necessarily ad-tech, they’re society tech. What started off as advertising technology is actually becoming technology that effects and impacts society.”
As a result, data privacy is a hot topic. Tobaccowala believes the ad-tech industry “was not regulated that well, with regard to data, to one that right now is being overly regulated. And people are trying to figure out what the rules are.”
To boil things down, he lists for marketers and the technology industry three “tenets” that should become reality: “Do you actually have to collect the data, and when you do the person who you’re collecting, they need to know why you’re collecting it. They should have the opportunity to basically correct it. They should be able to share in the monetization of it.”
Asked about identity graphs, he says everybody’s building one and there will be many of them going forward. “And right now the most powerful identity graphs are closed identity graphs.” Amazon has verified names and credit card numbers while Google “has multiple touches on you. And in the case of Facebook, they know who your friends are, your name and a whole bunch of other things.”
Tobaccowala’s book, which will be published January 28, 2020 is titled Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in an Age of Data.