Social Media advertisers have certainly taken a hit in the last few weeks. Anyone turning on their TV or opening a browser page is inundated with talking heads discussing personal data breaches across various platforms. After the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, advertisers are waiting anxiously for the impact this will have on social media marketing going forward. Between public distrust and government regulations, the recent headlines may completely reshape how advertisers are permitted to market on social media.
Facebook has been the poster child for this abuse of user privacy. But the scandal affects other tech giants besides Facebook. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Google are all highly influential forms of social media, and ones that also make a lot of money in advertising. According to Daisuke Wakabayashi and Jack Nicas of the New York Times, “Like Facebook, Google collects vast amount of data on users – including their YouTube choices, internet searches and location history – to target advertisements. Facebook has more than two billion users globally, but Google has seven products, including YouTube, Gmail, and its Android software, with more than a billion users each”.
This is an absurd amount of people whose information is potentially at risk.
While Mark Zuckerberg is grilled in the United States’ Congress, countries around the world are already taking steps to protect consumers’ data. In the European Union, a new law entitled the General Data Protection Regulation, or, GDPR, goes into effect May 25. CNNMoney states that “Under the new law, companies will have to obtain an individual’s consent in order to store and process personal data. Requests must be clear and written in plain language” in addition to other regulations. The CNNMoney article also states that this new law impacts “any organization that holds or uses data on people inside the European Union…regardless of where it is based”. This is a huge shift in the social media landscape.
This leaves advertisers in a state of worry. What are the potential ramifications of all this? Will countries around the world enact legislature to prevent this kind of privacy overreach in the future? How can advertisers maintain their targets when they are subject to these new regulations? Will these social media platforms ever regain the confidence and trust of the public that it once had?
While the answers to these questions can only be answered in the future, one thing is for certain: marketers need to be vigilant in keeping their eyes on the ever-changing landscape of social media marketing.