July 2, 2022 Peter Bakker

How the Banning Surveillance Advertising Act Will Transform Content Marketing

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The rise of the Internet, the smartphone revolution, and social media dominance changed content marketing forever. The next phase could be prompted by an American bill aiming to protect user privacy.

Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the American Banning Surveillance Advertising Act. One of the three proposers, Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo, said “Surveillance advertising is at the heart of every exploitative online business model that exacerbates manipulation, discrimination, misinformation, extremism, and fundamentally violates people’s privacy in way they would never choose if given a true choice.”

What the Bill Will Do

In short, the bill prohibits advertisers from “target[ing] the dissemination of an advertisement; or knowingly enable an advertiser or a third party to target the dissemination of an advertisement.” The long list of folks it cannot be disseminated to or through includes individuals, connected devices, information about said individuals, or unique identifiers that would identify an individual or device.

The entire long bill is here.

As critics note, it’s unclear if the bill is trying to just prohibit modern third-party targeted advertising – a la Google selling a user’s information to another organization – or if it intends to prohibit the first-party organizations themselves from utilizing targeted information – which is pretty much Google’s entire business model. There is potentially room for exceptions, like, as The Verge notes, for location-based targeting, but it seems too vague for data and content marketing leaders alike to sleep well at night.

What Makes the Bill Different

It is also unclear how the U.S. federal decision will effect other countries. Just a few years ago, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation law (GDPR) became the first major successful attempt to squash unauthorized targeting marketing – despite being limited to the EU – and shifted the conversation from laissez faire tech growth to a more regulated approach.

Consumers have traditionally been willing to trade privacy for convenience – see Facebook’s ascension as proof – but U.S. government intervention has only changed the conversation on a local level. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 intended to give citizens the right to know about what personal info was being collected, the right to delete the personal info, the right to opt-out of sale of the info and the right to non-discrimination by exercising said rights.

A key difference between the landmark GDPR and California laws are that the consumer isn’t able to opt out: the organizations just can’t do it. As legal critics Lexology put it: “Moreover, marking a stark departure from the consent-based frameworks adopted by other comprehensive privacy laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), the bill would completely remove the consumer from the decision-making process, banning targeted advertising regardless of whether a consumer grants their consent.”

How You Can Prepare

Whether this act is eventually passed or not, the future of content marketing will be much different than today.

First, content marketers will have to lean on intelligent research rather than just targeting advertising. Major search engines are currently banning third-party cookies (eventually, at least, since industry leader Google has delayed its shift until 2023). Organizations will have to find and understand their audience in ways never required before, making new and innovative alternative platforms such as Contrend and A.I.-driven content marketing tools essential for success. Companies will have to eventually forgo targeted ads and instead create a personalized user experience by better understanding the competitive landscape. It is understanding the consumer by better understanding the market as a whole.

Second, dependence on data aggregates may not be worth the privacy tradeoff for both consumers and companies. In its rebuttal, Google warned that the potential law could prevent it from giving map directions in the search results, sharing specific business details when a user is searching for it or making behind-the-scene connections between its various products.

Third, we may begin seeing reticence for the consumer sharing their data at all. The major search engines giving less target, poorer information would impact the privacy vs. customization tradeoff, but legal acts, perhaps beginning with the EU GDPR back in 2018, could impact how much your potential customer feels comfortable with targeted campaigns.

Lastly, the smaller your organization, the more of an impact the potential act may have on your content marketing efforts. Ironically, public sentiment will be much more crucial to scrappy startups rather than the big tech firms the act is targeting: If passed, an individual customer may sue platforms that break the law up to $5,000 per violation. It’s worth devising a strategy now to not only better reach your ideal customer, but to protect yourself while you do so.

The act hasn’t move forward yet, but wise content marketers should take it as a signal for what’s to come.

Improve Your Content Strategy

At Contrend, we believe that the most effective marketing strategy isn’t making more content but, instead, making smarter, quality content that results in conversions. That’s why we integrated machine learning and AI in our content marketing processes to provide an end-to-end solution for all your content creation, management, and analytic needs.

Don’t just take our word for it — our numbers speak for themselves.

Contact us to learn about our advanced content intelligence platform and how it can put you ahead of your competition.